The Senate Judiciary committee abruptly adjourned without action on subpoenas for conservative judicial activist Leonard Leo and Texas billionaire Harlan Crow, which were slated for votes Thursday morning.
“Not today,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) said after the committee dismissed. He said it would be on Chair Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) to put the subpoenas back on the schedule, though it is not clear when that might be.
Durbin said the panel did not have the time or preparation to deal with Republican amendments — additional subpoenas for different people — that were brought to his attention last minute.
“The problem was these amendments that we didn’t know about until last night. Analyzing them, going through … we ran out of time,” Durbin said.
The Illinois Democrat said he “absolutely” plans to bring the Democratic subpoenas up again. The subpoenas are part of an ongoing investigation into ethics at the Supreme Court and how undisclosed gifts and personal ties between major activists and donors and justices on the court may have amounted to a conflict of interest in certain cases before the court.
“We just decided that we would take on the challenge of a filing,” Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) said after the truncated markup. “And I think at the end of the day, they decided it probably wasn’t worth it.”
Tillis suggested that timing might have also been an issue. Debate and votes on a significant number of amendments could have dragged the committee past the early afternoon fly-out that senators were anticipating, as is typical on session Thursdays.
Ranking member Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) warned of “a long day, and we’re going to get nothing done” before the panel adjourned. He anticipated “a complete shit show.”
He added that the Democrats’ subpoena requests of “private citizens” opened up a “Pandora’s box.” He predicted Republicans and Democrats would be consumed by “what we would like to subpoena versus what you would like to subpoena” and what he described as “pent up demand” from Republicans about “what’s going on in Biden world.”
“I think they saw they are in for a fight,” Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) told reporters.