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Press Release


Brooklyn, NY – Today, Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries joined MSNBC’s Deadline: White House where he highlighted that Democrats will continue to protect hardworking American taxpayers against extreme MAGA Republican attempts to jam their right-wing ideology down the throats of the American people.  

KATY TUR: Joining us now, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries and with me at the table former top prosecutor at the DOJ and MSNBC legal analyst Andrew Weissmann and host of PoliticsNation right here at MSNBC and president of the National Action Network, Reverend Al Sharpton. Leader Jeffries, it’s really good to have you. Thank you for being here. I just spoke a moment ago with Senator Sheldon Whitehouse about Justice Samuel Alito and these flags. He seems to think it is pretty clear that there needs to be a discussion about recusal for Justice Alito. Where do you stand?

LEADER JEFFRIES: In no circumstance where Justice Samuel Alito should be permitted to preside with respect to any case that has to do with the January 6th violent insurrection. He absolutely should recuse himself. He has disqualified himself in terms of either the appearance of impartiality or actual impartiality.

KATY TUR: So how do you get him to reconsider? How do you get the Chief Justice to get him to even consider this?

LEADER JEFFRIES: This is part of the challenge that we confront with the runaway Supreme Court that appears to want to conduct itself as if the Judiciary is above the law. For years, Members of Congress, in both the House and the Senate, have indicated that it’s time for the Supreme Court to have an ethical code of conduct that is enforceable. Last year, Chief Justice Roberts did implement a code of conduct, but it appears to be voluntary and is being ignored. And so as a result of that, the first opportunity that we have in the Congress, I believe we need to have a real conversation about a legislative effort to implement an ethical code of conduct on the Supreme Court that is enforceable. They are the only branch of government currently that can operate with impunity. Congress has an ethical code of conduct enforceable under law. The executive branch has an ethical code of conduct enforceable under law. We’ve got to get the MAGA extremists on the Supreme Court under control.

KATY TUR: So just to be clear, when we’re talking about these flags, one of them was the upside down American flag. It was flown outside of his Virginia home in January 2021 after the insurrection, while the court was considering a case regarding the election. Justice Alito says his wife was the one that flew it and that it was in a dispute – done in a dispute with one of the neighbors. The other flag was the Appeal to Heaven flag. It’s a flag of a pine tree. And that’s been co-opted by stop the stealers as well. The religious portion of this stuff, the stealers. There’s been no comment about this flag. This was flown outside of his Virginia- or his New Jersey, excuse me, vacation home multiple times, according to the New York Times in 2023. These are the two flags at question here. When Republican Senators are asked about this, they don’t see that they’re a big deal. They’ll say that this is overblown in the media. Do you see any innocent explanation for the flying of these two flags at two separate homes during two separate periods?

LEADER JEFFRIES: I do not see any non-nefarious or innocent explanation. And if there is one, we haven’t heard it from Supreme Court Justice Alito. It’s not being forthcoming. I think his only response was to try and throw his wife under the bus, which was extraordinary in and of itself for anyone to do, let alone a Supreme Court Justice, who, by the way, is having to deal with pending cases before the Supreme Court that involved the Insurrectionist-in-Chief Donald Trump, involved people who violently assaulted the Capitol as part of the effort to undermine the peaceful transfer of power for the first time in American history. And that is why this is a serious issue. Part of the challenge that we confront at this moment is that the extreme MAGA Republican majority in the House of Representatives has zero interest in exercising any oversight authority over the out of control members of the Supreme Court, which is one of the things that will be before the American people on the ballot in November.


KATY TUR: It’s not just Justice Alito. It’s also Justice Thomas that has serious questions surrounding him regarding billionaire funding and lavish vacations, what he’s taken from people who have arguments in front of the Supreme Court. He’s also taken positions recently regarding our institutions and the overturning of Roe v. Wade. He brought up Obergefell and gay marriage and suggested that he’d want to take another look at that. There’s also now questions about him potentially wanting to take a look at Brown v. Board of Education. What are your feelings about Justice Clarence Thomas?

LEADER JEFFRIES: Justice Clarence Thomas has long lost his credibility in terms of an impartial figure as someone who was interested in the principles of liberty and justice for all or equal protection under the law. It’s important for the American people to understand that if Roe v. Wade can fall, anything can fall. Social Security itself can fall. Medicare can fall. The Affordable Care Act can fall. Democracy can fall. Brown v. Board of Education can fall as Justice Thomas made clear in his concurring observation and opinion yesterday. So everything we care about is going to be on the ballot in November, including getting the federal judiciary into a place where it can actually administer the law and make decisions in a fair and impartial fashion, not lead an ideological effort to jam their right-wing views down the throats of the American people.

KATY TUR: Leader Jeffries, if Justice Alito does not recuse himself and he’s part of the court that rules on President— former President Trump’s immunity case, which is set to come out any day now, and say that it gets kicked down to the lower courts and it’s Justice Chutkan that now has to go through where the presidential immunity lies. Is that going— in your opinion— to degrade the confidence in the court?

LEADER JEFFRIES: Well the court has done a lot over the last several years to degrade public confidence in the institution. And, you know, that’s quite unfortunate, because we need a fair and impartial judicial branch as part of our constitutional architecture. And a handful of these MAGA extremists who are on the Supreme Court have pushed things too far in an extreme direction. I think we just have to continue to encourage the American people that, at the end of the day, who they elect as president, who they elect into the United States Senate, will help determine the future fate of the United States Supreme Court. And based on the view that the public lacks confidence in the Supreme Court, I’m hopeful that that will be a factor in November when people go to the polls.


KATY TUR: Leader Jeffries, let me ask you about your branch of government. Congressman McGovern, the other day was— his words were stricken from the record. He was talking about Donald Trump’s legal troubles. […] Leader, what do you think of what happened there? I know that he said he was found liable for rape in a civil court. He was liable for for sexual abuse. Other than that, what he’s saying is true, and I understand he was out of order, but what do you make of the demand to have his words stricken from the record?

LEADER JEFFRIES: Obviously, Jim McGovern is a tremendous leader in the United States Congress. He was speaking the truth. And extreme MAGA Republicans clearly cannot handle the truth. At the end of the day, they don’t work for the American people, they work for the Insurrectionist-in-Chief, who basically gives them orders, tells them when to jump, how high, when to show up, what red tie to wear, what uniform to perform under. And this is what we are unfortunately dealing with in this do-nothing extreme Republican Congress. And this was just one of the latest manifestations of it.

ANDREW WEISSMAN: Leader Jeffries, I was wondering if you could speak to the urgency of this situation involving Supreme Court Justices Alito and Thomas. And the reason I raise that is right now, there is a stay of the DC insurrection case that is not going to trial because the Supreme Court has effectuated that stay. And for all we know, as we’re sitting here, the reason that that is continuing, the reason we do not have a trial date and we do not have accountability, can be because Justices Alito and Thomas are holding it, that they are writing a dissent, that they are not moving that case along. And these could be people who should not be sitting there. They should not be voting on something that they have a partisan interest in. And to me, I was wondering what can be done because this isn’t so much an issue of what will happen in the election, which I agree with you is something that people have to build upon. But there is a real consequence that is a serious one right now about just accountability when a grand jury has voted an indictment and the Supreme Court is basically standing in the way of the public’s right to a trial.

LEADER JEFFRIES: Well the American people and their representatives in the United States Congress, in both the House and the Senate, are going to have to keep the pressure on the Supreme Court to be more transparent, as it relates to the reasons why Justice Thomas and Justice Alito have not recused themselves as it relates to any of these matters connected to the violent insurrection, the efforts to halt the peaceful transfer of power, the Big Lie, the criminal cases that are now pending against the former president. These are reasonable questions that the American people should have actual answers to, and they are not forthcoming. And this is an extraordinary thing, because the judicial branch is a branch where you actually need legitimacy and credibility and the full faith and confidence of the American people, because the decisions that they issue basically are permanent and unappealable. And so, that’s why, in order for them to be received in a manner, consistent with our country as a nation of the rule of law— anchored in the rule of law, there is a confidence deficit that is going to have to be confronted and we’re going to use every tool that is available to us, though we are in the minority, to try to get the truth put forward for the American people.

KATY TUR: Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries, thank you so much. I know we kept you a little bit more— for a little bit longer than we intended to, but we appreciate you staying on and answering all of our questions.

LEADER JEFFRIES: Thank you all.

Full press interview can be watched here