By Ariane de Vogue, CNN Supreme Court Reporter
(CNN) — Harlan Crow, the GOP megadonor and real estate magnate who paid for luxury travel for Clarence Thomas, defended his relationship with the Supreme Court justice in an extensive interview with The Atlantic, reiterating he has never discussed cases before the court with Thomas.
“I have never, nor would I ever, think about talking about matters that relate to the judiciary with Justice Clarence Thomas,” Crow said in the interview. Crow said they talk about things that “friends talk about.”
In a follow-up email to the magazine, however, Crow added that, “It’s not like we haven’t talked about work-related issues,” while adding that the conversations were casual and unrelated to jurisprudence.
“It’s not realistic for two people to be friends and not talk about their jobs from time to time,” the magazine quotes Crow as saying. But Crow said it would be “wrong” to talk to him about Supreme Court cases. “From my point of view, that is off limits. He and I don’t go there.”
The interview comes as lawyers for Crow have declined demands from Democrats in Congress to provide more details about the trips Crow paid for as well as a private real estate deal with Thomas and his family members. Crow faces a Monday deadline, for instance, to respond to a request from the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Crow also said in The Atlantic interview that it was “kind of weird to think that if you’re a justice on the Supreme Court, you can’t have friends.”
“I believe Justice Thomas to be a person of the highest character,” he added.
Crow also addressed buying the home of Thomas’ mother in a private real estate deal with members of the Thomas family that allows her to live rent free.
Crow said he has had dinner at the house “several times” and that Thomas’ mother was a “great cook.” He said he bought the house at fair market value, with the aim of eventually opening the house to the public to “honor” Thomas. He said that the mother received a life estate as a part of the transaction, which he said is “very common” in real estate deals with the elderly.
“It was a fair-market transaction, and I had a purpose,” Crow said. “I don’t see the foot fault.”
He declined to provide any more information about other financial relationships with Thomas. In the article, he also repeats his criticism for Trump and discusses his collection of Nazi artifacts that are a part of a statue garden and in-home museum.
“My hope,” Crow added, “is that this is the last conversation I have on this topic in public.”
He admitted that he probably has “more influence than the ordinary Joe” but that he doesn’t think of himself as the “center of influence.”
“I think of myself as a real-estate guy that lives in Texas,” Crow said.
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