CNN runs ‘special report’ on 2020 dinner and hug shared by Ron DeSantis and Clarence Thomas

CNN ran a report this Tuesday about the allegedly “close” relationship between presidential candidate Ron DeSantis and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

This alleged relationship is important because of Leonard Leo, “a conservative activist who had previously advised both DeSantis and Donald Trump on judicial nominations.”

Leo is reportedly also friends with Thomas.

Watch the full segment below:

At the opening of the CNN segment, host Kate Bolduan played a clip from three years ago of DeSantis praising Thomas at an event for the Florida Chapter of the Federalist Society.

“This a justice that has the courage of his convictions and he’s willing to apply the Constitution, you know, regardless of any criticism that he may face. Because I do think that he is our greatest living justice. Thank you,” DeSantis said in the clip, after which he gave Thomas a “bear bug.”

After the clip finished playing, Bolduan revealed that DeSantis, Thomas, and Leo had all gone out to dinner following that speech.

Speaking next, CNN senior Supreme Court analyst Joan Biskupic offered her take on all this. She immediately zeroed in on the “big bear hug” that’d been seen at the end of the video clip.

“Didn’t you like that big bear hug at the end there?” she asked before continuing her analysis.

“That event was in a part of the roots of this very tight relationship between Ron DeSantis, Leonard Leo, and Clarence Thomas. All have many things in common and they all focus on the judiciary. And Ron DeSantis, now as a candidate, is taking a page from the Donald Trump playbook and running on the Supreme Court. And he’s doing it in part by holding up Clarence Thomas as a model,” she said.

“And interestingly, part of the playbook that Trump had involved using Leonard Leo to advise him on his choices for the Supreme Court. And he effectively, you know, sought out three very conservative, anti-abortion justices. And Leonard Leo has also advised Ron DeSantis in his role as governor of Florida and he’s chosen his nominees for the Florida Supreme Court,” she added.

“So, you’re right. Leonard Leo is kind of in the center of all that. And Leonard Leo has not said who he’s going to support in the sprawling primary we have going on the GOP side right now. But he has long advised Governor DeSantis and says he admires the approach to the judiciary. And on, Clarence Thomas’ approach to the law, anti- LGBTQ, anti-abortion, anti-press mirrors what Ron DeSantis has done in the state down in Florida,” she continued.

Biskupic has also published a full report for CNN going into more detail about all this:

Regarding the dinner between DeSantis, Thomas, and Leo, Biskupic notes in the report  that the dinner “helped seal the relationship between DeSantis and Thomas.”

So did evidently Thomas’ wife, Ginni.

“Emails written in 2021 revealed her efforts to win DeSantis’ participation in a meeting of a right-wing coalition with which she was working. As she communicated with the governor’s scheduling team, she said she had interviewed DeSantis for the Daily Caller when he was in the House of Representatives, that she had seen him at a state dinner at the Trump White House and – crucially – that ‘my husband has been in contact with him too on various things of late,'” Biskupic’s report reads.

Biskupic also writes about Leo’s influence on DeSantis’ judicial picks as Florida governor.

“By using Leo for advice on state judicial appointments, DeSantis already is following a Trump playbook. Yet, DeSantis’ supporters say if he wins the White House, he would offer more than a Trump sequel for the federal bench,” she notes.

One such supporter is Florida attorney Jesse Panuccio.

“The governor himself, given his course of study and … what he wrote a book about, has very well-developed views on his own of who would be a good justice,” he said, referencing the governor’s law degree and 2011 book.

“I don’t think he needs to be told by anybody what an excellent jurist looks like,” Panuccio added.


“I’ve appointed a total of seven conservative justices to the Florida Supreme Court. I inherited the most liberal court in America, and we now have the most conservative constitutional Supreme Court of all 50 states,” DeSantis reportedly bragged at a recent event in New Hampshire.

As for the presidency, DeSantis has reportedly emphasized that he has the potential to serve two more terms, whereas Trump is limited to just one more. That means the Florida governor could, if elected president, wind up adding even more conservative justices to the high court than his predecessor.


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Vivek Saxena


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