Federalist Society leadership is using dark money to influence Trump court case

Plus, continued neglect of the railway system and Tucker Carlson's Putin kowtow

Top Headlines

Influential conservative activist and Federalist Society Vice President Leonard Leo has been linked to efforts to overturn the removal of former President Donald Trump from Colorado’s 2024 presidential ballot. 

Leo, who oversees a vast system of conservative advocacy groups, has connections to the lawyers arguing on Trump’s behalf, according to a new report by the watchdog group Accountable.US. These are some of the same legal experts who also helped secure the nomination of Trump’s three hard-right Supreme Court justices.  

“Most of these lawyers are active Federalist Society contributors with a variety of significant ties to Leo, who played an outsized role in helping Trump form the Court’s six-member conservative supermajority,” the report explains. “Notably, two of these lawyers have led aggressive efforts to advocate for and defend the conservative Justices, all of whom are fellow current or former Federalist Society members.”

Additionally, conservative groups that followed amicus briefs in opposition to Trump's removal also had ties to Leo. They include Citizens United, the Public Interest Legal Foundation, the Claremont Institute, Landmark Legal Foundation, Judicial Watch, Jones Day, Wyoming’s Future and America’s Future.

The so-called “conservative kingmaker” has had increased reach over the past two years following a massive cash infusion into his reactionary political network via Barre Seid, an electronics manufacturing baron. Seid contributed $1.6 billion to Leo’s groups in 2022, making it potentially the largest political donation in history. 

Policy Corner

It’s been one year since a train carrying dangerous chemicals derailed outside of East Palestine, Ohio and devastated the quaint, rural community. But according to reporting by ProPublica journalist Topher Sanders, little has been done to prevent another disasterSanders said in a recent interview on NPR’s “Fresh Air” that America’s railways remain incredibly unregulated. 

“It is the case that somewhere under 1% of the railway activity that occurs in this country is able to be monitored by the Federal Railroad Administration,” Sanders told host Tonya Mosley. “This is despite the fact that “chemicals are traveling through our communities on a daily basis via the rails.” 

Following the events of the East Palestine accident, a bipartisan bill called the Railway Safety Act was proposed in March, but it remains trapped in political purgatory. 

Media Roundup

Yesterday, one-time Fox News turned one-man propagandist Tucker Carlson released his exclusive interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The interview, which lasted for over two hours, allowed one of the world’s most controversial, secretive and mercurial leaders to portray the current Russian invasion of Ukraine as a defensive, preventative measure.

Putin also claimed that the CIA was responsible for everything from the destruction of the Nord Stream Pipeline to general policy decision-making in the U.S. executive branch.  

From the outset, it did not seem that Carlson could hold a dialog with one of the most powerful people on Earth without allowing the latter to control the conversation. 

“What you see from watching the first 45 minutes of this, is that this is President Putin’s platform,” Clarissa Ward, the chief international correspondent for CNN, explained. It was “clear from the very beginning” that Carlson did “not have control,” she commented.   

Carlson’s interview was also conditional. The Russian government played a role in the editorial process: 


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Jamie Larson