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Ginni Thomas appears before House panel probing Jan. 6 attack

Wife of Justice Clarence Thomas is questioned about former President Donald Trump’s push to overturn the 2020 election

Conservative activist Ginni Thomas walks to a meeting with the House select Jan. 6 committee on Thursday.
Conservative activist Ginni Thomas walks to a meeting with the House select Jan. 6 committee on Thursday. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, appeared for a voluntary interview Thursday before the committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, which sought information about her involvement in the effort to overturn President Donald Trump’s loss in the 2020 election.

Ginni Thomas’ appearance in person on Capitol Hill comes as the committee nears the end of its investigation, with a plan to release a report by the end of the year on the circumstances leading to the Jan. 6 attack that features Trump’s push to change the outcomes in key states.

Her apparent involvement in that effort revealed by emails and texts, as well as her broader conservative political activism, have served as a focal point for political arguments about the independence of a Supreme Court that is set to start a new term Monday with a slate of controversial cases.

Gabe Roth, executive director for Fix the Court, an advocacy group for judicial ethics, noted that it was the first time the spouse of a Supreme Court justice has appeared before a congressional committee in this fashion.

“It’s unprecedented, but so was the insurrection and the effort that led up to it,” Roth said. “So I think you have two sides of the unprecedented coin here.”

Thomas did not answer questions from the press as she arrived Thursday morning, according to media accounts.

Interview arranged

Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., announced Wednesday that the panel would interview Thomas sometime this week after a monthslong effort to secure her testimony. Earlier this month, panel member Jamie Raskin, D-Md., said Thomas would have “relevant testimony” about the effort to overturn the election.

In part, the select committee has said groups met on Dec. 14, 2020, in seven states that Biden won — Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, New Mexico, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — and submitted bogus slates of Electoral College votes for Trump. Those groups then transmitted purported Electoral College certificates to Congress, which were used by those advising Trump or his campaign to justify delaying or blocking the certification of Biden’s victory, according to the committee.

Earlier this month, investigative nonprofit group Documented published a series of emails Ginni Thomas sent in 2020 to state legislators in Wisconsin and Arizona asking that they “fight back against fraud” and choose a “clean” slate of presidential electors after Trump’s loss in both states.

In May, CNN published a trove of text messages between Ginni Thomas and former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. In them, she urged Meadows to “Help this Great President Stand Firm” and referred to the election as a “heist” by Democrats.

A former top aide to Meadows said that, prior to the riot day, he was aware that violence at the Capitol was possible. Meadows allegedly told her “things might get real, real bad on Jan. 6.”

Legal ethics experts and Democrats have pointed to Thomas’ activism and her husband’s rulings in significant cases as part of a broader push to reform Supreme Court ethics.

Clarence Thomas was the only dissenting vote in a January decision concerning Trump’s attempt to keep the committee from accessing records from his time in office. That case may have included the texts between Ginni Thomas and Meadows, and it influenced debate over a Supreme Court ethics bill that the House Judiciary Committee advanced in May.

The bill would impose new recusal standards on justices and require the Supreme Court to promulgate a code of conduct for its members.

But that push has run into staunch Republican opposition from members who accuse Democrats of singling out Clarence Thomas and other conservatives for opinions they disagree with. The measure, one of several Supreme Court ethics proposals introduced this Congress, has not been brought up for a floor vote.

The Jan. 6 panel canceled a planned hearing Wednesday without rescheduling because of Hurricane Ian’s impending landfall in Florida. After more than a half-dozen hearings over the summer, panel leaders promised more in September before issuing a final report before the end of the year.

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