Ginni Thomas Won’t Testify to Jan. 6 Committee, Lawyer Says — Here’s What We Know About Her Efforts To Overturn The Election

Topline

Conservative activist Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, will not testify to the House January 6 Committee as of now, her lawyer told the committee in a letter Tuesday, following a string of reports suggesting the justice’s wife supported efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election—including corresponding with Trump attorney John Eastman—that her attorney claims are being blown out of proportion.

Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas sits with his wife and conservative activist … [+] Virginia Thomas at the Heritage Foundation on October 21, 2021 in Washington, DC.

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Key Facts

The House January 6 Committee has obtained email correspondence between Thomas and Eastman, the Washington Post first reported on June 15, as part of a tranche of documents a judge forced Eastman to turn over to the committee regarding his efforts to help Trump overturn his election loss.

The Post reported the emails “show that Thomas’s efforts to overturn the election were more extensive than previously known” but did not give any details about their contents, though Eastman and Thomas’ attorney Mark R. Paoletta claimed Thomas had merely invited Eastman to speak to a group she’s involved with about his post-election efforts.

Thomas also corresponded with then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, text messages previously obtained by the committee reveal, sending at least 21 texts to Meadows in the aftermath of the election encouraging efforts to overturn the results (which Paoletta claimed Tuesday were simply her “express[ing] concerns” about the election).

Thomas told Meadows to “make a plan” and “release the Kraken” by soliciting help from far-right attorneys like Sidney Powell, for instance, and said on November 4, 2020, Trump should not concede because “it takes time for the army who is gathering for his back.”

She also contacted 29 Republican Arizona lawmakers after the election and encouraged them to choose “alternate” electors who would say Trump won the state instead of President Joe Biden, according to emails reported by the Post, though Paoletta argued she did not draft the letters she sent and “simply pushed a few buttons” to send them.

Thomas attended the rally on January 6 that preceded the attack on the Capitol building for a “short time,” she told the Washington Free Beacon in March, and the New Yorker and New York Times reported she served as an “intermediary” between groups that organized the event in the lead-up to it, which Thomas denies.

News Peg

Paoletta sent an eight-page letter to the House January 6 Committee saying Thomas wouldn’t testify to the lawmakers, claiming they do not “have a sufficient basis” to demand her testimony because the documents the committee has obtained do not show any wrongdoing. The committee asked Thomas to testify earlier in June after previously deciding it would likely not call Thomas as a witness or make her post-election efforts a focus of its investigation, according to the Post. Lawmakers then changed their mind based on the emails between her and Eastman, who a federal judge has already said “more likely than not” committed illegal obstruction in his efforts to help Trump overturn the election. Thomas initially said she would cooperate with the committee’s request, telling the Daily Caller she “can’t wait to clear up misconceptions” and “look[s] forward to talking to them.” According to a copy of the letter published by Politico, Paoletta said Tuesday that while Thomas is still willing to testify “as a means of clearing her name,” he’s concerned she’s “been asked to come in to continue the baseless harassment she has been subjected to since January 6.”

Crucial Quote

“Without more information, I am left to believe that, if her name were Ginni Jones, the committee would never even entertain speaking with her,” Paoletta wrote, insinuating lawmakers were largely going after Thomas because of her husband.

Tangent

The Times reported in mid-June that Eastman told the Trump campaign and a pro-Trump attorney to file a case disputing election results with the Supreme Court because he “understand[s] that there is a heated fight underway” between the justices over whether to take up post-election cases. The email was sent after the Supreme Court had already rejected multiple post-election lawsuits. The Times reports it’s still unknown what Eastman, himself a former clerk for Clarence Thomas, was basing his comments on the justices off of. (It may not have been Ginni Thomas, as the Post notes false reports of arguments between the justices were circulating online at the time.) In response to Eastman’s email, lawyer Kenneth Chesebro reportedly said the “odds” of Supreme Court action on overturning the election “will become more favorable if the justices start to fear that there will be ‘wild’ chaos on Jan. 6.”

What We Don’t Know

Exactly how much Thomas did following the election. It’s still unclear if there are more text messages between Thomas and Meadows that did not get turned over to the House committee, for instance, and one of her messages mentioned “an email I sent Jared,” suggesting Thomas may have been in contact with others at the Trump White House like advisor Jared Kushner.

Chief Critics

Beyond Paoletta, Eastman and Thomas themselves have also denied any wrongdoing post-election. “I can categorically confirm that at no time did I discuss with Mrs. Thomas or Justice Thomas any matters pending or likely to come before the Court,” Eastman wrote in a Substack post after his emails with Thomas were reported, saying the Post report was based on “false innuendo.” Thomas has previously denied that she discusses her work with her husband or that she has any influence on his work as a justice. “Clarence doesn’t discuss his work with me, and I don’t involve him in my work,” Thomas told the Free Beacon in March, adding they “do not discuss cases until opinions are public—and even then, our discussions have always been very general and limited to public information.”

Key Background

Thomas has long been known as a political activist, but her work has come under more scrutiny in recent months in light of recent profiles in the Times and New Yorker and as the conservative-leaning Supreme Court has taken up more political issues like gun control and abortion, as well as the reports on her post-election efforts. The criticism against Thomas has led to calls for her husband to recuse himself from any cases related to the 2020 election—and some on the left pushing for him to resign—particularly after Clarence Thomas was the only justice to dissent in a case concerning Trump documents being turned over to the January 6 committee. The justice has so far not made any commitment to recuse himself, and the court has not commented on Ginni Thomas, though some justices have otherwise spoken out in recent months against the general perception the court has become “politicized.” Ginni Thomas’ actions have helped contribute to a broader distrust among the American public in the Supreme Court, as polling shows trust in the institution has dropped to a new low.

Further Reading

Ginni Thomas lawyer has ‘serious concerns’ about Jan. 6 committee fairness (Politico)

Supreme Court Considered These Cases On The 2020 Election — As Justice Thomas’ Wife Ginni Wanted To Overturn It (Forbes)

Virginia Thomas—Wife Of Supreme Court Justice—Reportedly Pushed Trump’s Chief Of Staff To Challenge 2020 Election Loss (Forbes)

Ginni Thomas Urged 29 Arizona Lawmakers To Overturn Election Results—Dozens More Than Previously Known, Report Says (Forbes)

Ginni Thomas—Wife Of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas—Went To The Jan. 6 Rally, She Says (Forbes)

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas Faces Calls For Hearings, Recusal, Resignation For Wife’s Texts About 2020 Election (Forbes)

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