It’s been more than four months since news broke that Virginia “Ginni” Thomas repeatedly and directly pushed Mark Meadows, then-president Donald Trump’s chief of staff, to find a way to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
The House Committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection needs to hear from Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. And if she won’t speak to the panel by choice, she should be subpoenaed.
“The committee is engaged with her counsel. We certainly hope that she will agree to come in voluntarily but the committee is fully prepared to contemplate a subpoena if she does not,” Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the committee’s vice chair, recently said on CNN. “I hope it doesn’t get to that. I hope she will come in voluntarily.”
It’s unlikely that Thomas, a prominent right-wing activist, will appear before the nine-member panel voluntarily. She already passed on an opportunity in June when she received an invitation to speak with the committee. Clearly they want to know more about the 29 text exchanges she had with Meadows after the election imploring him to stop what she called “the greatest Heist in our History.”
In some of those texts, Thomas shared far-right conspiracies and urged Meadows to “Release the Kraken and save us from the left taking America down.”
Her lawyer, Mark Paoletta, responded that the committee needed to provide “a better justification for why Mrs. Thomas’s testimony is relevant to the Committee’s legislative purpose.” Thomas, he said, would be “willing to appear,” but he was concerned that the committee’s invitation was an attempt to “continue the baseless harassment she has been subjected to since January 6.”
In addition to Meadows, Thomas was also in contact with lawyer and Trump confidante John Eastman, and pressured more than two dozen Arizona lawmakers to flip their state from Biden to Trump. If Thomas is “eager to clear her name” as Paoletta claimed, she would testify.
The committee’s interest in Thomas isn’t driven by “baseless harassment.” She wasn’t just another agitated MAGA fan on the sidelines regurgitating lies from the QAnon fringe. She had stunning access to Meadows, Trump’s top aide, and offered suggestions on how the White House could still reverse-engineer a fraudulent election victory for Trump.
It is important for the committee to better understand those communications between Thomas and Meadows and what Thomas might have known before and during the violent breaching of the US Capitol by an armed mob incited by Trump. Thomas has admitted that she attended Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally on Jan. 6, a prelude to the deadly insurrection, but she did not march to the Capitol. But the committee might also want to ask her about her prominent role in a right-wing organization, the Council for National Policy, that began pushing to reverse Biden’s victory soon after the election, and her reported work coordinating feuding factions of the Jan. 6 rally.
That the committee is only “prepared to fully contemplate” a subpoena for Thomas may be due to the unusual nature of serving the spouse of a sitting Supreme Court justice. Though Thomas said she doesn’t involve her husband in her work, there are already legitimate questions about Clarence Thomas’s refusal to recuse himself from cases concerning the election and Jan. 6.
In January, Thomas was the only justice to vote against the release of White House records connected to the insurrection. Last year in a case involving the expanded use of mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania, Thomas didn’t just dissent but resurrected mendacious claims pushed by Trump about the legitimacy of such ballots.
Yes, issuing a subpoena to Thomas would be unprecedented but these have been relentlessly unprecedented times. As Attorney General Merrick Garland said last week, “No person is above the law in this country.” Without mentioning any names, he was referring to Trump. The Jan. 6 committee should apply that same unyielding standard and immediately subpoena the woman who seemed willing to keep the former president in office by any means necessary.
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