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Ginni Thomas, a conservative activist married to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, agreed to speak to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Committee members said they wanted to speak with her because she may have information relating to the efforts of John Eastman, an attorney for then-President Donald Trump, to overturn the 2020 election.
Text messages obtained by media outlets show that Thomas urged then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to continue pursuing efforts to reject and overturn the election results. Emails also revealed she implored lawmakers in battleground states to ignore the results of the popular vote in their states.
Thomas said she briefly attended the Jan. 6, 2021, rally, but left before Trump’s speech and the violence that followed. She denied having any role in organizing the rally.
Conservative activist Virginia "Ginni" Thomas will speak to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol about her involvement in efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
It’s a notable development for many reasons, not the least of which is that she is married to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Her lawyer, Mark Paoletta, confirmed she agreed to a voluntary interview with the panel, according to news reports.
That agreement came three months after the committee sent Thomas a letter requesting an interview. Although Thomas initially said she was willing, Paoletta pushed back on the committee’s request, asking it in an eight-page letter to justify the need to speak with Thomas, NBC News reported.
It is unclear what changed to allow the interview with the committee to proceed. A date for the interview has not yet been set.
Reps. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., the committee’s chair and vice chair, respectively, indicated they wanted to speak with Thomas after discovering references to her in communications from John Eastman, one of the lawyers for former President Donald Trump, The Associated Press reported.
Eastman was the architect of a plan to have then-Vice President Mike Pence set aside Electoral College votes from seven states and deny President Joe Biden victory. Eastman outlined his six-step plan in a memo obtained by CNN and others. It included having states send a second slate of electors. Eastman pleaded the Fifth Amendment 100 times in a deposition before the committee.
Part of a memo from John Eastman, a lawyer for former President Donald Trump, is displayed on the screen during a Jan. 6 committee hearing at the Capitol in Washington, June 16, 2022. (AP)
"We believe you may have information concerning John Eastman’s plans and activities relevant to our investigation," Thompson and Cheney wrote to Thomas in a letter obtained by The New York Times.
Thomas said in a June 16 interview with the conservative Daily Caller that she "can’t wait to clear up misconceptions. I look forward to talking to them."
Eastman downplayed a Washington Post report of his communications with Thomas. He wrote on his Substack blog that a Dec. 4, 2020, email cited in the Post story merely shows her inviting him to speak about election litigation to Frontliners, a group which Thomas described as "grassroots state leaders."
There was also earlier debate within the Jan. 6 committee about whether to ask Thomas to testify following revelations in March that she had exchanged more than two dozen text messages with then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. Her messages urged Meadows to intensify his efforts to overturn Biden’s election victory.
"Help This Great President stand firm, Mark!!!" Thomas wrote to Meadows Nov. 10, 2020, three days after the Associated Press and Fox News had declared Biden the winner. "You are the leader, with him, who is standing for America’s constitutional governance at the precipice. The majority knows Biden and the Left is attempting the greatest Heist of our History."
That’s according to reporting by The Washington Post and CBS News. The news organizations obtained 29 text messages between Thomas and Meadows that were among more than 2,000 Meadows turned over to the Jan. 6 committee during its investigation.
The committee has not publicly released the texts.
On Nov. 19, Thomas texted Meadows about Sidney Powell, a lawyer who falsely claimed Trump won the election in a landslide and said electronic voting machines were made for changing election results. Thomas encouraged Meadows to continue working with Powell, who was part of the unsuccessful effort to file legal challenges to election results in states Trump lost.
"Sounds like Sidney and her team are getting inundated with evidence of fraud," Thomas wrote. "Make a plan. Release the Kraken and save us from the left taking America down."
The phrase "release the Kraken" had been adopted by election deniers to refer to false claims of election fraud they hoped would invalidate Biden’s win. Many of Thomas’ messages to Meadows contained this type of coded language used by promoters of baseless conspiracy theories.
Sidney Powell, right, speaks next to former Mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani, as members of President Donald Trump's legal team, during a news conference at the Republican National Committee headquarters, Nov. 19, 2020, in Washington. (AP)
Thomas also implored lawmakers in battleground states to ignore the results of the election.
She sent emails encouraging 29 Republican lawmakers in Arizona and two Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin to set aside Biden’s popular-vote victory in their states and instead select their own presidential electors, according to emails obtained by The Washington Post.
Thomas attended the pro-Trump rally at the Ellipse, but she told the Washington Free Beacon she got cold and left before Trump’s speech and the Capitol attack that followed. Eastman and Rudy Giuliani, another Trump lawyer, both spoke at the rally before Trump took the stage at noon.
On the morning of Jan. 6, in Facebook posts that are no longer public, she expressed support for rally attendees. "Love MAGA people," she wrote in one all-caps post, and "God bless each of you for standing up or praying," she wrote in another, according to a Slate reporter’s tweeted screenshots. She later amended the posts to clarify they were written before the violence, Slate reported.
On the morning of Jan. 6, Ginni Thomas—wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas—endorsed the protest demanding that Congress overturn the election, then sent her “LOVE” to the demonstrators, who violently overtook the Capitol several hours later. She has not posted since. pic.twitter.com/378CHMkFN5— Mark Joseph Stern (@mjs_DC) January 8, 2021
"I was disappointed and frustrated that there was violence that happened following a peaceful gathering of Trump supporters on the Ellipse on Jan. 6," she told the Free Beacon in March 2022.
Thomas has denied playing any role in planning the rally.
Rioters try to break through a police barrier at the Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021. (AP)
The New York Times Magazine reported in March that her role in the rally went deeper than she claims. The article quoted Dustin Stockton, an organizer with Women for America First, which held the permit for the rally. The article said Stockton was told by another organizer that Thomas played a role in mediating disputes "between feuding factions of rally organizers."
After that article was published, Kylie Jane Kremer, the executive director of Women for America First, issued a statement denying that Thomas had any role in planning the Jan. 6 rally, according to Times reporter Danny Hakim.
Thomas told the Free Beacon that she "played no role with those who were planning and leading the Jan. 6 events" and denied the allegation that she "mediated feuding factions of leaders for that day."
There were also unsubstantiated reports after the attack that she paid for buses to transport people to the rally, an allegation she denied in her interview with the Free Beacon.
The Associated Press, "Jan. 6 panel sends letter asking Ginni Thomas to testify," June 16, 2022
PolitiFact, "Jan. 6 hearing piles on evidence: Pence didn’t have power to change 2020 election," June 17, 2022
CNN, "READ: Trump lawyer's memo on six-step plan for Pence to overturn the election," Sept. 21, 2021
C-SPAN, "Jan. 6 Committee: John Eastman Plead the Fifth 100 Times After Not Getting Pardon," June 16, 2022
The Daily Caller, "EXCLUSIVE: Ginni Thomas Responds To Jan. 6 Committee’s Official Request For Testimony," June 28, 2022
John Eastman, Substack, "OMG, Mrs. Thomas asked me to give an update about election litigation to her group. Stop the Presses!," June 16, 2022
The Washington Post, "Ginni Thomas corresponded with John Eastman, sources in Jan. 6 House investigation say," June 15, 2022
The Washington Post, "John Eastman says Ginni Thomas invited him to speak on ‘election litigation’," June 16, 2022
Axios, "Jan. 6 panel to seek testimony from Ginni Thomas," June 16, 2022
Politico, "Judge sends another trove of Eastman emails to Jan. 6 committee," June 7, 2022
The New York Times, "Jan. 6 Hearing Will Highlight Trump’s Pressure Campaign on State Officials," June 20, 2022
NBC News, "Ginni Thomas' lawyer wants 'better justification' for her testifying to Jan. 6 panel," June 29, 2022
PolitiFact, "A fact-checker’s guide to Ginni Thomas’ texts to Trump’s chief of staff," March 25, 2022
The New York Times, "Ginni Thomas Texts Expose Rift in House Jan. 6 Panel," March 25, 2022
New York Times Magazine, "The Long Crusade of Clarence and Ginni Thomas," Feb. 22, 2022
Danny Hakim, New York Times reporter, tweet on Feb. 22, 2022
The New York Times, "Ginni Thomas Says She Attended Jan. 6 Rally," March 14, 2022
The Washington Free Beacon, "EXCLUSIVE: Ginni Thomas Wants To Set the Record Straight on January 6," March 14, 2022
Slate, "Ginni Thomas, Wife of Clarence, Cheered On the Rally That Turned Into the Capitol Riot," Jan. 8, 2022
Mark Joseph Stern, Slate reporter, tweet on Jan. 7, 2022
PolitiFact, "There’s no evidence Ginni Thomas organized Jan. 6 events," Jan 11, 2022
PolitiFact, "The facts of a fair US election have only gotten stronger since Capitol attack," Jan. 6, 2022
CNN, "First on CNN: Ginni Thomas agrees to January 6 committee interview," Sept. 21, 2022
The New York Times, "Virginia Thomas Agrees to Interview With Jan. 6 Panel," Sept. 21, 2022
The New York Times, "‘Release the Kraken,’ a catchphrase for unfounded conspiracy theory, trends on Twitter," Nov. 17, 2020
The New York Times, "Texts Show Ginni Thomas’s Embrace of Conspiracy Theories," March 26, 2022
The New York Times, "Ginni Thomas Pressed Trump’s Chief of Staff to Overturn 2020 Vote, Texts Show," March 24, 2022
Axios, "Ginni Thomas says she attended Jan. 6 rally but left before riot," March 14, 2022
The Washington Post, "Virginia Thomas urged White House chief to pursue unrelenting efforts to overturn the 2020 election, texts show," March 24, 2022
The Washington Post, "Ginni Thomas pressed Wisconsin lawmakers to overturn Biden’s 2020 victory," Sept. 1, 2022
The Washington Post, "Ginni Thomas pressed 29 Ariz. lawmakers to help overturn Trump’s defeat, emails show," June 10, 2022
The Associated Press, "Ginni Thomas’ emails deepen her involvement in 2020 election," May 20, 2022
The Associated Press, "Justice Thomas’ wife long steeped in conservative politics," March 25, 2022
Newsweek, "Ginni Thomas Subpoena Calls Grow Over John Eastman Jan. 6 Emails," June 16, 2022
Newsweek, "Five Questions For Ginni Thomas When She Faces Jan. 6 Probe," Sept. 22, 2022
PolitiFact, "Trump lawyer falsely claims voting technology companies were created for changing election results," Nov. 19, 2020
NPR, "AP Explains Calling Arizona For Biden Early, Before It Got Very Close," Nov. 19, 2020
The Associated Press, "After waiting game, media moves swiftly to call Biden winner," Nov. 7, 2020
National Archives, "2020 Electoral College results," accessed Sept. 22, 2022
NBC News, "Jan. 6 panel has text messages between Ginni Thomas and Mark Meadows about keeping Trump in office," March 24, 2022
USA Today, "Fact check: Trump lawyer Sidney Powell falsely stated he won election ‘by a landslide,’" Nov. 24, 2020
CNN, "The January 6 insurrection: Minute-by-minute," July 29, 2022
C-SPAN, "Rudy Giuliani & Professor John Eastman," Jan. 6, 2021