The select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol may want to talk to Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Or it may not. There’s internal debate on the committee after 29 text messages exchanged between Ginni Thomas and former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in the weeks after Donald Trump lost in 2020 were found in documents Meadows voluntarily turned over. “Do not concede,” Thomas texted Meadows. “It takes time for the army who is gathering for [Trump’s] back.”
When the wife and “best friend” of a Supreme Court justice is urging on a coup attempt that leads to cases before the Supreme Court, should that be of interest to the committee investigating the coup attempt? Gosh, that’s a tough one.
Why would the committee not want to talk to Ginni Thomas? “Some saw the pursuit of Ms. Thomas as a distraction from more important targets,” The New York Times reports. “Others worried that pursuing Ms. Thomas could by implication sully the reputation of Justice Thomas, an icon among the Republican base. Still others argued that the panel could not know the full extent of her role without further questioning. And some members of the committee saw the text messages for the first time on Thursday.”
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Significantly, Rep. Liz Cheney, the Republican vice chair of the committee, said Friday she wouldn’t object to calling Ginni Thomas in for a voluntary interview, and CNN reports that most members of the committee agree.
Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Cory Booker, both members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, called on Clarence Thomas to recuse himself from cases relating to the 2020 election. Thomas has never recused himself from a case involving his wife, despite her long record of involvement in organizations with ties to Supreme Court cases. He did recuse himself in a 1995 case involving the Virginia Military Institute, which his son was attending.
“The facts are clear here. This is unbelievable,” Klobuchar said on ABC News. “You have the wife of a sitting Supreme Court justice advocating for an insurrection, advocating for overturning a legal election to the sitting president’s chief of staff. And she also knows this election, these cases are going to come before her husband.”
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Booker spoke to the legitimacy of the court if a justice has the strong appearance of a conflict of interest, pointing out how Justice Elena Kagan has recused herself at times “not necessarily because she was conflicted, but because she understood that even the appearance of impropriety would delegitimize the court.” Similarly, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson pledged during her confirmation hearings to recuse herself from a case involving Harvard University because she is currently sitting on the university’s board—even though her board term will have ended by the time she would be hearing such a case.
In contrast, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy doesn’t think Clarence Thomas should bother recusing himself from anything. Nor does Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Top Republicans, unsurprisingly, want their guy on the case no matter how much of an ethical problem it is or how damaging it might be to the legitimacy of the court.
Ginni Thomas was texting the White House chief of staff with specific—if bad—legal advice for efforts to overturn the 2020 elections in court. She sent him a link to a conspiracy theorist. Above all, she urged him—and, by extension, Trump—not to stop trying to undo the results of the election to keep the loser in power. And her powerful husband, with the support of top Republicans, intends to keep being one of nine votes in cases about how to handle the outcome of those efforts to overturn the election. Or the next one. Corruption does more than run deep in the Republican Party these days: It defines the party.
Texts between Ginni Thomas, Meadows reveal an extraordinary effort to destroy democracy
Kevin McCarthy doesn't want Clarence Thomas to recuse himself from Jan. 6 cases. Go figure