US Supreme Court justice’s wife questioned by January 6 panel

Virginia ‘Ginni’ Thomas, a conservative activist, meets with committee investigating last year’s US Capitol riot.

Ginni Thomas walks to be interviewed by the January 6 panel
Virginia 'Ginni' Thomas, the wife of US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, walks with her lawyer to be interviewed by the January 6 panel in Washington, DC, on September 29 [J Scott Applewhite/AP Photo]

Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, the wife of US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, has been interviewed by the January 6 committee investigating last year’s riot at the United States Capitol.

Thomas, a conservative activist, appeared on Capitol Hill on Thursday for a voluntary interview with the Congressional panel, which has sought to ask her questions for months.

Democratic Congressman Bennie Thompson, who chairs the committee, told reporters that Thomas was answering some questions and had reiterated her belief that the 2020 US presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump.

“It’s a work in progress,” Thompson told reporters following the interview, which lasted more than four hours. “At this point, we’re glad she came.”

Thomas has said she attended a pro-Trump rally on January 6, 2021, during which the former US president made an incendiary speech alleging widespread voter fraud shortly before a mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol.

But she said she “played no role” in planning what happened that day, CNN reported earlier this year.

The January 6 panel, which has interviewed more than 1,000 witnesses in its investigation into the riot in Washington, DC, had hoped to interview Thomas before wrapping up its work.

The Washington Post reported in March that Thomas “repeatedly pressed” former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows in the weeks after the 2020 elections that Trump lost to President Joe Biden, urging him to continue to fight to overturn the results.

Trump’s legal team had filed a series of lawsuits seeking to invalidate the results on the basis of his false voter fraud claims – but several US courts rejected those allegations as unfounded.

The Post cited a November 10, 2020, text in which Thomas wrote to Meadows, “Help This Great President stand firm, Mark!!! … You are the leader, with him, who is standing for America’s constitutional governance at the precipice.”

In that same text, Thomas promoted Trump’s fraud allegations, stating that “Biden and the Left is attempting the greatest Heist of our History”.

The Associated Press news agency also obtained emails from Thomas urging two lawmakers in Arizona to choose “a clean slate of Electors” and “stand strong in the face of political and media pressure”.

In a statement on Thursday, her lawyer, Mark Paoletta, said Thomas had “significant concerns about fraud and irregularities in the 2020 election” and that her actions were focused on ensuring that “reports of fraud and irregularities were investigated”.

“Beyond that, she played no role in any events after the 2020 election results,” he added.

Thomas also has maintained that her political activities are not a conflict of interest for her husband.

“Like so many married couples, we share many of the same ideals, principles, and aspirations for America. But we have our own separate careers, and our own ideas and opinions too. Clarence doesn’t discuss his work with me, and I don’t involve him in my work,” she told the Washington Free Beacon in March.

Her husband, Clarence Thomas, was the only member of the US Supreme Court to object to a ruling that allowed the January 6 panel access to presidential diaries, visitor logs, speech drafts and handwritten notes relating to the riot.

Thomas has been actively critical of the January 6 committee and signed a letter calling on House Republicans to expel Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger for their involvement in the panel.

Thomas did not answer questions when she arrived for the interview on Thursday, the Reuters and Associated Press news agencies reported. But she told reporters she was looking forward to answering questions from the members of the committee, the AP said.

The January 6 committee was expected to hold a televised hearing on Wednesday, but it was postponed due to a massive storm, Hurricane Ian, which has battered the state of Florida.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies