By Mary Clare Jalonick and Lisa Mascaro | Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Virginia Thomas, the wife of US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, says she regrets texting then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows after the 2020 election, and he told the House committee on January 6 that he would “return them all.” if she could today.”
Thomas, known as Ginni, is a longtime conservative activist. In a transcript of the interview released by the panel on Friday, she told investigators she was “excited” after the election when she sent several text messages to Meadows urging him to stand firm with then-President Donald Trump, as he falsely claimed that there was fraud in the elections.
In the texts, he lamented the state of American politics, calling the election a “theft.” Thomas told the panel that he still feels there were election irregularities, but he believes that Joe Biden is the president of the United States.
“You know, it was an emotional moment,” Thomas told the committee. “I regret that these texts exist.”
The nine-member panel sought out Thomas’s interview, and she volunteered. Although Thomas urged Meadows to act, and she is married to one of the nine Supreme Court justices reviewing Trump’s election challenges at the time, investigators did not believe she played a significant role in Trump’s efforts to nullify the election or their inaction as the violent insurrection unfolded. Her name does not appear once in the committee’s final report released last week.
Still, the committee tried to talk to her as she put together a full account of the January 6, 2021 insurrection and the weeks before. The committee’s chair and vice chair, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Mississippi, and Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyoming, said the panel wanted to speak to her after her name appeared in communications with other witnesses.
Thomas’ attorney, Mark Paoletta, said in a statement Friday that his absence from the report was a conclusion that “was obvious from the start” and that his post-election activities were “minimal and conventional.”
In the interview, Thomas characterized herself as an “instigator” of Groundswell and other Conservative advocacy groups that have met weekly as a coalition for years. She and her husband are longtime partners with conservative lawyer John Eastman, an architect of the scheme for several 2020 battleground states to send alternative voters for Trump, rather than Biden.
Thomas said that while she was interested in filing allegations of voter fraud, she had largely stepped aside after the election because she felt her presence as the wife of Judge Thomas often “cooled off” the discussion. She insisted that she operated separately from her husband.
“It is ridiculous that anyone who knows my husband thinks that I can influence his jurisprudence,” she said. “The man is independent and stubborn.”
Thomas said during the interview that he was still concerned about voter fraud, but offered little evidence. Pressed by investigators about her post-election efforts to challenge the election results, Thomas demurred.
When told by the panel that Trump-aligned attorney Cleta Mitchell testified under oath that Thomas had questioned her about possible Georgia election fraud, Thomas said she couldn’t remember the conversation.
“I have no recollection of that,” Thomas told investigators. “All he was doing was looking for fraud and irregularities in the election, not annulling it.”
Several times, lawmakers dug deeper into Thomas’ responses, and she had few details to offer in return.
“I think I understood you to say that you never saw any list of fraud or wrongdoing,” Cheney asked him at one point.
“Right,” Thomas replied. “I know. I didn’t go very deep.”
“But are you sure that there was fraud and irregularities?” Cheney continued.
“I was hearing about it, Congressman, from a lot of people that I trust,” Thomas said.
Cheney asked Thomas if he was aware that he had been told by Trump’s own advisers, the attorney general and others that there was no fraud that would change the outcome of the election.
“That was news to me, Congressman,” Thomas responded.
Cheney asked when he realized that.
“I think some time after this committee began its work,” Thomas responded.
But Thomas said that even if he had been aware, he would not change his views. “I just think there are still concerns,” Thomas said, as he acknowledged that Biden is president.
Time and again, the panel confronted Thomas in his own words, including a text message to Meadows a week after the election in which he suggested that attorney Sidney Powell “will help the cavalry come and expose the fraud and save To united states”. Powell was behind some of the most outrageous claims by Trump allies, including that foreign countries were hacking into voting machines.
Thomas explained to investigators that he did not really know Powell at the time, and as he learned more over the next several weeks, “I got off that bandwagon.”
He also told investigators that he contacted Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, while trying to encourage the defeated president’s team to investigate possible voter fraud after the 2020 election.
“I was trying to buoy him up and encourage him to hold his ground until all the evidence was in,” Thomas told investigators, writing to Kushner in an email.
At one point, he got the sympathy of the researchers.
“I think it could be a unanimous opinion from everyone on this call and in this room that I don’t know how many of you would want your text messages made public on the front page of The Washington Post,” Thomas said, referring to early reports of your communications.
“I get it,” said California Rep. Adam Schiff, a Democratic member of the committee. And I’m sure you’re right, no one would like to see his personal texts in the newspaper.
Associated Press writer Eric Tucker contributed to this report.