Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, the conservative activist and wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, told the House Jan. 6 committee that she regretted text messages and emails that she sent in the aftermath of the 2020 election to Mark Meadows, former President Donald Trump’s then-chief of staff, and others.
According to a newly released transcript of her September interview with the committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol and Trump’s efforts to overturn the election results, Thomas said she regretted the fact that the messages “became public.”
“I don’t know how many of you would want your texts to become public on the front page of The Washington Post,” Thomas told congressional investigators. “Certainly, I didn’t want my emotional texts to a friend released and made available.”
Thomas’s post-election correspondence first became the subject of public scrutiny earlier this year, after a trove of records that Meadows provided to the select committee was revealed to contain 29 text messages that the chief of staff had exchanged with Thomas in the days and weeks following the election. At the time the messages were sent, Trump and his allies had been promising to take their election challenges to the Supreme Court, raising potential conflict of interest issues for Justice Thomas.
In the messages, Ginni Thomas urged Meadows to make sure Trump did not concede defeat to Joe Biden, and parroted many of the falsehoods and conspiracy theories that were spreading among Trump supporters in the aftermath of the election. Among the more fringe claims pushed by Thomas was a baseless theory popular among QAnon followers that Trump watermarked mail-in ballots to track fraud, and a claim circulated on right-wing websites that, in Thomas’s retelling, the “Biden crime family & ballot fraud co-conspirators” were “being arrested & detained for ballot fraud” and would be sent to the Guantanamo Bay detention center, on the coast of Cuba, “to face military tribunals for sedition.”
Thomas sat for a voluntary interview with the select committee on Sept. 29, 2022, months after the text messages first came to light. The transcript of that conversation was released Friday. The committee, which interviewed over 1,000 witnesses during its 18-month investigation, has been publishing the transcripts of those conversations in batches after the release of its 845-page final report on its findings last week.
In her interview with the panel, Thomas expressed regret, not just about her messages to Meadows, but about other emails and texts the committee obtained that she had sent regarding the election results and efforts to investigate alleged fraud.
Although Thomas told the committee, “I regret the tone and content of these texts” and said, “I wish I didn’t send them,” when pressed, she seemed to struggle to articulate why that was the case. She failed to offer any more insight into what, exactly, she objected to about the content of the messages themselves, saying only, “it was an emotional time.”
“It’s really embarrassing to go back to emails and texts that you did long ago,” Thomas told the panel. “I just wanted to get that on the record.”
Thomas, whose career as a conservative activist spans decades, began her conversation with the select committee by trying to dispel concerns that her pro-Trump advocacy might present a conflict of interest for her husband. Thomas told the committee she and her husband have an “an iron-clad rule” against discussing pending Supreme Court cases, and that she doesn’t discuss her political work with him, either.
In fact, even though she told the committee that a reference in a Nov. 24 text to Meadows about a conversation with her “best friend” referred to her husband, Thomas insisted that he “was completely unaware of the texts that I had with Mark Meadows” until they were reported by the press in March.
Thomas also told the committee that on Nov. 9, 2020, she’d decided to take a sabbatical from some of the conservative nonprofit organizations she works with, because their activities around the election were becoming “too legal,” and because she was concerned that her position as the wife of a Supreme Court Justice might make her friends uncomfortable. However, the terms of this sabbatical appear to have been loose, and Thomas acknowledged that she continued not only to receive emails regarding the organizations’ activities during this time but even invited the lawyer John Eastman, whom the committee has accused of conspiring with Trump to unlawfully overturn the election results, to speak at one of their meetings.
Throughout her interview with the committee, Thomas claimed to have little or no memory of her activities, conversations or media consumption during the weeks between the 2020 election and Jan. 6, 2021. What does appear to be clear, however, from her answers to the committee’s questions, is that Thomas, like many other supporters of the former president, was convinced that the official results of the 2020 election were not legitimate — despite her own admission that she never saw any evidence of voter fraud. It was this belief, she said, that motivated Thomas to attend Trump’s rally at the Capitol Ellipse on Jan. 6, 2021. She appeared to cling to this view nearly two years later, even as she acknowledged that “President Biden is the president.”
In an exchange with the committee’s vice chair, Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., Thomas said she didn’t think her view of the election would have changed if she’d known, as the panel’s investigation has since revealed, that Trump had been repeatedly informed, by senior campaign officials, the White House counsel’s office and even the attorney general, that there was no evidence to support the claims of widespread fraud.
“I worried that there was fraud and irregularities that distorted the election, but it wasn’t uncovered in a timely manner, so we have President Biden,” Thomas said.