Ginni Thomas’ new position, as clarified by her lawyers, is that she isn’t going to testify because the committee has “no basis” to interview her. In a long letter to committee heads Rep. Bennie Thompson and Liz Cheney, Thomas’ lawyer says the committee must provide “better justification” for why the committee wants her testimony.
So, imagine that: We’ve swiftly once again gone from a Republican vow to clear themselves to a clarification that they will absolutely not agree to be put under oath when declaring that innocence. What a shocker.
You can read the letter if you want the “not under oath” version of events from Thomas, or you can not bother because, again: not under oath. But Thomas’ lawyer for the day got to bill some decent hours for this new demand that the House select committee investigating a violent coup against the government better explain why it wants to hear from an extremely prominent Republican activist identified as sharing anti-election conspiracy hoaxes and other forms of pressure with Trump officials now known to be at the very heart of the coup’s planning, so—in the interest of squeezing more money out of whoever’s funding Ginni Thomas’ campaign of far-right paranoia—let’s give her legal team a head start on figuring out why coup investigators might want to hear her explanations right from the horse’s mouth, as it were. Shall we?
First, the committee has evidence Ginni Thomas was funneling election conspiracy hoaxes directly to the White House chief of staff, hoaxes that were being used as supposed evidence of the illegitimacy of the 2020 presidential election, and of the sort that the sitting president was himself promoting. She promoted those hoaxes as if real, even bolstering Mark Meadows, now known to have played an important role in letting the Capitol violence unfold, with assertions that fighting the election’s results was a “fight of good versus evil.” Those messages also advocated for White House actions that the White House later took, such as the elevation of crank lawyer and hoax promoter Sidney Powell.
Second, Thomas’ similar advocacy for central figure John Eastman—architect of the plan that would have seen Vice President Mike Pence unilaterally overturn the results of a presidential election through the introduction of fake electoral slates meant to challenge the real, certified electors—likely gives her insight into how Eastman concocted the plan and, importantly, the “evidence” circulating among the coup plotters used to justify it. But Eastman also made the incendiary claim that he had been made aware of a “heated fight” inside the Supreme Court as justices privately mulled the legal questions Eastman was raising with his plan to declare the election’s results invalid based on the White House’s own say-so.
That claim puts Ginni Thomas squarely in the spotlight. There is likely nobody Eastman was in contact with who would have had more intimate knowledge of the Supreme Court justices’ positions. She’s married to one. She’s based a consulting career on selling herself as someone who knows what arguments you should use to best sway court conservatives, aka her husband, when preparing cases; her communications with Eastman during this time would therefore naturally come under scrutiny.
It’s possible that Eastman was simply lying about his court access. It’s possible he had insight into the court’s state of mind through other channels. It is perfectly reasonable, however, for those investigating a violent coup to pose questions about the coup planners’ efforts to put the nullification of an American election on some sort of legal or pseudo-legal footing.
We also know that Eastman himself believed his legalese amounted to an illegal scheme, even as he continued to push for it. That gives the committee all the more reason to want to probe all of Eastman’s contacts to confirm who was telling him what, and when.
Third, Ginni Thomas’ actions show her to have been vigorous in herself promoting the hoaxes that the White House was using to falsely discredit the election and goad Congress into overturning it. She personally signed a letter demanding Arizona Republican legislators toss out the state’s presidential results to assign a new, pro-Trump slate of electors—the precise plan Eastman himself was basing his own efforts on. Thomas was not a bystander here, but part of a larger group of very prominent Republican pundits, consultants, and operatives who were actively promoting fraudulent hoaxes challenging the election’s results and using those fraudulent claims to advocate for the Eastman plan.
That’s … a very big deal! If Thomas either herself knew those hoaxes to be fraudulent or simply did not bother to make the most minimal checks of their accuracy, that expands the bounds of the seditious conspiracy to her own social circle. She advocated, personally, for the nullification of an American election based solely on manufactured hoaxes crafted to discredit Biden (and only Biden) votes. She was in direct contact with individuals in the White House who were using those hoaxes to pressure states into changing election totals and who, when all other efforts had failed, solicited a furious mob of hoax believers for the purpose of disrupting the joint session of Congress that would formalize the election’s results.
No, perhaps the committee would not be looking for Ginni Thomas’ testimony if she was instead Ginni Jones, podunk gadfly tweeting Facebook memes and amplifying whatever conspiracy theories were floating through her own social circles. But none of those other people were in direct contact with multiple people inside the Trump White House who were themselves active in attempts to nullify an American election, or able to provide legal insight into strategies her own husband would be most receptive to in legal arguments justifying such nullification.
Yes, it is very tragic she has gotten involved in all of this by virtue of … being an omnipresent voice in Trumpism who has previously advocated for purging non-Republicans from government while elevating maudlin conspiracy theories intended to justify those acts. The world is unfair. Consider an appearance before a House committee to be the price of admission, if you are a very powerful partisan advocating for very extraordinary things.
Thomas’ messages indicate that she both has insight into how anti-democratic hoaxes began to percolate in the White House and considerable possible knowledge of who, inside the White House and outside it, was most supportive of those hoaxes. Given that we are investigating the origins of a violent coup attempt, it is reasonable to expect Ginni Thomas to want to testify about the origins of a plan that ended in violence. It would be the decent and patriotic thing to do, if Ginni were not notoriously averse to both of those things.
The committee is not particularly interested in what Ginni Thomas thinks or in her omnipresent efforts to ingratiate herself to Washington elites through the relentless promotion of partisan crackpottisms. The committee wants to know whether Thomas was in communication with anyone else now identified as central to election nullification efforts. It wants to know whether Thomas can provide testimony as to the state of mind of those inside the White House who are themselves refusing to testify about the sequence of events that led to deaths in the United States Capitol. It wants to know if Thomas has any insight into White House claims that the Supreme Court was signaling a willingness to debate the legal merits of declaring Mike Pence sole arbiter of our elections.
Ginni Thomas has made a Washington career asserting she has access to power and skill in bending that power, so a letter from a lawyer insisting that she is but a mere Facebook-reading bystander as the coup unfolded around her is a bit much. Thomas has every right to answer questions that would provide evidence of crimes on her part; she has no right to declare that she need not show up to be questioned at all, or to refuse questions pertaining to the possible criminality of others.
The committee is investigating a multi-pronged effort to topple the United States government through legal wrangling, weaponized disinformation, and organized efforts to put a violent mob on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. If Ginni Thomas believes that is not a serious enough investigation to merit her own cooperation—not unless she gets something of personal use to her, a “clearing” of her name—then we in the public can come to our own moral conclusions about that.