In the nearly two years that have passed since the 2020 elections, we’ve learned quite a bit about Ginni Thomas’ political efforts, and it’s tempting to think there isn’t much more that could emerge. Those assumptions, however, would be wrong. The Washington Post moved the ball forward on its earlier reporting today:
Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, the conservative activist and wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, pressed lawmakers to overturn Joe Biden’s 2020 victory not only in Arizona, as previously reported, but also in a second battleground state, Wisconsin, according to emails obtained under state public-records law.
Let’s briefly pause to review how we arrived at this point, because the context makes all the difference.
The Post first reported in May on Thomas pressing GOP state legislators in Arizona to ignore the will of the voters and appoint their own “clean slate” of electors. At the time, the article referenced two Republicans who were on the receiving end of Thomas’ lobbying.
In June, the newspaper added to the story, showing that her efforts were more expansive than first thought. The Post added that on Nov. 9, 2020 — two days after the race was called and Joe Biden became the president-elect — Thomas “sent identical emails to 20 members of the Arizona House and seven Arizona state senators. That represents more than half of the Republican members of the state legislature at the time.”
What’s more, Thomas gave the Arizona legislators radically bad advice: In a state the Democratic ticket narrowly won — according to counts, recounts, and audits — the far-right activist wrote that responsibility to choose electors was “yours and yours alone.”
In other words, Thomas suggested they had the legal authority to ignore the will of Arizona voters. They did not.
But the aggressive lobbying campaign continued anyway. In fact, Thomas emailed Arizona Republican lawmakers more than once: Her Nov. 9 message was followed by related emails a month later — targeting 22 state House members and one state senator — sent the day before members of the electoral college met.
According to the new reporting, which has not been independently verified by MSNBC or NBC News, Thomas engaged in a related and simultaneous lobbying effort in Wisconsin. From today’s article:
The new emails show that Thomas also messaged two Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin: state Sen. Kathy Bernier, then chair of the Senate elections committee, and state Rep. Gary Tauchen. Bernier and Tauchen received the email at 10:47 a.m. on Nov. 9, virtually the same time the Arizona lawmakers received a verbatim copy of the message from Thomas. The Bernier email was obtained by The Post, and the Tauchen email was obtained by the watchdog group Documented and provided to The Post.
It’s important to emphasize, of course, that Thomas’ lobbying efforts did not work, and the legitimate results in Arizona and Wisconsin were properly certified. But that doesn’t negate the significance of the fact that she invested time and effort into an anti-election scheme designed to undermine our democracy.
Indeed, it’s striking just how busy Thomas was during the Trump era. The Daily Beast reported, for example, that the activist would routinely meet with Donald Trump during his White House tenure, handing him lists of people to hire and fire.
The report quoted one former official saying, “These f***ing lists were so insane and unworkable. A lot of them were dripping with paranoia and read like they were written by a disturbed person.”
All the while, Thomas also worked with political organizations that had a stake in decisions before the Supreme Court — where, incidentally, her husband works as one of nine sitting justices.
She became even busier in the immediate aftermath of Trump’s defeat. For example, Thomas attended the pre-riot “Stop the Steal” rally on Jan. 6. Separate reports in The New Yorker and The New York Times Magazine added that she also played an organizing role in the pro-Trump gathering just south of the White House.
She also had extensive communications with then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, with whom Thomas discussed strategies to overturn the election results. Thomas also reportedly pressured congressional Republicans to do more to overturn the election, including calling on lawmakers to go “out in the streets.” By some accounts, she even reached out to Jared Kushner about legal options surrounding the larger offensive.
This is not a situation in which the spouse of a sitting justice simply expressed political opinions. As The New York Times recently explained, the text messages between Thomas and Meadows “demonstrated that she was an active participant in shaping the legal effort to overturn the election.”
And it was against this backdrop that Clarence Thomas heard arguments in election-related cases.
The Republican-appointed jurist insisted in the spring that our system is threatened if Americans are unwilling to “live with outcomes we don’t agree with.” If only his wife agreed.