Donald Trump’s presidency was an enormously busy time for Ginni Thomas. The Daily Beast recently reported, for example, that the right-wing activist would routinely meet with the then-president, 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.
Of course, as regular readers know, 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.”
But that’s not all she did. The Washington Post reports today:
Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, the conservative activist and wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, pressed Arizona lawmakers after the 2020 election to set aside Joe Biden’s popular-vote victory and choose “a clean slate of Electors,” according to emails obtained by The Washington Post. The emails, sent by Ginni Thomas to a pair of lawmakers on Nov. 9, 2020, argued that legislators needed to intervene because the vote had been marred by fraud.
The emails referenced in the Post’s reporting have not been independently verified by MSNBC or NBC News.
That said, if the reporting is accurate, it significantly advances our understanding of just how far Thomas’ lobbying efforts went, and just how radical her prescribed course was.
Just to state what should be painfully obvious, Thomas’ claims about illegitimate vote totals were demonstrably ridiculous. The legislators whose arms she tried to twist were in a state President Biden narrowly won, according to counts, recounts, and audits.
What’s more, Thomas’ legal advice was every bit as bonkers. She pushed these state lawmakers to believe they had the 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 initial message came just two days after the presidential race was called for Biden, and that was followed by emails a month later, sent the day before members of the electoral college met.
And it was against this backdrop that Clarence Thomas heard arguments in election-related cases, even siding with Team Trump on matters related to disclosing important information to Congress.
More recently, the far-right jurist insisted that our system is threatened if Americans are unwilling to “live with outcomes we don’t agree with.”
He added soon after, “I wonder how long we’re going to have these institutions at the rate we’re undermining them.”
A quick follow-up questions for the justice: Does the United States’ system of elections count as an institution worth preserving? Does he still believe in an independent judiciary as an institution that the public can trust as impartial and apolitical arbiters?