WASHINGTON — Virginia Thomas, the wife of Justice Clarence Thomas and a conservative activist who pushed to overturn the 2020 election, told the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol that she never discussed those efforts with her husband, during a closed-door interview in which she continued to perpetuate the false claim that the election was stolen.
Leaving the interview, which took place at an office building near the Capitol and lasted about four hours, she smiled in response to reporters’ questions but declined to answer any publicly.
She did, however, answer questions behind closed doors, said Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss. and the chair of the committee, who added that her testimony could be included in an upcoming hearing.
“If there’s something of merit, it will be,” he said.
During her interview, Thomas, who goes by Ginni, repeated her assertion that the 2020 election was stolen from former President Donald Trump, Thompson said, a belief she insisted upon in late 2020 as she pressured state legislators and the White House chief of staff to do more to try to invalidate the results.
In a statement she read at the beginning of her testimony, Thomas denied having discussed her postelection activities with her husband.
In her statement, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times, Thomas called it “an ironclad rule” that she and her husband never speak about cases pending before the Supreme Court. “It is laughable for anyone who knows my husband to think I could influence his jurisprudence — the man is independent and stubborn, with strong character traits of independence and integrity,” she added.
The interview ended months of negotiations between the committee and Thomas over her testimony. The committee’s investigators had grown particularly interested in her communications with John Eastman, the conservative lawyer who was in close contact with Trump and wrote a memo that Democrats and anti-Trump Republicans have likened to a blueprint for a coup.
“At this point, we’re glad she came,” Thompson said.
After Thomas’ appearance Thursday, her lawyer Mark Paoletta said she had been “happy to cooperate with the committee to clear up the misconceptions about her activities surrounding the 2020 elections.”
“She answered all the committee’s questions,” Paoletta said in a statement. “As she has said from the outset, Mrs. Thomas had significant concerns about fraud and irregularities in the 2020 election. And, as she told the committee, her minimal and mainstream activity focused on ensuring that reports of fraud and irregularities were investigated. Beyond that, she played no role in any events after the 2020 election results. As she wrote in a text to Mark Meadows at the time, she also condemned the violence on Jan. 6, as she abhors violence on any side of the aisle.”
A spokesperson for the committee declined to comment.
Thomas exchanged text messages with Meadows, the White House chief of staff, in which she urged him to challenge Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election, which she called a “heist,” and indicated that she had reached out to Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, about Trump’s efforts to use the courts to keep himself in power. She even suggested the lawyer who should be put in charge of that effort.
Thomas also pressed lawmakers in several states to fight the results of the election.
But it was Thomas’ interactions with Eastman, a conservative lawyer who pushed Vice President Mike Pence to block or delay the certification of Electoral College votes on Jan. 6, 2021, that have most interested investigators.
“She’s a witness,” Thompson said Thursday. “We didn’t accuse her of anything.”
The panel obtained at least one email between Thomas and Eastman after a federal judge ordered Eastman to turn over documents to the panel from the period after the November 2020 election when he was meeting with conservative groups to discuss fighting the election results.
That same judge has said it is “more likely than not” that Trump and Eastman committed two felonies as part of the effort, including conspiracy to defraud the American people.
Paoletta has argued that the communications between Thomas and Eastman contain little of value to the panel’s investigation.
Thomas’ cooperation comes as the Jan. 6 committee is entering its final months of work after a summer of high-profile hearings and preparing an extensive report, which is expected to include recommendations for how to confront the threats to democracy highlighted by the riot and Trump’s drive to overturn the election.
The interview came just days after the panel abruptly postponed a hearing scheduled for Wednesday, citing the hurricane bearing down on Florida. The hearing has yet to be rescheduled.
Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md. and a member of the committee, said Thomas’ interview showed that “people continue to cooperate with the committee and understand the importance of our investigation.”
The panel has interviewed more than 1,000 witnesses and has received hundreds of thousands of documents and more than 10,000 submissions to its tip line since June.
“There’s a lot more information coming in all the time,” Raskin said.
He said the committee members have viewed thousands of hours’ worth of video images and tape but want to be “disciplined” about how they present them in the next hearing.
“There are certain people who are going to denounce whatever we do, no matter what,” he said. “We just want to be able to complete the narrative and then deliver our recommendations about what needs to be done in order to insulate American democracy against coups, insurrection, political violence and electoral sabotage in the future.”