january 6

Yes, Ginni Thomas Was at the January 6 Rally … But She Left Early

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Attorney Ginni Thomas is a longtime conservative activist whose work has attracted media scrutiny for the past three decades, mostly because her husband happens to be Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Though the couple has unconvincingly explained that they keep their professional lives totally separate, people keep suggesting there might be something untoward about a Supreme Court justice ruling on cases and issues advanced by right-wing groups that include his wife in leadership roles.

Now the controversy has gotten so bad that Ginni Thomas felt compelled to clarify a few things in an interview with the Washington Free Beacon. Chief among them: Did she attend the Stop the Steal rally on January 6, 2021, that turned into the attack on the Capitol? Okay, fine: Yes, she did. But she cut out early! And that’s certainly no reason to be concerned about her husband ruling on cases related to the Capitol riot or election integrity. Per the Free Beacon:

She did not help organize the White House rally that preceded the riot at the Capitol. She did attend the rally, but got cold and left early. And most importantly, in her view, her involvement with the event has no bearing on the work of her husband, Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas.

Thomas was responding to recent reports in The New Yorker and The New York Times Magazine that she had some behind-the-scenes involvement in organizing the Stop the Steal rally. As The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer noted in her profile of the Thomases, many Americans became aware of the ethical questions surrounding their relationship only when Ginni posted a message on Facebook on January 6, 2021, celebrating protesters’ effort to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s election win:

In a Facebook post that went viral, she linked to a news item about the protest, writing, “LOVE MAGA people!!!!” Shortly afterward, she posted about Ronald Reagan’s famous “A Time for Choosing” speech. Her next status update said, “GOD BLESS EACH OF YOU STANDING UP OR PRAYING.” Two days after the insurrection, she added a disclaimer to her feed, noting that she’d written the posts “before violence in US Capitol.” (The posts are no longer public.)

Though the couple had many connections to the rally organizers and to Trump advisers plotting other efforts to keep the president in power, it was initially unclear if they had any direct involvement in the events of January 6 (aside from Trump declaring he’d be “going to the U.S. Supreme Court” when he prematurely declared victory on Election Night. And his team launching a multifaceted plot to have the conservative justices help him steal the election. And Clarence Thomas being the lone justice to note his dissent when the Court thwarted Trump’s effort to undermine the House’s January 6 investigation).

Last month, the Times Magazine dropped its own lengthy piece on the couple. It reported that Ginni helped organize the January 6 event, mediating disputes between rally organizers:

But her role went deeper, and beyond C.N.P. Action [a dark-money wing of the conservative group the Council for National Policy]. Dustin Stockton, an organizer who worked with Women for America First, which held the permit for the Ellipse rally, said he was told that Ginni Thomas played a peacemaking role between feuding factions of rally organizers “so that there wouldn’t be any division around January 6.”

“The way it was presented to me was that Ginni was uniting these different factions around a singular mission on January 6,” said Stockton, who previously worked for Bannon. “That Ginni was involved made sense — she’s pretty neutral, and she doesn’t have a lot of enemies in the movement.”

The Free Beacon piece dismisses Stockton’s assertion as “second-hand information.” Thomas and two leaders of these factions named in the Times piece told the Free Beacon she was not involved in organizing the rally.

“I played no role with those who were planning and leading the January 6 events,” Thomas said. “There are stories in the press suggesting I paid or arranged for buses. I did not. There are other stories saying I mediated feuding factions of leaders for that day. I did not.”

Neither The New Yorker nor the Times Magazine claimed Thomas was at the Stop the Steal rally herself, so it’s unclear why she volunteered this information (some have speculated that she’s trying to get ahead of future reporting). It’s also not clear why she decided to split early as the conservative-friendly outlet did not quote her directly on her rally experience. We only learn she was “disappointed and frustrated that there was violence that happened following a peaceful gathering of Trump supporters on the Ellipse on January 6.”

But I guess there’s not much more to say about what Thomas did at the Stop the Steal rally. It was cold, and the Supreme Court justice’s wife did not personally smash anything at the U.S. Capitol.

Anyway, maybe we should stop worrying about the Thomases’ alleged conflicts of interest and focus instead on the things that are actually undermining our democratic institutions — like, as Clarence Thomas noted Friday at a $150-per-person speech in Salt Lake City, the threat posed by Democrats musing about expanding the Supreme Court someday.

“You can cavalierly talk about packing the court. You can cavalierly talk about doing this and doing that. At some point, the institutions are going to be compromised,” Thomas said.

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Ginni Thomas Was at the January 6 Rally … But She Left Early