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Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court justice, testifies before Jan. 6 panel

Ginni Thomas leaves for a break during a closed-door meeting with House panel investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
Anna Moneymaker
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Ginni Thomas leaves for a break during a closed-door meeting with House panel investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

Updated September 29, 2022 at 6:04 PM ET

Ginni Thomas, a longtime GOP activist who is also the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, testified for several hours on Thursday behind closed doors before the House Select Jan. 6 committee.

Her lawyer later released a statement that she answered all the panel's questions during her closed-door testimony. She left the session more than four hours after her appearance began, and declined to comment to reporters.

Thomas' communications about vote fraud claims

The committee first asked to interview Thomas about her communications with those pushing a plan to reject the results of the 2020 election, including former President Donald Trump's chief of staff Mark Meadows and a key figure in the campaign, John Eastman. Eastman, a conservative attorney, drafted a memo outlining a plan to reject the electoral votes in several states, and was an outside legal advisor to President Donald Trump in late 2020.

The statement by Thomas' lawyer Mark Paoletta says she "had significant concerns about fraud and irregularities" in the election and she wanted to ensure that they were investigated.

"Beyond that, she played no role in any events after the 2020 election results," the statement says. "She abhors violence on any side of the aisle. "

As Thomas testified Thursday morning, California Democratic Rep. Pete Aguilar told reporters he wouldn't comment on her responses during her voluntary appearance. However, he said that as with other witnesses, the panel will later share information that is relevant with the public.

"I'll say broadly that the committee has been very clear that we'd like to hear from Ginni Thomas, her discussions and coordination to Mark Meadows and specifically to John Eastman," he said.

Thomas' texts drew the panel's attention

Thomas has acknowledged she attended a Trump rally the morning of Jan. 6 at the Ellipse, but criticized the violence at the Capitol that followed the rally. In the weeks leading up to the attack on the Capitol Thomas reached out to Meadows, in text messages raising concerns about voter fraud. Legal challenges in several states alleging fraud in the 2020 election were all rejected by courts.

White House attorneys and counsels for then-Vice President Mike Pence pushed back against Eastman and other Trump allies' efforts to have Congress overturn the election results, saying it violated the Constitution and would be soundly rejected by the Supreme Court if the matter was ever argued there. The court refused to hear election challenges by Trump and his allies and Justice Thomas dissented, saying the justices should have heard the case. Some critics argued he should have recused himself from cases surrounding the election due to his wife's political advocacy.

After the publication of her communications with Meadows, Thomas said she was willing to appear, and months of negotiations followed.

The Jan. 6 committee was scheduled to hold its ninth and likely final investigative hearing this week, but postponed the public session due to Hurricane Ian. Chairman Bennie Thompson said he planned to announce a new date soon.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Deirdre Walsh is the congress editor for NPR's Washington Desk.
Claudia Grisales is a congressional reporter assigned to NPR's Washington Desk.