By Ariane de Vogue and Zachary Cohen, CNN
A lawyer for Virginia “Ginni” Thomas said in a letter to the January 6, 2021, House select committee on Tuesday that he “does not believe there is currently a sufficient basis to speak with” the conservative activist.
“I am asking the Committee to provide a better justification for why Mrs. Thomas’s testimony is relevant to the Committee’s legislative purpose,” attorney Mark Paoletta wrote in a letter obtained by CNN.
The lawyer’s response follows a June 16 letter from the committee asking Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, to meet with the panel in July and provide documents that could be relevant to the investigation.
The committee has email correspondence between Ginni Thomas and former President Donald Trump’s election attorney John Eastman, as well as texts between her and Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. The texts show Thomas urging Meadows to continue the fight to overturn the 2020 presidential election results.
Paoletta said his client is “willing to appear” and “eager to clear her name,” but that without more information from the committee, he feared that she had been asked to come in “to continue the baseless harassment she has been subjected to since January 6.”
“There is no story to uncover here,” he said in the letter.
He reiterated what Thomas had said in a previous news interview that she had attended the rally that preceded the attack on the US Capitol on January 6 “but left well before the President began to speak, and well before any individuals began marching on the Capitol.”
“She held no official or unofficial role in the White House, nor in President Trump’s reelection campaign,” the attorney wrote.
Paoletta noted that this had been a “particularly stressful time” as the Thomases have been “subjected to an avalanche of death threats and other abuse by the unprecedented assault on the conservative Supreme Court Justices and their families.” Paoletta penned the letter four days after the Supreme Court, with Clarence Thomas in the majority, had struck down the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion ruling.
Paoletta also called it a “distorted narrative” and “blatantly false” that Ginni Thomas had pursued “unrelenting efforts to overturn” the presidential election.
In the letter to Thomas, the committee members noted that they had obtained information related to Eastman and others and said they believed Thomas may have further information concerning Eastman’s plans and activities in regard to the 2020 election.
Thomas has appeared open to speaking with the committee, telling the conservative outlet The Daily Caller earlier this month that she “can’t wait to clear up misconceptions.”
But in the letter, Paoletta questioned what he said appeared to be “some animus” exhibited by committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat, toward Clarence Thomas.
Referring to comments Thompson had made in 2014, Paoletta noted the chairman had called the Supreme Court justice an “Uncle Tom” for views that he holds. Thompson defended his comment at the time.
“These statements by the Committee’s Chairman certainly raise alarm bells when the Committee says that it wants to speak with Mrs. Thomas,” Paoletta wrote, saying he had “larger concerns” about whether the committee will be fair to her.
The panel has weighed whether to seek testimony from Ginni Thomas for months. After CNN first reported the existence of her texts with Meadows, the panel said it wanted to speak with her but only recently has it revealed that it formally requested that she appear. The panel has not mentioned Thomas so far in its public hearings.
“Mrs. Thomas was not, and is not, familiar with Mr. Eastman’s specific litigation efforts,” Paoletta said, downplaying his client’s communications with Eastman.
“Not a single document shows any coordination between Mrs. Thomas and Mr. Eastman. And further, all of these emails were exchanged on or before December 9, before the electors met and were certified by each of their states.”
As for texts with Meadows, Paoletta said, his client was speaking out as a “private citizen.”
“But none of it was unethical, much less illegal, and none of it suggests that Mrs. Thomas had even the slightest role in the January 6th attack on the Capitol, or even has any information about the attack,” he said.
This story has been updated with additional details Tuesday.
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