Newly revealed text messages show that Virginia “Ginni” Thomas — conservative activist and wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas — wanted President Trump to take extreme steps to remain in office in the days following the 2020 election. between her and then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows were provided to the Congressional Committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 attacks and obtained by journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa†
An important conclusion from them is that her alarm was apparently genuine: These appear to be Thomas’s true beliefs, expressed privately to Trump’s top aide, while no one was looking.
Thomas shared conspiracy theories with Meadows that Trump had a secret plan to expose voter fraud (“I hope this is true”) and send the perpetrators to Guantanamo Bay, urging Trump to “don’t give in” because “it takes time for the military to rally behind its back,” said the “left” “attempted the greatest heist in our history,” defended the ridiculous claims of Trump’s attorney Sidney Powell (“Sounds like Sidney and her team are being overrun with evidence of fraud”), complained that he was “disgusted” by Vice President Mike Pence for approving the results, declaring that Biden’s victory marked “the end of Liberty”.
Ginni Thomas is not a government official and has no formal power. But she is an influential and well-connected activist at the top of elite conservative circles who is, yes, married to a Supreme Court justice. And her posts show exactly where she falls in the two broad groups of elite conservatives who have supported Trump’s bid to undo the election results: She belongs to the conspiracy-ridden true believers, rather than the cynical opportunists who give in to the grassroots. for political advantage.
Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO), on the other hand, seems to fall more into the opportunist category. Rather than endorsing outright goofy conspiracy theories, Hawley has nodded to a vaguer “concern” about the integrity of the election and calls for “investigation.” To be specific justification to object to the results in Congress, relied on a legal-sounding reason: “Some states, especially Pennsylvania, have not followed their own state election laws.” (This was a complaint that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court agreed to count ballots that came in a few days after Election Day, but that turned out to be a small number of ballots that didn’t affect the outcome.) Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX ) voted a similar line†
In the other camp, along with Thomas, you have the likes of Sidney Powell, former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn, and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, who embraced bizarre theories of foreign vote interference and pushed Trump to use increasingly extreme tactics in combat. . back.
The presence of both sides in the GOP is a problem for election integrity in the United States, but the latter is arguably the bigger problem. Cynical opportunists go whichever way the wind blows. But if true conspiracy theorists are elected to key positions with some role in certifying the election results, they can stick to their beliefs regardless of the situation.
There has long been speculation as to which camp the former president falls into. Did Trump just lie? Or does he really believe his claims that he was the rightful winner of the 2020 election? Or is that question irrelevant?
According to all accounts of Trump’s private behavior, he pretends to believe it all the time. No close associate has told the press or disclosed any story admitting that many of his claims were false. Texts provided to the committee by Fox host Sean Hannity indicate that Hannity was quite concerned by how committed Trump was private to an extreme course. “I haven’t had a good chat with him today. And worse, I’m not sure what else to do or say, and I don’t like not knowing if it’s really being understood,” he said. wrote to Meadows on January 10, 2021.
This is a potential problem regarding investigative efforts to prove Trump’s intent to commit crimes related to Jan. 6 — if he thinks he’s the rightful winner, it could be trickier (though not necessarily impossible) to contend with. show that he acted with corrupt intent. But it’s also worrying about how closely Trump was tied to actual reality. And with Trump gearing up for a possible rerun of the presidential campaign in 2024, this isn’t necessarily a problem of the past. If he wins, who will he staff his administration with next time?