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    Friday, October 07, 2022

    Jan. 6 committee could 'contemplate a subpoena' for Ginni Thomas

    Virginia "Ginni" Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, arrives to watch Amy Coney Barrett take the Constitutional Oath on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, on Oct. 26, 2020. The House Jan. 6 committee said Sunday, July 24, 2022, it will interview more former Cabinet secretaries and is prepared to subpoena conservative activist Virginia “Ginni” Thomas as part of its investigation of the Capitol riot and Donald Trump's role. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

    WASHINGTON - The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection could subpoena Virginia "Ginni" Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, over her attempts to press the Trump White House to try to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., said Sunday.

    Cheney, the vice chairwoman of the select committee, said the bipartisan panel is engaged with Ginni Thomas's counsel. Officials have also spoken to other figures who were similarly urging those close to former President Donald Trump to pursue efforts to overturn the 2020 election results, she said.

    "We certainly hope that she will agree to come in voluntarily," Cheney said on CNN's "State of the Union." "But the committee is fully prepared to contemplate a subpoena if she does not. I hope it doesn't get to that."

    Ginni Thomas's text messages were among thousands of documents related to the Jan. 6 insurrection that former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows turned over to the House select committee investigating the attack before he abruptly stopped cooperating with the panel in December.

    In some comments, Ginni Thomas zealously appealed to Meadows to help overturn the 2020 election results. "Help This Great President stand firm, Mark," she wrote on Nov. 10, 2020. "The majority knows Biden and the Left is attempting the greatest Heist of our History."

    Her text messages to Meadows, revealed in the spring, prompted calls for her husband to recuse himself from Supreme Court cases related to the 2020 election. They also renewed a push from some Democrats for a code of ethics for the Supreme Court.

    Lawmakers have emphasized that their work will continue through the summer, even after a prime time hearing last Thursday capped off six weeks of televised testimony.

    "The floodgates have opened," Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va., said on NBC's "Meet the Press," noting that Thursday's prime time session was expected to be the final hearing when the committee initially planned its summer. "But so many more witnesses have come forward."

    Cheney said the committee has several interviews scheduled in the coming weeks, including with even more former members of Trump's Cabinet and of his campaign.

    Lawmakers remain focused on collecting information from the Secret Service, which the committee recently subpoenaed after reports the agency erased text messages from Jan. 5 and Jan. 6, 2021, after the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General had requested them.

    Among the revelations from Thursday's hearing was that members of Vice President Mike Pence's security detail began fearing for their lives as the Capitol attack unfolded, to the point where some called their families to say their goodbyes, according to witness testimony.

    Cheney said she has been particularly troubled by the developments involving the Secret Service, noting that she was protected by Secret Service agents for eight years when her father, Dick Cheney, served as vice president.

    "We will get to the bottom of it," Cheney said, adding that those who watch the hearing should recognize "the really serious and grave threat the vice president was under. And the agents who were protecting him certainly did a tremendous service that day."

    On "Fox News Sunday," Cheney said the committee expects testimony from Anthony Ornato, former White House operations deputy chief of staff, and Robert Engel, a Secret Service agent who was the head of Trump's security detail. Former Meadows aide Cassidy Hutchinson testified that Ornato told her Trump had lunged in anger at Engel while in the presidential limo on Jan. 6 after Trump was told he would not be taken to the Capitol.

    Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., said on ABC's "This Week" that he remained confident in Hutchinson's testimony and said the panel would "throw the doors wide open" to hear from those who allegedly dispute her testimony.

    "What we have is a very credible witness in Cassidy Hutchinson, talk about what she had heard," he said.

    "Cassidy Hutchinson will go down in history as a hero, and she never sought to," Kinzinger added. "She's just a young woman telling the truth with more courage than the vast majority of men in politics today."

    Committee members didn't mince words about what they view as Trump's dereliction of duty. But Cheney reiterated Sunday that the committee has not yet made a decision on whether to make criminal referrals of Trump to the Justice Department. Earlier this month, she said multiple criminal referrals of Trump were possible.

    "I sure as hell hope [the Justice Department] have a criminal investigation at this point into Donald Trump," Luria said. "I have no direct knowledge of the status of their investigations, but what I'd say is I can tell the Department of Justice is watching our hearings closely."

    Kinzinger said he believed there is evidence Trump committed crimes and hoped to see the former president prosecuted.

    He added that he worried about the precedent it would set if the Justice Department did not prosecute him even if it had enough evidence to do so - and had a pointed message for those who continue to believe Trump's baseless claims that the 2020 election was stolen.

    "Ladies and gentlemen, and particularly my Republican friends, your leaders by and large have been lying to you," he said. "They know stuff that's very different than what they're telling you. They know the election wasn't stolen, but they're going to send out fundraising requests, they're going to take your money from you, and they're going to use you to stay in power. You're being abused."

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    The Washington Post's Naomi Nix and Laura Reiley contributed to this report.