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Monday, December 09, 2019

Campaign 2020

Ginni Thomas

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2022 will be remembered as a year in which the U.S. Supreme Court’s reputation continued to deteriorate, from the wildly unpopular overturning of Roe v. Wade in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization to the revelation that Justice Clarence Thomas’ wife, Ginni Thomas, tried to help former President Donald Trump overturn the 2020 election results. The January 6 Select Committee discovered that after now-President Joe Biden won the election, Ginni Thomas urged then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to do everything he could to keep Biden from being inaugurated.

And in March 2022, her series of text exchanges with Meadows became public knowledge thanks to some bombshell reporting in the Washington Post by Robert Costa and Bob Woodward — the veteran journalist/author who is also famous for his bombshell reporting on Watergate with Post colleague Carl Bernstein during the 1970s.

Woodward, like Bernstein and former Watergate prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks, has said more than once that Nixon’s crimes during the 1970s pale in comparison to Trump’s scandals. And more than a few Trump critics have commented that the January 6, 2021 insurrection and the fact that a U.S. Supreme Court justice’s wife wanted presidential election results overturned was more disturbing than Watergate.

Ginni Thomas’ text exchanges with Meadows show her to be an aggressive promoter of the Big Lie, Trump’s claim that the 2020 election was stolen from him through widespread voter fraud. But according to Richard Hall, a reporter for The Independent, Thomas’ interview by the House Select Committee revealed that her knowledge “wasn’t very deep” when she bought into Trump’s Big Lie. The committee recently released its 845-page final report.

In an article published on December 30, Hall explains, “Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court judge Clarence Thomas, admitted that she was not aware of any specific evidence of voter fraud in the 2020 election at the time she personally lobbied senior White House officials to overturn the results. In an interview with the House committee investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol, a transcript of which was released on Friday, Ms. Thomas said that she ‘wasn’t very deep’ in her knowledge of specific voter fraud allegations at the time of her lobbying effort, but instead, ‘was basing what I believed off of people I trusted and news that I trusted.’”

That transcript, according to Hall, “provides new detail on how” Ginni Thomas “used her access” to “Donald Trump’s inner circle” to “influence the White House to reject the results of the presidential election.”

Text exchanges with Meadows that were obtained by the committee and reported by Woodward and Costa show the degree to which Ginni Thomas was all in for the Big Lie. In a November 10, 2020 text, for example, Justice Clarence Thomas’ wife told Meadows, “Help This Great President stand firm, Mark!!!...You are the leader, with him, who is standing for America’s constitutional governance at the precipice. The majority knows Biden and the Left is attempting the greatest Heist of our History.”

On September 29, 2022, Ginni Thomas was interviewed by Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, a committee member. Raskin tried to determine what motivated her belief in the Big Lie, and she told him, “I can’t say that I was familiar at the time with any specific evidence. I was just hearing it from news reports and friends on the ground, grassroots activists who were inside of various polling places that found things suspicious.”

Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming also questioned Ginni Thomas to confirm what she had told Raskin. And she replied, “Right. I know. I wasn’t very deep; I admit it.”

Ginni Thomas has maintained that she doesn’t discuss her work as an activist with Justice Thomas. But Hall reports that the committee asked her “about an exchange with Mr. Meadows in which she appears to suggest that she spoke with her husband, Justice Thomas, about the election.”

In one of her text exchanges with Meadows, she mentioned “a conversation with my best friend.”

Ginni Thomas told the committee, “It looks like it was my husband” but said she had “no memory of the specifics” and went on to say, “My husband often administers spousal support to the wife that's upset. So, I assume that that's what it was…. He had no idea that I was texting Mark Meadows about the election.”

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

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Ronna Romney McDaniel

Most Americans know by now that former President Donald Trump isn't a brilliant business executive, let alone a "stable genius" who earned billions. We have learned from various investigations, including the forced release of his tax returns, that he is a financial loser — and that his most conspicuous talent is for brazen grifting.

Now the House Select Committee, in a scathing appendix to its final report on the January 6 insurrection and coup attempt, has exposed the latest and perhaps most successful Trump grift. It's called "The Big Rip-off" because it depended on Trump's Big Lie about election fraud in 2020. Using hundreds of emails sent incessantly to its millions of supporters, the Trump campaign continued to raise enormous sums after the election ended by pretending that the Biden campaign had "stolen" its victory — and that with enough money that victory could be overturned.

Trump's principal co-conspirators in this bigtime scam were officials of the Republican National Committee, or RNC, which had a joint fundraising agreement that split proceeds with the campaign. From extensive interviews with top officials from both the RNC and the Trump campaign, the House investigators determined that the Republican leadership continued that deal long after it knew that the funds obtained were tainted by the Big Lie.

"The RNC knew that Trump's claims about winning the election were baseless and that post-election donations would not help him secure an additional term in office," the report explains. Yet both the RNC and the Trump campaign decided to continue fundraising after the election ended — "a decision that would have come from President Trump himself." The operations of that joint fundraising machine, known as Trump Make America Great Again Committee (or "T-Magic" to insiders) were overseen by the former president's son-in-law Jared Kushner and approved by Trump himself.

Their letters used incendiary language to damage public confidence in the electoral process, insisting that the election had been "stolen" and that the money would be used to "fight back" and "stop the steal." Sending out as many as 25 inflammatory emails every day, TMAGAC saw its most lucrative fundraising immediately after Election Day, hauling in as much as $100 million in the first three days, by claiming to establish a nonexistent "Official Election Defense Fund."

Eventually they raised more than $250 million.

They perpetrated that historic larceny, in the report's words, "by claiming to fight fraud they knew did not exist and to challenge an election they knew he lost." The RNC copywriters would "draft a lot of the content based on what the president was saying... a very aggressive, excitable tone... giving them 'red meat'... to make it seem as if the president himself was writing these letters and texts," according to the Select Committee's report.

This belligerently deceptive approach to monetizing the Big Lie began on Election Day 2020 when the campaign decided how to report election results to its supporters. As outlined by the Select Committee report, the campaign had three options: It could say that Trump had won, knowing that was false; it could say that the outcome remained uncertain which was then true; or it could claim, as it did, that "the Democrats are trying to steal the election" — a destructive accusation that the campaign decided to use even before Election Night results came in. As campaign officials later confessed to the Select Committee investigators, that claim was not based on any actual information received by TMAGAC staff or any attempt by them to determine its veracity.

RNC attorneys made a few feeble efforts to moderate that language in the TMAGAC donor messaging, to cover their own collective behind. But as the Select Committee notes, the RNC "was clearly aware that President Trump's claims regarding the election were not true and tried to have it both ways."

So, the RNC knew that Trump was lying to the American public every day and did virtually nothing to oppose that strategy. Its leaders, including RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel, chose only to "tinker around the edges" of that false messaging. RNC officials admitted that they had seen no evidence to support Trump's claim that he had won the election and were not aware of any evidence of voter fraud sufficient to change the election's outcome.

Despite its lawyers' concerns about repeating the most extreme and unsupportable claims of fraud, the RNC "stayed the course with a coordinated, single fundraising plan with the Trump campaign... and publicly stood shoulder-to-shoulder with President Trump and his Big Lie."

To this day, most of the money raised remains in the bank, but millions have been paid out to Trump himself, his political associates and his businesses.

Among many egregious examples of pilfering and looting, well over $100,000 was paid for "strategic consulting" to Melania Trump's fashion stylist. A million dollars went to a "conservative" nonprofit that employs former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows and participated in planning for Trump's Jan. 6 coup, and over $10 million went to an event-planning firm that helped to run the Jan. 6 rally on the Ellipse that preceded the Capitol riot. Additional millions were later spent on lawyers representing witnesses called to testify before the Select Committee.

There is no honor among thieves, so chair McDaniel is now being challenged for her position by an even more extreme MAGA politician. What this report shows in embarrassing detail is how they fleeced their own followers — who are, alas, mostly gullible enough to continue listening to them, at great cost to our country.

To find out more about Joe Conason and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

Reprinted with permission from Creators.