When Ronald Reagan was president during the 1980s, part of his big-tent view of conservatism was what he called “the 11th Commandment” — which was “never speak ill of any fellow Republican.” But Donald Trump, as president, had a totally different approach: insult, belittle, bully and threaten any Republican who dared to disagree with him about anything. And according to Daily Beast reporters Asawin Suebsaeng and Adam Rawnsley, one of Trump’s worst enablers during his four years in the White House was far-right GOP activist and conspiracy theorist Ginni Thomas — who is married to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
In contrast to Reagan’s view that there was room for a variety of Republicans in his 1980s coalition — from Goldwater Republicans to Rockefeller Republicans, from secular libertarians to theocratic Christian fundamentalists — Trump demanded unquestioning loyalty from fellow Republicans. Ginni Thomas, Suebsaeng and Rawnsley emphasize in an article published by the Beast on April 1, encouraged that type of behavior and offered lists of people she recommended hiring or firing.
The Beast reporters explain, “Years before she became one of then-President Donald Trump’s most prominent coup supporters, Ginni Thomas was already notorious in his West Wing for, among other things, ruining staffers’ afternoons by working Trump into fits of vengeful rage…. Ever since she became a welcome guest at Trump’s residences, Thomas — an influential and long-time conservative activist, and wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas — had perfected a proven formula of enthralling and manipulating the president’s emotions and mood.”
Suebsaeng and Rawnsley continue, “On multiple occasions throughout the Trump era, Thomas would show up in the White House, sometimes for a private meeting or a luncheon with the president. She often came armed with written memos of who she and her allies believed Trump should hire for plum jobs — and who she thought Trump should promptly purge — that she distributed to Trump and other high-ranking government officials. The fire lists were particularly problematic, as they were frequently based on pure conjecture, rumor, or score-settling, where even steadfastly MAGA aides were targeted for being part of the ‘Deep State’ or some other supposedly anti-Trump coalition, according to people who saw them during the Trump Administration.”
During his years in the White House, Trump fired a long list of right-wing Republicans who he decided weren’t MAGA enough — from former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to former Attorney General Jeff Sessions to former National Security Adviser John Bolton. And eventually, he even turned against former Vice President Mike Pence and former Attorney General William Barr when they refused to go along with his efforts to steal the 2020 presidential election. Ginni Thomas, according to the Washington Post and CBS News, aggressively promoted the Big Lie, urging former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to pursue efforts to overturn the 2020 election results.
One of the reasons Trump was a failure as president was the fact that he wanted to be surrounded by yes-men, and according to the Beast’s article, Ginni Thomas did everything she could to encourage him.
A former senior Trump Administration official, presumably interviewed on condition of anonymity, told the Beast, “We all knew that within minutes after Ginni left her meeting with the president, he would start yelling about firing people for being disloyal. When Ginni Thomas showed up, you knew your day was wrecked.”
Trump wasn’t shy about hiring extremists if he thought they would be loyalists, and Thomas had plenty of recommendations. According to Suebsaeng and Rawnsley, her recommendations included “Fox News personality Dan Bongino, and the Trump-adulating Sheriff David Clarke” as well as Frank Gaffney — the former Pentagon official and conspiracy theorist who “accused conservative anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist of being a secret agent for the Muslim Brotherhood.”
A former Trump White House official told the Beast, “These fucking lists were so insane and unworkable. A lot of them were dripping with paranoia and read like they were written by a disturbed person.”
The Beast also interviewed former White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham, who recalled, “Trump loved talking to Ginni so much because he loved hearing about who was a Never Trumper, or allegedly one. He loved people who would flatter him, (as Ginni would do). But also, his obsession with loyalty aside, he just loved to gossip — all the time. That’s something else he got out of his series of meetings at the White House with Ginni Thomas.”
Reprinted with permission from Alternet