Next for Jan. 6 Committee: Does Ginni Thomas have proof of insurrection scheme?

Written by Amy Ta, produced by Nihar Patel

July 21, 2022: A video clip of rioters heading to the Capitol is played during a public hearing before the House Select Committee to investigate the January 6 attack. Photo by Jack Gruber-USA TODAY via Reuters.

Wednesday was supposed to be the next hearing of the U.S. House Select Committee investigating the U.S. Capitol insurrection. It got postponed due to Hurricane Ian threatening the Florida coast. 

Burbank Congressman Adam Schiff has expressed frustration about the speed of the Justice Department’s investigation. He told CNN over the weekend, “I hope it’s not too little, too late. But it has been very slow, in my view, in coming. We’re now more than a year and half after the events of January 6th. And still there seems to be, at least from what we can gather in the public record, areas that the Justice Department hasn’t fully investigated.”

The next hearing might not have a specific focus like past ones, and instead touch on multiple aspects of the probe. Lawmakers might also be forward-looking and discuss ongoing threats to democracy. That’s all according to  Luke Broadwater, who reports on Congress for the New York Times. 

He says lawmakers have received radio transmissions from the Secret Service on January 6, plus Microsoft Teams messages. But they don’t have text messages from January 5 and 6 that were lost during a phone upgrade at the agency. 

“If you talk to the Secret Service, they say the phone upgrade had been planned some time before January 6, and they started transferring the data over sometime after. Now obviously, this was a huge bureaucratic failure, because anybody with common sense would have said, ‘Let's preserve all the records from a very historic day in American history.’ … Apparently that wasn't done. And in the upgrade, some data has gone missing.”

Broadwater continues, “Some people are very suspicious of them, they think things might have been deleted on purpose or with malevolent intent. I have not seen evidence of that yet. It seems to me, so far from what we can tell, that this was more incompetence than corruption.”

Also former committee investigator Denver Riggleman confirmed to “60 Minutes” this past Sunday that someone in the White House called one of the rioters when the insurrection was unfolding. He said, “I only know one end of that call. I don’t know the White House end, which I believe is more important. The thing is the American people need to know there are link connections that need to be explored more.”

Broadwater says that call — to a 26-year-old man from New York — lasted nine seconds. “The rioter himself says he doesn't remember getting the call or who it was, and says he doesn't know anybody in the White House. And so the whole thing is very suspicious, and it definitely deserves more investigation.”

Meanwhile, Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, has agreed to speak to the committee. This is a breakthrough, says Broadwater. 

“Ginni Thomas was somebody who was encouraging the efforts to overturn the election. … She was in contact with John Eastman, the conservative lawyer who many people see as … the legal architect of the plans to try to overturn the election. So they think she has evidence about this whole scheme. And the thing they're most interested in is her conversations with John Eastman, because they believe that John Eastman likely committed crimes in what he did in relation to January 6 … that he actually committed a conspiracy against the United States.”

Other people have been subpoenaed but aren’t showing up, including Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and other members of Congress. 

“The committee has taken no steps to enforce those subpoenas. I think there's some internal concern about precedent — and members of Congress taking actions that could lead to other members of Congress facing jail time. … Congress is a place that's built on old traditions and the sense of collegiality between the parties. And they have to call each other ‘sir’ and ‘ma'am.’ … They're not supposed to insult each other. And so the idea that you would move to potentially put somebody in jail from the other party, I think rubs some people the wrong way.”

He adds, “At the same time, the idea that you would flat-out refuse to cooperate with a subpoena probably rubs people the wrong way. So I think it is a touchy situation for the committee.”