Senate

McConnell, McCarthy defend Justice Thomas amid ethics scrutiny

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) are throwing their support behind Justice Clarence Thomas amid new scrutiny over his participation in Trump-related Supreme Court decisions.  

Thomas is facing calls to recuse himself from any Supreme Court cases involving the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack or the 2024 election, if former President Trump runs again. The calls come in the wake of new reports that his wife, Ginni Thomas, urged then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to make an aggressive effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election.  

But the two GOP leaders are standing by Thomas.   

“Justice Thomas is a great American and an outstanding Justice. I have total confidence in his brilliance and impartiality in every aspect of the work of the Court,” McConnell said in a statement. 

McCarthy, during a press conference at a House GOP retreat, said that he didn’t think Thomas should recuse himself from future Jan. 6-related cases.  

“No, I think Justice Thomas could make his decisions like he’s made them every other time. It’s his decision based upon law,” McCarthy said.  

The 29 text messages between Ginni Thomas and Meadows were part of the 2,320 text messages that Meadows handed over to the House committee investigating the attack on the Capitol. 

The new reports have also revived scrutiny over a January court ruling in which the Supreme Court blocked Trump’s bid to keep administration records from being handed to the Jan. 6 House committee. The decision was 8-1, with Thomas as the lone dissent. It’s unclear if Ginni Thomas’s messages would have been in the White House records that were disputed in court. 

Thomas also dissented in a February 2021 decision by the Supreme Court to turn away a challenge to Pennsylvania’s election results. Thomas wrote that the decision was “baffling” and “befuddling.”  

The new reports have sparked calls from Democrats from Thomas to recuse himself from cases they say could present a conflict of interest.  

“At the bare minimum, Justice Thomas needs to recuse himself from any case related to the January 6th investigation, and should Donald Trump run again, any case related to the 2024 election,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.)

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), a member of the Judiciary Committee, said that the Supreme Court needs a “code of ethics.”  

“No question that recusal by Justice Thomas is absolutely essential going forward in any case involving the January 6 committee’s investigation & the 2024 presidential election if Trump runs again,” he added in a string of tweets on Friday. 

Tags Capitol insurrection Clarence Thomas Donald Trump Ginni Thomas GOP leadership House Jan. 6 committee jan. 6 riot Kevin McCarthy Mark Meadows Mitch McConnell Ron Wyden Supreme Court

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