Senate

McConnell blasts ‘clumsy bullying’ amid Thomas scrutiny

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Wednesday doubled down on his defense of Justice Clarence Thomas, blasting “clumsy bullying from the political branches” over Thomas’s handling of cases related to the 2020 presidential election.

McConnell’s comments come after days of criticism in the wake of reports that Ginni Thomas, Clarence Thomas’s wife, urged then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to move aggressively to overturn the results of the 2020 election. 

McConnell dismissed calls for Thomas to recuse himself from cases related to the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot as an “inappropriate pressure campaign.” 

“It has no basis in Justice Thomas’s decades of impeccable service on the court. The justice and the entire court should feel free to completely ignore all this,” McConnell said.

McConnel added that Thomas “is a great American” and an “outstanding justice.” 

“This clumsy bullying from the political branches is really beyond the pale. Justice Thomas is an exemplary jurist who has modeled fidelity to the rule of law for more than 30 years and counting,” McConnell added.  

McConnell first defended Thomas late last week after The Washington Post and CBS News reported on Ginni Thomas’s outreach to Meadows.  

Since then, calls for Thomas to recuse himself from future cases related to the Capitol riot or the 2024 election, if former President Trump runs again, have only grown. Some House progressives have also raised the possibility of impeaching Thomas, while other Democrats have floated the possibility of a congressional investigation.  

Critics have raised concerns that Ginni Thomas’s political activity poses an ethically troubling overlap with her husband’s judicial position. But the new reporting on her outreach to Meadows has raised fresh ethics questions about Clarence Thomas’s handling of election-related cases.  

In January, the Supreme Court blocked Trump’s bid to keep administration records from being handed to House select committee investigating the events surrounding the Capitol riot. The decision was 8-1, with Clarence Thomas as the lone dissenter. It’s unclear if Ginni Thomas’s messages would have been in the White House records being disputed in court. 

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

House and Senate Democrats sent a letter to Thomas and Chief Justice John Roberts this week asking for Thomas to explain why he didn’t recuse himself from previous Jan. 6-related cases and to pledge to step back from future cases involving the Capitol attack or efforts to overturn the 2020 election. They also asked Roberts to commit to adopting a code of conduct for Supreme Court justices. 

Tags Clarence Thomas Donald Trump Ginni Thomas Mark Meadows Mitch McConnell SCOTUS Supreme Court
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