House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Tuesday that it’s ultimately Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ decision on whether to recuse himself from cases relating to the 2020 presidential election and the Jan. 6 insurrection after last week’s bombshell report about his wife’s efforts to overturn the results of the election.
“It’s up to an individual justice to decide to recuse himself if his wife is participating in a coup,” Pelosi said in fiery remarks during a private House Democratic Caucus meeting, according to a source familiar with the meeting. Her comments were first reported by Punchbowl News.
The House speaker was responding to a question from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) about what Democrats can do to hold Thomas accountable after recent revelations that his wife, Ginni Thomas, sent nearly two dozen text messages between November 2020 and January 2021 urging former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to aggressively move to overturn the election.
Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.), a member of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection, first responded to Ocasio-Cortez’s question on behalf of the committee. Pelosi chimed in after him, reminding Democrats that Supreme Court justices are largely responsible for holding themselves accountable and aren’t even subject to the same disclosure rules as members of Congress.
Ocasio-Cortez later became the fifth member of Congress to call on Thomas to resign.
Pelosi’s comments came just after Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) led 22 Democrats on a letter to Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, along with Thomas, demanding answers about Thomas’ potential violation of federal ethics law and why he hasn’t already recused himself from decisions relating to the 2020 presidential election.
Thomas was the only dissenting vote in a Supreme Court case requiring that Trump White House records be turned over to the Jan. 6 House committee earlier this year.
“Justice Thomas has neither disclosed the extent of his knowledge about Ms. Thomas’s activities nor recused himself from multiple Court cases involving the 2020 election and the attempted insurrection that followed,” said the lawmakers. “In fact, Justice Thomas was the sole dissenting Justice who would have blocked the January 6th Committee’s access to presidential records involving the Trump Administration’s efforts to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power — records that could very well contain communications between Ms. Thomas and top White House officials given what we now know.”
Beyond that, the lawmakers note that between 2003 and 2007, Thomas failed to disclose $686,589 in his wife’s income from her work at the conservative Heritage Foundation, which is in violation of the Ethics in Government Act.
“Chief Justice Roberts has often spoken about the importance of the Supreme Court’s ‘credibility and legitimacy as an institution,’” the lawmakers added. “That trust, already at all-time lows with the American public, must be earned.”