Fact Check: Was Clarence Thomas Lone Dissenter on Trump Jan. 6 Documents?

Among the astonishing details surrounding the House Select Committee investigation of the January 6 U.S. Capitol attacks are allegations that a Supreme Court Justice could have been influenced to prevent the release of documents requested by the investigators.

Justice Clarence Thomas is now facing calls to stand down over the scandal that appears to implicate his wife and a former Trump lawyer.

According to reports, Virginia "Ginni" Thomas allegedly communicated with lawyer John Eastman, who is accused of pressuring former Vice President Mike Pence to unlawfully refuse to certify the 2020 presidential election results.

Clarence Thomas Supreme Court Justice
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, pictured here in October 2021, is said to have voted against the release of documents to the January 6 House Select Committee investigating former president Donald Trump's role in the U.S. Capitol attacks. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The Claim

Tweets posted in June 2022 claimed that Clarence Thomas was the only dissenting voice in the Court who approved former president Donald Trump's demand to injunct documents requested for the House Select Committee.

Some of the most popular of these tweets have had more than 107,000 engagements.

The Facts

In 2021, Donald Trump asked the Supreme Court to block the turnover of documents to the January 6 House Select Committee, after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit said the documents were vital to investigators.

On January 19, 2022, the Supreme Court published its ruling showing only Justice Thomas had approved of the former president's request.

The ruling stated that: "The application for stay of mandate and injunction pending review presented to THE CHIEF JUSTICE and by him referred to the Court is denied." It later states "JUSTICE THOMAS would grant the application."

Although the Supreme Court ruling did not explicitly write the verdict as "8-1" (as it has been presented in the press), the ruling shows that Clarence Thomas was the only dissenting voice.

Other decisions of the Court have been summarized in the same manner before.

Justice Thomas' vote is of renewed interest after recent reports that his wife, Ginni Thomas, sent emails to Trump's campaign lawyer Eastman.

The emails were obtained by the January 6 panel investigating the U.S. Capitol attacks.

No further details have been released about the correspondence between Eastman and Thomas, although their reported existence is seen as significant in light of her husband's approval of the Trump injunction.

Eastman is alleged to have played a key part in trying to pressure Pence to not certify the 2020 election results in Congress on January 6, despite knowing such a tactic would be illegal.

The Trump lawyer was ordered in June 2022 to hand over emails containing evidence of a likely crime to the House Select Committee; Eastman had previously sought to prevent the committee from obtaining documents.

It was also reported in March 2022 that Ginni Thomas sent numerous messages to Trump's chief of staff Mark Meadows between the 2020 election and January 6, 2021, promoting disproven QAnon theories about widespread voter fraud.

One such belief was that Trump watermarked mail-in ballots prior to the election in order to find evidence of fraud.

"Watermarked ballots in over 12 states have been part of a huge Trump & military white hat sting operation in 12 key battleground states," Thomas wrote to Meadows in one message.

Furthermore, Ginni Thomas reportedly encouraged state legislators to seek an "audit" of the 2020 presidential vote, according to emails obtained by The Washington Post.

The Post claimed the subject line of one email read: "Please do your Constitutional duty!" elsewhere adding that legislators "have the power to fight back against fraud and ensure our elections are free, fair and honest."

Ginni Thomas is reported to have accepted a recent House Select Committee's request for testimony.

The matter could prove very damaging for Justice Thomas, with more than 230,000 people signing a petition to impeach him amid the controversy.

Newsweek has contacted Justice Thomas and his wife Ginni Thomas for comment.

The Ruling

Fact Check - True


Court rulings published in early 2022 show that Clarence Thomas was the only Supreme Court Justice who approved of former President Trump's demand to injunct documents requested by the House Select Committee investigating the U.S. Capitol attack of January 6.

FACT CHECK BY Newsweek's Fact Check team

True: The claim is verifiably correct. Primary source evidence proves the claim to be true.
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