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Jan. 6 panel will weigh subpoenaing Ginni Thomas if needed, Cheney says

Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., pledged that the committee would also "get to the bottom" of the erased Secret Service text messages from Jan. 5 and 6, 2021.
Virginia Thomas
Virginia "Ginni" Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, moderates a panel discussion titled "When Did World War III Begin? Part A: Threats at Home" at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md., on Feb. 23, 2017.Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images file

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riots will weigh subpoenaing Virginia "Ginni" Thomas if she does not agree to a voluntary interview with the committee, Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo, said Sunday.

Speaking on CNN's "State of the Union," Cheney, vice chair of the panel, said the committee remained "engaged" with Thomas' lawyer and hopes "she will agree to come in voluntarily.

"But the committee is fully prepared to contemplate a subpoena if she does not," Cheney told host Jake Tapper. "I hope it doesn't get to that. I hope she will come in voluntarily. We've certainly spoken with numbers of people who are similarly situated in terms of the discussions that she was having that you've mentioned."

After the committee signaled it would ask her to testify, Thomas told The Daily Caller last month that she “can’t wait to clear up misconceptions” and was looking “forward to talking to” the committee. But within weeks, her attorney, Mark Paoletta, pushed back against the committee's request and asked lawmakers to provide a "better justification."

Thomas, the wife of conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, has come under scrutiny for her messages to former President Donald Trump's chief of staff Mark Meadows and state lawmakers following the 2020 election in which she questioned the results.

She also pressed 29 Republican Arizona state lawmakers in emails to help overturn Trump's loss, The Washington Post reported last month.

Thomas wrote "ballot fraud co-conspirators’" were "being arrested & detained for ballot fraud right now & over coming days, & will be living in barges off GITMO to face military tribunals for sedition," according to the Post and other outlets. NBC News has not independently verified the text messages in which she also wrote: "Watermarked ballots in over 12 states have been part of a huge Trump & military white hat sting operation in 12 key battleground states."

Cheney also vowed the committee would “get to the bottom” of the erased Secret Service text messages from Jan. 5 and 6, 2021, that are now the subject of a criminal investigation.

Last week, the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General launched a criminal investigation into the circumstances surrounding the destruction of those text messages, which may have been relevant to inquiries about the riot, two sources familiar with the matter told NBC News. Those sources said the results of the probe could be referred to federal prosecutors. 

On the missing text messages, Cheney said what the committee has “become aware of over the course of the last several weeks is deeply troubling.”

The committee, which said it would hold more hearings in September, has “got to be able to get the information that we need about Jan. 6,” she said.

Asked on "State of the Union" if her work with the committee would have been worth it were she to lose her primary election next month, Cheney said, "no question." Cheney faces a tough re-election bid, with Trump-backed challenger Harriet Hageman leading Cheney by as many as 22 points, according to one poll of the Wyoming primary electorate.

"I am working hard here in Wyoming to earn every vote, but I will also say this: I’m not going to lie, I’m not going to say things that aren’t true about the election," added Cheney. "My opponents are doing that. ... Simply for the purpose of getting elected."