U.S. top court's Thomas should recuse himself from Capitol riot cases, Schumer says


WASHINGTON, March 29 (Reuters) - U.S. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer on Tuesday said Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas should recuse himself from any cases about the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol by Donald Trump's followers.

Schumer became the most high-ranking Democrat to make that request of the conservative justice after the Washington Post and CBS News reported on text messages showing that Thomas's wife Virginia Thomas, a conservative activist who goes by Ginni, urged Mark Meadows, Trump's then-chief of staff, to work to overturn Democrat Joe Biden's November 2020 election win.

"I do think he should recuse himself," Schumer said of Thomas. "The information we have right now raises serious questions about how close Justice Thomas and his wife were to the planning and execution of the insurrection."

Thousands of supporters of then-President Trump stormed the Capitol in an attempt to stop Congress from certifying the election, which Trump in a speech that morning falsely claimed was the result of widespread fraud.

The House of Representatives Select Committee on Jan. 6 may seek to interview Ginni Thomas, a source familiar with the matter said on Monday. read more

Neither Thomas could be reached for immediate comment on Tuesday.

Ginni Thomas has previously denied any conflict of interest between her work as a conservative activist and her husband's as a judge.

Clarence Thomas was the lone dissenting voice in January when the Supreme Court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority, rejected Trump's request to block the release of White House records sought by the committee. read more

On Monday, 24 Democrats from both the Senate and the House of Representatives sent a letter to John Roberts, chief justice of the United States, asking that Thomas recuse himself.

The committee has made more than 80 subpoenas public, including many issued to top Trump aides and allies, and interviewed more than 560 witnesses. The texts were given to the committee as part of Meadows' testimony.

Reporting by Moira Warburton, additional reporting by Lawrence Hurley and Rami Ayyub; Editing by Scott Malone and Grant McCool

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