A fact-checking guide to texts from Ginni Thomas to Trump’s chief of staff

Virginia Thomas, a conservative activist and wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, made a series of false and conspiratorial claims shortly after the 2020 election in text messages to Mark Meadows, the former president’s former chief of staff Donald Trump, imploring him to move on. an effort to overturn the election.

The Washington Post and CBS News first obtained copies of the text messages written by Thomas, whose name is Ginni, and reported on their contents on March 24 after confirming them with five anonymous people who had seen them. Major media outlets have since corroborated the texts; CNN said it reviewed the posts, and The New York Times, NBC News and ABC News confirmed their authenticity through other unnamed sources.

The January 6 House committee did not release the texts. Meadows’ attorney, George Terwilliger III, confirmed the existence of the messages to The Washington Post. Although PolitiFact has not seen the texts or heard back from Thomas or Terwilliger, we have no doubt that the messages are genuine.

The 29 messages between Thomas and Meadows were among more than 2,000 texts that Meadows gave to the committee as part of its fact-finding mission regarding the attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021. What stood out to us were several messages from Thomas that repeated coded language for conspiracy theories as she urged Meadows to reject the election results.

Thomas was affiliated with several conservative groups, including the Council for National Policy, which sought to keep Trump in power. She told the Washington Free Beacon in March that she attended the Jan. 6 rally that Trump held shortly before the attack on the Capitol, but left early.

Messages highlighted in early reports show Thomas rehashing false claims by Trump and his allies that the election was stolen or rigged. They also echoed QAnon, the sprawling and baseless conspiracy theory centered on the belief that a secret cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles, including many prominent Democrats and celebrities, operates a global sex trafficking ring that Trump was recruited to eliminate. The posts included references to “watermark votes,” “white hats,” the Guantanamo Bay courts, and other staples of QAnon lore.

Here’s our fact-checking guide for texts.

Thomas’ references to QAnon

What Thomas wrote:

“Watermarked ballots in more than 12 states were part of a huge Trump and military white hat sting operation in 12 key battleground states.”

Facts:

Thomas sent Meadows a link to a YouTube video on November 5, 2020, titled “TRUMP STING with CIA Director Steve Pieczenik, The Greatest Election Story in History, QFS-BLOCKCHAIN.” The video is no longer on YouTube.

Pieczenik, a former State Department official, is a far-right commentator who often appeared on Alex Jones’ InfoWars channel, and joined Jones in smearing the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. in Newtown, Connecticut, of “false flag”. .”

In the world of conspiracy theories, QFS stands for “Quantum Financial System”.

The imaginary QFS financial system is rooted in older conspiracy theories that a sweeping 1980s proposal to reform the US economy was secretly passed and kept secret by the government, but would one day come into effect, wrote the researcher Mike Rothschild in his book. about QAnon.

“The bottom line is that at some point all currencies will be ‘revalued’ to have the same exchange rate (possibly tied to gold or the dollar), taxes and debt will be wiped out, and anyone holding large amounts of low-value currency like the Iraqi dinar or Vietnamese dong will be instantly rich,” Rothschild told PolitiFact in an email. “This is absolute nonsense.”

PolitiFact found versions of what appears to be the same video on Rumble and Bitchute.

In it, Pieczenik used the term QFS to describe “an undercover operation” initiated by Trump in which each ballot was “watermarked” with a “QFS blockchain” encryption code and National Guard soldiers were deployed in 12 different states. Snopes assessed the video’s claims as false.

PolitiFact has debunked a viral Facebook post that was highlighted in the video, assessing the posts’ claim about “watermarked” Pants on Fire ballots. There was no evidence of such an elaborate conspiracy to catch any alleged cheating by Democrats. The federal government does not print or issue ballots.

The assertion of watermarked ballots was popular among QAnon adherents, with “watching the water” becoming a staple refrain on QAnon message boards. “White hats” is also used in QAnon lingo to refer to members of the military and government who were allied to their cause.

A man held a sign related to the QAnon conspiracy theory outside the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.

What Thomas wrote:

“Biden crime family and voter fraud co-conspirators (elected officials, bureaucrats, social media censorship mongers, bogus streaming media reporters, etc.) are being arrested and detained for voter fraud right now and in days to come, and will live in barges off GITMO before military tribunals for sedition.”

Facts:

Thomas’ claim that public figures from politics, government, technology and media were rounded up and shipped to Guantanamo Bay for military tribunals “is the essence of QAnon,” Rothschild said. Vice reported that Thomas’s text “quoted directly from a floating passage on the QAnon discussion forums.”

Many of the first posts from “Q,” the anonymous poster who claimed to be a military insider and whose writings on fringe internet forums inspired the movement, talked about the expansion of Gitmo and referenced mass arrests of Democrats. , celebrities and banking elites, said Rothschild.

Many QAnon followers have long believed that Trump’s efforts would culminate in a massive lifting of indictments dubbed “the storm.”

“Q” hasn’t posted since December 2020, but baseless internet rumors describing military arrests and Guantanamo Bay executions of top Democrats have lived on thanks to influencers and websites pushing QAnon theories, like Real Raw News.

Thomas’ False Election Claims

What Thomas wrote:

“The majority knows that Biden and the left are attempting the biggest heist in our history.”

Facts:

It’s wrong; there was no “breakage”.

Biden won the presidency by amassing the necessary Electoral College votes by toppling battleground states that went for Trump in 2016.

On November 7, 2020, The Associated Press reported that Biden won all 20 electoral votes from Pennsylvania, reaching the combined 270 electoral votes in multiple states to win the presidency.

A scheme to steal Biden’s election would have required election officials in thousands of cities and counties to coordinate massive fraud, risking felony charges and jail time. As of the date of Thomas’ text, Nov. 10, 2020, judges in several states had dismissed lawsuits filed on Trump’s behalf that challenged vote counting procedures.

What Thomas said:

“Looks like Sidney and his team are inundated with evidence of fraud. Make a plan. Free the Kraken and save us from the left that will destroy America.”

Facts:

Thomas was referring to attorney Sidney Powell, who falsely claimed Trump won the election in a landslide and regularly shared QAnon-related content, in this November 19, 2020 post.

Powell was part of the failed effort to sue in battleground states that Trump lost. In a series of discredited allegations that later sparked costly defamation lawsuits, she also accused voting tech companies of altering election results.

The phrase “unleash the Kraken” comes from the 1981 film “Clash of the Titans,” but Powell and others adopted the phrase after the 2020 election to refer to false allegations of voter fraud that she says would invalidate Biden’s election.

In a 2021 court filing defending her against one of the defamation lawsuits, Powell’s attorneys wrote that “no reasonable person” would conclude that her claims were statements of fact.

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Virginia C. Taylor