Ginni Thomas reportedly testified for three and a half hours yesterday. Pleading the fifth to every question wouldn’t have taken nearly that long, so she must have given a number of substantive answers. Score one for the January 6th Committee for being savvy enough to pull off this unlikely feat.
“But she probably just lied the whole time.” Good! That would be a crime, whether she was under oath or not. If the 1/6 committee catches her in a lie, it can use it to pressure her to come back and be more forthcoming, or just refer her for criminal prosecution. And if she pleaded the fifth to any specific questions, that would just draw a roadmap telling the DOJ where to dig deeper.
The only way Ginni Thomas helped herself is if she managed to spend three and a half hours deftly answering questions about her involvement in the election overthrow plot without incriminating herself in the process, and without getting caught in a single lie. Most people wouldn’t be able to thread that kind of needle. She doesn’t come off as someone who would be capable of even coming close to pulling that off.
It’s also obvious that the 1/6 committee could not have gotten testimony out of Ginni Thomas by following the “subpoena her right now!!!” advice that was being peddled on Twitter. Pundits only tweet that stuff for outrage retweets, not because it would have any chance of success.
If she’d gotten spooked by a congressional subpoena, she could have tied it up in court indefinitely. That was never a viable path. Those on here who framed it as the 1/6 committee not having had the “courage” to subpoena Ginni Thomas are, frankly, idiots.
So how did the 1/6 committee goad Ginni Thomas into testifying? 90% of politics takes place behind the scenes. We don’t know what leverage they used, and we may or may not ever find out. Presumably they just kept digging until they found something that could be used to persuade her to testify.
Generally speaking, it usually comes down to convincing a hostile witness that things are looking so bad for them, they’re better off if they come in and defend themselves. Rarely is it actually better for them if they come in and defend themselves, so it’s a matter of making them so spun around that they panic and testify. These kinds of conversations would typically be private and possibly involve backchannels, and certainly wouldn’t be something that plays out in public. The sheer extent to which politics plays out behind closed doors, as opposed to in public view, doesn’t make for juicy headlines – but it’s how things tend to work.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report