Supreme Court justices generally refrain from commenting on ongoing political events, but those close to them don't always practice such discretion. Recently, President Donald Trump met with Clarence Thomas' wife, Ginni Thomas, who brought along a group of various hard-right activists, according to a report by The New York Times.
The Times report, which relied on three unnamed sources, suggested that Trump wasn't incredibly participatory. Instead, he reportedly sat and listened while a group of conservative figures supposedly condemned transgender people and argued that women should not be allowed to serve in the military. Bustle has reached out to the White House for comment.
Thomas, for her part, is known to be an outspoken Trump supporter, as well as for sharing hard right posts on Facebook, some of which veer into conspiracy theory territory. Bustle has reached out to Thomas for comment.
The meeting between Trump and Thomas was planned after she and her husband had dinner with Trump and his wife, Melania, according to the sources who spoke with the Times. For unclear reasons, though, the meeting was then reportedly delayed for months.
Besides Thomas and Trump, those present included Rep. Louie Gohmert's chief of staff, Connie Hair, Frank Gaffney, and an employee for the nonprofit NumbersUSA, Rosemary Jenks, according to the Times report.
In the past, Thomas has been criticized for being overtly partisan, given that she is married to a Supreme Court justice. “Think about what this would look like if she was doing this on behalf of Democratic candidates or Hillary Clinton,” Deborah L. Rhode, a Stanford University law professor, told The Washington Post in December. “I think this is a moment — especially in the wake of the [Brett M.] Kavanaugh hearings, which heightened people’s concerns about partisan bias — where members of the Supreme Court and their families need to think about ways that their public conduct can affect popular trust.”
The meeting between Trump, Thomas, and the others reportedly began with a prayer and lasted for about an hour. Although the topics reportedly discussed reflected relatively typical hard-line conservative political talking points, the Times report did not indicate that any policy changes would happen as a result. Whether an agenda was set ahead of time was also not clear, based on the Times report.
Aside from the guests, several White House aides were also reportedly present. At one point, the Times reports, he pulled his daughter, Ivanka Trump, into the room. He reportedly remarked that she would be adored by the media if she weren't working under a conservative president, and lamented the "negative news coverage" related to her.
The topic of the government shutdown was also supposedly discussed, with some attendees suggesting that certain members of the Republican party should be "tarred and feathered" for letting it go on for so long, according to the Times. The president reportedly defended some of the criticized party leadership.
It's not clear exactly when during the partial shutdown that the meeting took place. It was not reported on until it had ended.