A federal judge on Friday cleared the way for a House committee to investigate the January 6, 2021 riots at the U.S. Capitol to subpoena the cell phone records of Kelly Ward, the Arizona Republican Party chairman.
Already in August, U.S. District Judge Dianne Humitiwa ruled that the committee was within its rights to request records, Ward’s lawsuit against the Jan. 6 panel was dismissed in January.
On Friday, Hometewa also denied Ward’s request to suspend the subpoena until she appealed the judge’s ruling.
Hometewa said Ward did not meet the criteria for deferring the subpoena. In her ruling, she said, Ward did not raise a “serious legal question” to be asked on appeal.
The ruling came after three days of pleadings in court over the subpoena, filed in January, that required Ward’s cell phone provider, T-Mobile, to hand over call and text message records from her phone from November 2020 through January 2021.
This timeframe would cover the period during which Ward helped convene state party headquarters meetings for voters who would have chosen the Arizona Electoral College for the votes of former President Trump had he won the election.
Although Trump lost Arizona to President Joe Biden, Ward and other voters gathered anyway on December 14, 2020, declaring themselves the state’s “duly elected and qualified” voters. Documents with this false assertion were sent to Congress.
Arizona policy: Kelly Ward refused to answer questions before the January 6 panel
Eight states in total have submitted similar papers as part of a scheme intended to sow confusion in the history of the Electoral College vote count by Vice President Mike Pence. The commission’s testimony showed that the plan was that Pence could either delay ratification, or delay elections to Congress under a provision of little use in the United States Constitution.
During the vote count on January 6, 2021, after Trump supporters learned that Pence would testify for Trump’s loss and would not go along with the scheme, the Capitol was violated.
In court Thursday, a lawyer for the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 attack on the United States Capitol said the committee was looking into who Ward was in contact with during that time.
“There are aspects of her involvement that are not fully understood,” Columbus said.
He also said that the information could not come from Ward herself who, under a subpoena, “refused to answer every substantive question” posed by the committee.
Ward argued that the commission’s subpoena was an override for two reasons.
The first is that the records will include records of calls with clients at her weight loss medical clinic. Ward asserted in court papers that disclosing those phone numbers would violate federal medical privacy laws.
previously: January 6 committee can see Kelli Ward’s phone records
The second is that revealing who you spoke would violate Republicans’ right to freedom of association. Her lawyer said, in a court filing, that Republicans would be dissuaded from speaking with their party’s leader in the future, for fear that the call would lead to a government investigation.
In court on Tuesday, Lauren Mills, an attorney for Ward of Alexandria, Virginia, said the subpoena was “intended to discourage political rhetoric.”
Mills also warned Humitiwa that the case was on “thin ice” and said the consequences for the nation would be dire if it ruled in favor of the government.
“If you make that mistake, you will set a precedent worse than the Capitol riots,” Mills said.
Hometewa, in its ruling on Friday, said Ward’s privacy concerns are on dubious grounds. She noted that Ward posted a video of the voter meeting and that she had written a book about the time period.
In doing so, Hometewa wrote, “She presumably published many of the identities of the political contacts she came into contact with during that time. To say the least, this self-publishing is not indicative of a genuine concern about the privacy of her contacts.”
Ward’s Arizona-based attorney, Alexander Michael Cullodin, did not respond with a letter seeking comment.
A lawyer for T-Mobile, the warded cell phone provider, said in court on Tuesday that it would comply with the subpoena if a judge rules the way it did on Friday.