Ward says giving Jan. 6 Committee access to phone records will endanger rights

Ward says giving Jan. 6 Committee access to phone records will endanger rights

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State GOP Chair Kelli Ward sits at an all-Republican event where True the Vote presented what it claimed was massive fraud in the use of early ballots and drop boxes. Ward, through attorney Alexander Kolodin, recently told a federal judge that if she allows the Jan. 6 Committee access to her phone records it will endanger her rights and the rights of the Arizona Republican Party. (Photo by Howard Fischer/Capitol Media Services)

Kelli Ward is telling a federal judge if she lets the Jan. 6 Committee access her phone records it will endanger not only her rights but those of the entire Arizona Republican Party.

Ward, through attorney Alexander Kolodin, said the subpoena issued by the committee seeks to discover with whom she communicated about her “concerns” with the 2020 presidential election.

“That will inevitably lead to the questioning of, and further subpoenas issued to, the thousands of Republicans in contact with plaintiffs,” Kolodin wrote. That includes not just Ward but her husband, Michael, both of whom were part of a slate of fake electors submitted to Congress saying, incorrectly, that Donald Trump had won the state’s 11 electors.

“If the subpoena is not quashed, members of the AZGOP will be made to feel that every time they communicate with party leadership, they risk those communications disclosed to law enforcement followed by a knock on the door (or worse) from federal investigators,” he told U.S. District Judge Diane Humetewa. “A stronger risk of associational chilling can scarcely be imagined.”

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In this Jan. 6, 2021 photo, supporters of then President Donald Trump gather outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington. (AP Photo/Shafkat Anowar)

Those claims are getting an argument by Douglas Letter, the general counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives. He told the judge in his own legal filing that assertions of a chilling effect are “purely speculative.”

Anyway, Letter said, the committee wants only call data, things like the numbers of calls and texts sent and received, not actual content.

“The Select Committee is not seeking sensitive donor information,” he said.

But the real key, Letter said, is that this is not some wide-ranging request. He pointed out what the committee wants covers only from Nov. 1, 2020, just prior to Election Day, through Jan. 31, 2021.

“That date range was specifically designed to obtain information referring or relating to activities surrounding the 2020 presidential election, including false assertions that the election had been stolen and actions related to the appointment of an alternative slate of electors from Arizona,” he said. And Letter told Humetewa those are “activities that directly concerned the Jan. 6 attack.”

It is Ward’s role in all of that the committee seeks to discover.

Central to the legal fight, Letter said, is the legitimate power and role of the committee in finding out the causes of the attack.

“There can be no greater interest than investigating the first attempt to obstruct the peaceful transfer of power of its kind in our nation’s history,” he said. And Letter said the committee needs that information to recommend changes in law to prevent future attacks like the one that occurred when rioters entered the Capitol to stop the electoral vote count.

Kolodin, however, told the judge there’s nothing that getting Ward’s phone records will tell committee members that isn’t already known. That includes sending the alternate slate of electors should legal challenges to the results here succeed.

In fact, he said, Ward even published a book earlier this year about the election and her activities.

But Kolodin said there’s a bigger problem with the committee seeking information about Ward’s activities involving the alternate slate of electors.

“The connection between that action, which took place on Dec. 14, 2020, and the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6, is far from obvious,” he said. But Kolodin said it is only the riot that is within the committee’s purview.

“Nevertheless, the committee has swept any actor who had concerns about the 2020 presidential election into its causative narrative about Jan. 6,” he said.

Letter, however, said the committee does not view her actions in Arizona and the riot as unrelated.

“Dr. Kelli Ward participated in multiple aspects of these attempts to interfere with the electoral count in Jan. 6,” he said. “She told officials in Maricopa County to stop counting ballots and promoted inaccurate allegations of election interference by Dominion Voting Systems.”

In sending the set of unauthorized set of electoral votes to Congress, Letter said Ward “mischaracterized (them) as representing the legal votes of Arizona.”

And that’s not all.

“While Congress was recessed due to the mob’s violence and attack on the Capitol, Dr. Ward continued to advocate for overturning the results of the election,” Letter said, citing a Jan. 6 Twitter post. And even after the riot and congressional certification of Biden’s win, he said, Ward continued to maintain that the slate of fake electors contained “the rightful and true presidential electors for 2020.”

Humetewa has set no date for a hearing.