Court Battles

Arizona GOP chair asks Supreme Court to block phone records from Jan. 6 panel

The chairwoman of the Arizona Republican Party on Wednesday asked the Supreme Court to temporarily shield her phone records from the House panel investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection in support of former President Trump. 

The emergency filing by Kelli Ward is the latest twist in her months-long effort to fend off congressional investigators’ pursuit of her records, and comes just days after a divided federal appeals court panel denied her request to block the House committee’s subpoena.

The filing by Ward and her husband, Michael Ward, was directed to Justice Elena Kagan, who handles emergency matters arising from Arizona.

Following the 2020 election, the Wards were among a group of 11 Arizonans who falsely claimed to represent a slate of pro-Trump electors, signing a phony election certificate that purported to show former President Trump won Arizona, despite his losing the state to Joe Biden. 

The Jan. 6 panel, which subpoenaed Ward’s phone carrier for her records, has described the multi-state attempt to put forth fake Trump electors as central to the effort to overturn Trump’s defeat, which eventually led to the riot at the Capitol.

In court papers filed Wednesday, the Wards portrayed the Jan. 6 investigation as politically motivated, and said their case carried “profound precedential implications” for the right to free political association.

“In a first-of-its-kind situation, a select committee of the United States Congress, dominated by one political party, has subpoenaed the personal telephone and text message records of a state chair of the rival political party relating to one of the most contentious political events in American history — the 2020 election and the Capitol riot of January 6, 2021,” they wrote.

The Wards’ application to the Supreme Court follows a 2-1 ruling against them by a panel of judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. The divided panel, in a ruling issued on Saturday, denied the Wards’ request for an order barring their phone carrier, T-Mobile, from complying with Jan. 6 panel subpoena for three-months of phone records spanning the run-up to the Nov. 2020 election through January 2021.

“Ward participated in a scheme to send spurious electoral votes to Congress, a scheme that the Committee describes as ‘a key part’ of the ‘effort to overturn the election’ that culminated on January 6,” the majority wrote. “Although Ward asserts that ‘congressional investigators already know what she did,’ the Committee explains that that is untrue: When the Committee sought to question her about those activities, she invoked the Fifth Amendment and refused to answer.”

Earlier in the case, a federal judge in Arizona in September rejected the Wards’ request to quash the subpoena, prompting their appeal.

—Updated at 4:14 p.m.

Tags Arizona Republican Party Donald Trump Elena Kagan Jan. 6 Committee Kelli Ward Kelli Ward

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