Arizona GOP chair doesn't have to give her phone records to Jan. 6 committee just yet
By Howard Fischer
Capitol Media Services
PHOENIX -- The head of the Arizona Republican Party got at least a temporary reprieve in her bid to stop her phone records from being turned over to Congress.
In a brief order Wednesday, Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan agreed to stay an order by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that the Jan. 6 committee is immediately entitled to information about who Kelli Ward called and texted around the time of the 2020 election and through the riot at the Capitol. Those records, subpoenaed by the panel, also include who called and texted her.
But the order by Kagan is not the last word.
She has given attorneys for Congress through the end of the day Friday to tell her and her colleagues why they are immediately entitled to the records. And at that point either Kagan by herself or the full court will decide the fate of the records.
Wednesday's order is an interim victory for Ward who up until this point has been unable to convince lower court judges that the subpoena violates not only her right to privacy but that it illegally undermines her ability as chair of the state GOP to do her job and communicate with party members. Her attorney, Alexander Kolodin, said just the threat that their phone calls and texts with Ward will become public will chill their desire to contact her.
Central to the issue are arguments by Douglas Letter that the committee needs the information as part of its charge to determine the causes of the Jan. 6 riot.
Letter has told judges that Ward played a key role in undermining public confidence in the election, a factor he said that led to the disturbance.
He noted that texts showed that Ward, days after the election when it was clear Joe Biden had won Arizona, texted Clint Hickman, chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, seeking to arrange a call with President Trump. And he said that Ward "promoted false allegations of election interference by Dominion Voting Systems.''
Then there was Ward's role in convening a set of electors -- herself and her husband included -- and sending their votes for Trump to Congress as "representing the legal voters of Arizona.''
"This fake elector scheme was a key part of President Trump's effort to overturn the election,'' Letter told the appellate judges, saying she even continued to maintain even after the Jan. 6 riot that the votes for Trump.
Ward said disclosure should wait until she exhausts her legal appeals.
But Letter said that time is crucial, as the committee -- and its ability to study the issue and prepare a report -- self-destructs after Jan. 3 when a new Congress is sworn in.
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