The Democratic-controlled House Select Committee investigating the January 6, 2021 protest at the U.S. Capitol subpoenaed numerous Republicans close to former President Donald Trump, including three months of phone records from Arizona Republican Party Chair Kelli Ward despite not participating in the rally that day.
Several of the Republicans subpoenaed are fighting back against the aggressive posturing, including Ward, who filed a lawsuit in Arizona federal district court on Tuesday along with her husband against the House Select Committee and its chair Rep. Bennie Thompson (R-MS-02) in order to stop T-Mobile from turning over the records.
Ward alleges that the subpoena was issued as retaliation for her and her husband being one of 11 Arizona Republican electors that selected Donald Trump for president shortly after the 2020 presidential election, while the litigation over the election was still ongoing. She said the subpoena “fails to provide a valid legislative purpose” since she wasn’t present at the January 6 protest.
“The disclosure required by the Subpoena does not relate to a sufficiently important government interest because there has been no link, alleged or otherwise, between the events of the January 6th attack on the Capitol the Committee was formed to investigate, and the Plaintiffs,” Ward’s lawsuit said.
Instead, she said the subpoena is being utilized as “a prelude to a criminal investigation against individuals nominated as electors” which is “invalid as an ultra vires expression of congressional power.”
Anti-GOP hacks Liz Cheney & Adam Kinzinger who put themselves on the phony Pelosi J6 commission should be censured & not be considered Republicans. They’ve targeted me with impunity & they need to be held accountable. https://t.co/Cb7fMzJ0IT
— Dr. Kelli Ward 🇺🇸 (@kelliwardaz) February 3, 2022
Through their attorneys, the Wards stated, “Investigations conducted solely for the personal aggrandizement of the investigators or to ‘punish’ those investigated are indefensible[,]” and “Congress has no power to ‘try’ someone before a subcommittee for any crime or wrongdoing, because law enforcement is assigned ‘under our Constitution to the Executive and the Judiciary,’” citing Trump v. Mazars USA. On January 28, the House committee issued subpoenas for 14 Republican electors from seven swing states who selected Trump, including two Arizonans.
Ward, a doctor, cites the right to privacy and the confidential patient-physician privilege nature of the phone calls she made, which are also protected by HIPAA medical privacy law. She and her husband are osteopathic doctors who frequently talk to their patients by phone. She also asserts that it is First Amendment retaliation and they are entitled to damages.
She said it puts “the entire Republican Party in Arizona” in jeopardy because it would turn over to the Democrats “the personal telephone numbers, IP addresses, file names of attachments, and contact details of the party members most in communication with the state chair of the party at a time when the legitimacy of the last presidential election was in dispute.”
Ward said both her and her husband have received death threats and other threatening messages, so turning over the records “would lead to substantial and serious injury and harassment.”
She cited technical violations by the House committee related to disregarding the minority Republicans on the committee, including the failure to issue the subpoena in the presence of a majority of the committee or a quorum and the failure to properly delegate authority for issuing subpoenas to the chair.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA-23) said earlier this month that the committee’s investigation is illegitimate and he will not have any part of it.
“This committee is not conducting a legitimate investigation as Speaker Pelosi took the unprecedented action of rejecting the Republican members I named to serve on the committee. It is not serving any legislative purpose. The committee’s only objective is to attempt to damage its political opponents – acting like the Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee one day and the DOJ the next,” he said.
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