A federal judge ruled Thursday that the Congressional Select Committee investigating the riots at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021 may summon the Arizona Republican Party chief’s phone records.
In January, the select committee sent a subpoena requesting access to telephone records for Kelly Ward, the Arizona Republican Party chairman, that would have covered activity from November 2020 through January 2021.
This would include the time period when Ward held an unapproved and unauthorized list of electors to give Donald Trump state electoral votes despite his loss in Arizona.
These fake electoral votes were sent to Congress for consideration of the count during its January 6, 2021 session, which stalled for hours after the US Capitol was violated by angry Trump supporters.
Although it wasn’t clear when this happened, testimonies and records obtained by the selection committee indicated that fake Arizona voters were part of a larger conspiracy that was to weave through Byzantine election procedures and declared Trump the winner of the 2020 election.
The scheme would have required Vice President Mike Pence, who is tasked with officially counting the Electoral College votes on January 6, 2021, to either decide to count the alternate rolls sent by Arizona and seven other states. or to say that the election was in doubt and to refer the question of the winner to Congress, through a procedure provided for in the United States Constitution.
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It is not clear exactly how the plan was developed or who was involved.
The eight states that cast false Electoral College votes on December 14, 2020, sent remarkably similar papers to Congress and the National Archives. At least one of Trump’s advisers, Stephen Miller, learned of the plan, and said in an interview with Fox and Friends that day that alternate slates of voters would meet and send their votes to Congress.
Ward filed a lawsuit in federal court in February seeking to rescind the subpoena that the US House of Representatives Select Committee sent to investigate the January 6 attack on the United States Capitol to its mobile phone provider, T-Mobile.
Ward, in arguments filed with the court, said the records would have included records of clients’ calls at her weight loss medical clinic, records she said were protected by federal privacy laws.
Ward also said that the subpoena was too broad and in violation of First Amendment rights to freedom of association. In an August filing, her lawyers argued that forcing T-Mobile to produce call records could have a chilling effect on Republicans speaking with their party leader.
Republicans, according to the proposal from Ward’s attorney, Alexander Cullodin, “would feel that every time they communicated with the party leadership, they would risk exposing those communications to law enforcement followed by knocking on the door (or worse) from federal investigators.”
U.S. District Judge Dianne Humitiwa dismissed those arguments in her ruling Thursday, ruling that the selection committee had good reason to search the records and that any argument about the chilling effect was “highly speculative.”
Humetewa also said that the medical privacy debate is not going through the crowd because the records requested do not include any medical information, only records of interactions.
Culloden had no immediate reaction to the dismissal on Thursday.
Ward herself has been summoned by both the Select Committee and the FBI.
She did not respond to an interview request sent through a GOP spokesperson in Arizona.
The group of Republicans that met at party headquarters on December 14, 2020 was the same as 11 people whose names appeared in the general ballot as designated voters for Trump.
They included Ward and her husband Michael, as well as Representative Jake Hoffman, former Representative Anthony Kern and Tyler Boyer, chief operating officer of Turning Point Action, an advocacy organization founded by conservative figure Charlie Kirk.
In a court filing in August, Ward argued that sending the alternative list of voters was done as a safe order of sorts. The motion said these fake voters “acted to send an alternate slate of electors to Washington in the event that legal challenges to the Arizona results were successful.”
The proposal said the connection between sending fake voters and the January 6, 2021 riots was “far from clear”.
Footage shown during the select committee’s televised hearings showed the rioters became enraged upon hearing that Pence had decided to certify Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 election and not consider any alternative scheme that would have kept himself and Trump in office.
In the footage, the rioters began chanting: “Hang Mike Pence.”