WASHINGTON — A federal judge in Arizona ruled Thursday that the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol can see the phone records of Arizona Republican Party Chairwoman Kelli Ward and her husband.
U.S. District Court Judge Diane J. Humetewa rejected the Wards’ arguments in a February lawsuit that the congressional panel should be prevented from getting the phone records of the couple, who are doctors, because it would violate medical privacy laws.
In January, the state GOP chair and her husband, Michael Ward, were among 14 of 84 so-called alternate electors subpoenaed by the committee because they had claimed in bogus documents that then-President Donald Trump had won the 2020 election in their states.
The judge wrote in her 18-page filing Thursday that the House committee’s information request “relates to phone calls records from November 1, 2020, to January 31, 2021, from an account associated with a Republican nominee to serve as elector for former President Trump.”
“That three-month period is plainly relevant to its investigation into the causes of the January 6th attack,” she wrote. “The court therefore has little doubt concluding these records may aid the select committee’s valid legislative purpose.”
Humetewa also dismissed the Wards’ arguments that the subpoena seeking their phone records violate their First and 14th Amendment rights and that releasing the records would risk that those the couple had contacted during the period could be “implicated in the largest criminal investigation in U.S. history.”
The judge also rejected the plaintiffs’ assertion that the subpoena would result in harassment, like the death threats they had previously received, because those “incidents have already occurred.”
The Department of Justice, meanwhile, has also been investigating the “fake electors.” The Jan. 6 committee, which is expected to hold what could be its final hearing Sept. 28, has compelled many of them to testify, alleging they were part of the broader scheme by Trump and his allies to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
Rebecca Shabad is a politics reporter for NBC News based in Washington.
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