The congressional committee investigating the January 6 attack on the United States Capitol has the right to see the phone records of Arizona Republican Party Chairwoman Kelli Ward and her husband, Michael , a federal judge said Thursday.
The House Select Committee’s January 6 subpoena requested phone records from T-Mobile between November 1, 2020 and January 31, 2021, for four phone numbers associated with the Wards and Michael Ward’s company, Mole Medical Services. Both districts were among the Arizona Republicans who were bogus voters and signed a fake document claiming that Donald Trump had won the state in the 2020 election.
Wards filed a lawsuit in February challenging a subpoena for the phone records, arguing it was “too broad,” Wards said, because it is “unrelated to the enabling resolution.” of the issuing committee” and does not establish a clear link between the dossiers and the potential legislation.
They also argued that the subpoena violated the First Amendment rights of themselves and the state’s GOP, and they claimed the subpoena was illegal because the committee violated House rules. And the Wards, who are both physicians, told the court that handing over the phone records would violate Arizona law protecting patient-physician privilege and HIPAA, the federal law governing the privacy of medical information.
Federal Judge Diane Humetewa on Thursday dismissed all of those arguments. She wrote in an 18-page ruling that the committee’s work serves a valid purpose and is not illegal — thus barring a lawsuit against the federal government.
“This three-month period is clearly relevant to his investigation into the causes of the January 6 attack,” she wrote. “The Court therefore has no doubt that the conclusion of these cases can contribute to the valid legislative objective of the select committee.”
Humetewa also noted that the federal courts have no oversight role regarding the rules of the U.S. House of Representatives, rejecting Wards’ argument that the committee has fewer members than the authorization resolution required.
The judge also flatly rejected the claim that the recordings would entrap anyone who called or texted Kelli Ward “be embroiled in the largest criminal investigation in the history of the United States” and face political harassment or persecution from the Democrats, in violation of their First Amendment rights. .
Humetewa said the argument was “highly speculative” and that the quarters “provided no evidence to support their assertion that producing the phone numbers associated with this account will chill the plaintiffs’ or the GOP’s rights of association. of Arizona”. They also provided only “conclusive allegations” that compliance with the subpoena would result in harassment of themselves or anyone else.
The judge also dismissed claims that state and federal medical confidentiality laws would be violated if the phone records were turned over. Even if state law applied — and Humetewa said it did not — his authority is overridden by the constitutional authority of Congress to conduct investigations that could lead to legislation. She also said Wards’ claims that a phone number would expose confidential information were “implausible”.
And Humetewa said the wards did not cite any case law to support their argument that the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, protects their phone records. Further, she said the subpoena was issued to T-Mobile, not the Wards, and that the cellphone company was not bound by HIPAA.