Arizona GOP Chair pleaded the Fifth, Jan. 6 committee legal professional says

Arizona Republican Celebration Chair Kelli Ward asserted her Fifth Modification proper towards self-incrimination to keep away from answering questions from the Jan. 6 choose committee, a lawyer for the panel revealed in federal court docket Tuesday.

“Dr. Ward was deposed by the choose committee, and she or he declined to reply on each substantive query and asserted her rights below the Fifth Modification,” choose committee legal professional Eric Columbus mentioned throughout a court docket listening to earlier than Arizona-based US District Court docket Choose Diane Humetewa. Columbus didn’t say when Ward’s deposition happened, although the choose panel’s subpoena teacher her to look on March 8, 2022.

Columbus revealed Ward’s posture throughout a listening to on the committee’s try and get hold of her cellphone information from mobile phone provider T-Cellular. Ward sued the panel to dam T-Cellular from cooperating, however Humetewa lately rejected her effort. Tuesday’s listening to got here amid Ward’s effort to ask Humetewa to delay the affect of her ruling whereas she seeks a assessment from the Ninth Circuit Court docket of Appeals.

An legal professional for Ward declined to remark.

Ward is in search of to dam the choose committee from acquiring information of her calls between Nov. 3, 2020, and Jan. 20, 2021 — the frenetic closing weeks of former President Donald Trump’s time period in workplace as he sought to cling to energy. Columbus famous that the panel had acquired related information from “lots of” of different witnesses with out incident.

However Ward, a medical physician, has claimed that the choose committee might use the information to establish sufferers she’s treating for delicate situations and likewise search to sit back Republican activists who had been in contact together with her throughout that tumultuous time.

Ward legal professional Laurin Mills advised Humetewa that the choose committee’s probe might wind up being “worse than the capitol riot” if its work led to the “criminalization of politics.” Humetewa shortly admonished Mills, noting that the choose committee has no felony authority however is pursuing legislative objectives. Mills responded by noting the Justice Division’s “parallel investigation” into efforts by allies of Trump to subvert the 2020 election. It’s not completely stunning some witnesses would select to keep away from testing to the choose panel given the DOJ’s investigation, which the division revealed in January 2022.

Columbus famous that the choose committee had no intention to acquire the substance of any texts or calls Ward made throughout that interval — solely logs of incoming and outgoing calls and cellphone numbers, which the panel might then use to find out when key contacts associated to the 2020 elections occurred.

“There may be nothing distinctive about Dr. Ward right here,” Columbus mentioned, including that it is unsurprising the panel’s probe touched on political gamers as a result of it is an “investigation of a really political occasion, an try and overthrow and subvert an election.”

Humetewa pressed Columbus about why the committee is simply now urgent for Ward’s information, after deferring for months. Columbus mentioned the panel had opted to prioritize its sources and timing on different areas of the investigation first.

The choose committee subpoenaed Ward in February, in search of her testimony and information about her involvement in Trump’s effort to stay in energy. Ward helped assemble a slate of GOP activists to falsely declare to be the state’s licensed presidential electors, though Joe Biden prevailed narrowly within the November 2020 election there. Prosecutors are investigating the trouble to ship false elector slates to Washington, which was a key factor of Trump’s effort to stoke a battle on Jan. 6, 2021, when Congress met to depend electoral votes and certify Biden’s victory.

The choose committee has subpoenaed dozens of Republicans who acted as Trump’s electors in states the place Biden was the licensed winner. It is unclear what number of have cooperated with the panel’s inquiry.

A number of dozen different witnesses have asserted their Fifth Modification rights fairly than testifying to the choose committee. They embrace former nationwide safety adviser Mike Flynn, Trump confidant Roger Stone, legal professional John Eastman and former Justice Division official Jeffrey Clark.

Along with her work on the pro-Trump Arizona elector slate — wherein she was one in all 10 members — Ward joined a December 2020 lawsuit at forcing then-Vice President Mike Pence’s hand forward of the Jan. 6 session of Congress, when Pence was set to president over the electoral vote depend.

Ward and her fellow false electors have been subpoenaed within the ongoing Justice Division investigation. However Wardindicated in a court docket submitting final week that each one 10 of Arizona’s electors challenged the subpoenas and haven’t heard again from the Justice Division about their objections. DOJ has taken no steps to implement the subpoenas as nicely, she famous.