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AZGOP chair Kelli Ward pleaded the Fifth when the Jan. 6 committee questioned her

By: - October 4, 2022 11:12 am
AZGOP chair Kelli Ward

Arizona Republican Party Chairwoman Kelli Ward at a February 2020 rally for Donald Trump in Phoenix. Photo by Gage Skidmore | Flckr/CC BY-SA 2.0

Kelli Ward, the chair of the Arizona Republican Party, refused to answer questions from the congressional committee investigating the violent Jan. 6 insurrection aimed at overturning the 2020 election and instead asserted her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

The disclosure was made Tuesday in federal court by an attorney for the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol as part of litigation surrounding the committee’s subpoena of phone records for Ward and her husband. 

Politico first reported the news:

“Dr. Ward was deposed by the select committee, and she declined to answer on every substantive question and asserted her rights under the Fifth Amendment,” select committee attorney Eric Columbus said during a court hearing before Arizona-based U.S. District Court Judge Diane Humetewa. Columbus did not say when Ward’s deposition took place, though the select panel’s subpoena instructed her to appear on March 8, 2022.

Columbus revealed Ward’s posture during a hearing on the committee’s attempt to obtain her phone records from cell phone carrier T-Mobile. Ward sued the panel to block T-Mobile from cooperating, but Humetewa recently rejected her effort. Tuesday’s hearing came amid Ward’s effort to ask Humetewa to delay the impact of her ruling while she seeks a review from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Attorneys for Ward did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Kelli and Michael Ward filed a lawsuit in February challenging a subpoena for the phone records, arguing that it was “overbroad,” the Wards said, because it is “unrelated to the enabling resolution of the issuing Committee” and doesn’t make a clear connection between the records and potential legislation. 

They also argued that the subpoena violated the First Amendment rights of both themselves and the state GOP, and they claimed that the subpoena was illegal because the committee was in violation of House rules. And the Wards, who are both physicians, told the court that turning over the phone records would violate Arizona’s law protecting patient-physician privilege and HIPAA, the federal law governing privacy of medical information.

But Humetewa last month rejected those arguments, prompting the Wards to appeal. 

Kelli Ward was a key player in the “fake electors” scheme that Donald Trump’s campaign spearheaded as a way to block the certification of Joe Biden’s victory in 2020. As chair of the Arizona Republican Party, she organized the signing of a fraudulent document declaring that Trump had won Arizona’s electoral votes.

She and her husband were both among the fake electors who signed the bogus document

The New York Times reported in August on emails sent by Trump campaign attorneys in which Ward and a GOP state senator, Kelly Townsend, raised concerns that the fake elector scheme “could appear treasonous.” 

In addition to the subpoena from the Jan. 6th committee, the Wards and other fake electors in Arizona have been subpoenaed by the U.S. Department of Justice for information relating to the scheme to overturn the election results.

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Jim Small
Jim Small

Jim Small is a native Arizonan and has covered state government, policy and politics since 2004, with a focus on investigative and in-depth policy reporting, first as a reporter for the Arizona Capitol Times, then as editor of the paper and its prestigious sister publications, the Yellow Sheet Report and Arizona Legislative Report. Under his guidance, the Capitol Times won numerous state, regional and national awards for its accountability journalism and probing investigations into state government operations.

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