Los Angeles Times

RNC loses suit seeking to block Jan. 6 data

The decision is a win for the House Select Committee as it fights for access to records related to the riot.

- By Sarah D. Wire

WASHINGTON — In a decision that could reverberat­e across other Jan. 6 legal cases, a federal judge has rejected a Republican National Committee lawsuit seeking to block a campaign vendor from providing records to the House committee investigat­ing the 2021 Capitol riot.

The House Select Committee is seeking internal data from the email marketing vendor about whether the national party’s fundraisin­g messaging after the 2020 election helped stoke violence at the Capitol and about how successful the emails were for fundraisin­g.

Judge Tim Kelly of U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia — an appointee of former President Trump — ruled that the committee’s subpoena for the informatio­n was reasonable and narrowly tailored in light of the evidence that the party joined Trump in spreading claims to supporters that the election was stolen. Kelly said the committee has demonstrat­ed its need for the party’s data from hundreds of fundraisin­g emails sent between Nov. 3, 2020, and Jan. 6, 2021.

In a first, Kelly also swept aside a series of legal arguments about the committee’s creation and makeup that appear in several other lawsuits from Trump allies and former campaign and White House officials who are trying to block the committee from accessing their private communicat­ions and phone records through third-party companies.

Though Kelly stayed his decision until Thursday so the RNC can appeal — delaying the committee from receiving the requested materials — the ruling that the committee’s creation and makeup are valid and that it has a legitimate legislativ­e purpose could be used as precedent in the more than dozen ongoing lawsuits based on similar claims.

The committee in February subpoenaed Salesforce, the third-party vendor the RNC uses to email fundraisin­g requests. The RNC sued the company to keep it from complying. Salesforce told Vice News in the days after the riot that it had “taken action” against the RNC to “prevent its use of our services in any way that could lead to violence”; the House Select Committee asked for informatio­n used as the basis for that decision.

The RNC will appeal Kelly’s decision, said chief counsel Matt Raymer.

“While the RNC strongly disagrees with this ruling, our lawsuit compelled [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi’s January 6th Committee to dramatical­ly narrow the subpoena’s scope,” he said in a statement. “Nancy Pelosi’s attempted seizure of her political opponents’ campaign strategy cannot be allowed to stand, and we appreciate Judge Kelly continuing to temporaril­y block the subpoena. The RNC will continue to fight for the Constituti­onal rights of Republican­s across the country and will appeal this decision.”

The RNC and others have tried to argue in court that because the committee does not have 13 members, as specified when it was created, and because House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfiel­d) did not name the members, the committee was not properly created.

McCarthy withdrew his committee picks when Pelosi, a Democrat from San Francisco, rejected two of his five choices because of their close ties to Trump. She instead named Republican Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming (who serves as vice chairwoman of the committee) and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois. Both have been punished by their party for participat­ing.

The authorizin­g language approved by the House to create the committee states that Pelosi had to consult with McCarthy, Kelly noted — not that she had to accept his choices.

“To ‘consult’ with Minority Leader McCarthy, all Speaker Pelosi had to do was ask for his ‘advice or opinion,’ ” Kelly said in the opinion. “There is no dispute that she did. That she did not “accept all his recommenda­tions, and that Minority Leader McCarthy then withdrew all his recommenda­tions, does not mean that Speaker Pelosi failed to consult with him.”

Kelly also found that the committee’s legislativ­e need for the GOP data outweighed the party’s concerns that sensitive, politicall­y competitiv­e data might be given to the committee or become public.

“Nothing suggests that the Select Committee is demanding, or that Salesforce is preparing to produce, internal RNC memoranda laying out its digital strategy,” Kelly wrote in the 53-page ruling. Although informatio­n about whether an email campaign was successful may have some strategic value, he wrote, “whatever competitiv­e harm may come to the RNC from disclosure of the actual material at issue is too ‘logically attenuated’ and ‘speculativ­e’ to defeat the Select Committee’s weighty interest.”

 ?? Kent Nishimura Los Angeles Times ?? A JUDGE ruled that the committee investigat­ing the Capitol riot demonstrat­ed its need for RNC data.
Kent Nishimura Los Angeles Times A JUDGE ruled that the committee investigat­ing the Capitol riot demonstrat­ed its need for RNC data.

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