Judge Rejects Trump Colorado Attorney’s Attempt to Avoid Jan. 6 Committee Subpoena | Courts


A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit from one of former President Donald Trump’s attorneys in Colorado, who sought to avoid a subpoena over his phone records from the congressional committee investigating the riot murderous at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.

Katherine Friess sued the The select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, alleging its request for its phone logs — but not the content of the communications — went beyond the committee’s authority and breached his attorney-client privilege with Trump.

The committee, in turn, argued that it could not be prosecuted for issuing a subpoena because it was conducting a legitimate investigation into reported attempts by Friess on Trump’s behalf to gain access to voting machines after the election. 2020 presidential election and to work differently to reverse the election results.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Kristen L. Mix sided with the committee, recommending in October that Friess’ attempt to block the subpoena be dismissed.

“Plaintiff does not call the attention of the court to a case where the select committee’s investigation was found to be contrary to a legitimate duty of Congress,” she wrote. Therefore, “the court finds that the plaintiff’s telephone records are not an inappropriate source for the select committee’s investigation.”

Last Thursday, in a brief order, U.S. District Court Judge Charlotte N. Sweeney adopted Mix’s recommendation in its entirety.

The U.S. House of Representatives has voted to create the select committee to investigate the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol by Trump supporters seeking to prevent certification of the presidential election, in which Joe Biden won the college’s popular and electoral votes. The House authorized the committee chairman, U.S. Representative Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., to issue subpoenas for information and testimony.

Friess, whose Colorado attorney registration lists a business address in Vail, wrote in her lawsuit that she was an “election integrity attorney” and had worked for Trump since November 2019. Since the January 6, the media reported on Friess. involvement in Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 results. For example, Friess was tied to a proposed executive order that would have allowed the federal government to seize voting machines and urged local Michigan officials to examine their equipment.

On February 1 of this year, Thompson issued a January 6 panel subpoena to AT&T, requesting call and text logs from Friess’ phone account between November 2020 and January 2021. Thompson also directly requested testimony and documents to Friess.

“The select committee’s investigation has uncovered credible evidence that you publicly promoted claims that the 2020 election was stolen and participated in attempts to disrupt or delay the certification of election results,” Thompson wrote to him. in a letter dated March 1.

Friess then filed a lawsuit in Colorado, accusing the committee of abuse, violating his attorney-client privilege by disclosing his communications with clients, and crippling his First Amendment right to speak about “the ‘integrity of this country’s elections’.

“I revere our laws,” Friess wrote in court. “I have been harassed, threatened and defamed over the past few weeks, including harassing phone calls to my clients and colleagues seeking my whereabouts and contact details.”

The committee responded that the long-standing precedent of the United States Supreme Court made Friess’s trial futile. The Constitution provides for members of Congress that with “no speech or debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other place. »

The Supreme Court, in the 1975 decision of the Eastland v. United States Servicemen’s Fundsruled that when Congress is acting within its legitimate legislative functions, the speech or debate clause provides “an absolute bar” to judicial interference.

“Given that the select committee’s subpoena to AT&T falls within this approved and legitimate legislative sphere, the court cannot interfere with the independence of Congress by receiving Ms. Friess’ complaint,” the committee’s attorneys wrote. .

Mix, analyzing the legal arguments, dismissed Friess’ characterization that the “dump of a lawyer’s smartphone data” amounted to illegitimate activity on the part of the committee. She accepted the Eastland decision definitively protected the committee of any legal involvement.

“In short, ‘the absoluteness of the protection of speech or debate’ is not overcome by other protections in the Constitution,” the magistrate wrote.

Although the parties had 14 days to file objections to Mix’s findings, neither party did. As a result, Sweeney, the district judge, quickly dismissed the case.

To date, the committee has engaged in a series of televised hearings and obtained testimony from former Trump administration officials, election officials in swing states, a convicted participant in the attack on the January 6 and law enforcement officers who were present that day. On Sunday, select committee member U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-California, told “Face the Nation” that members would release “all evidence” before the new Congress in January.

I think we have, as we showed in our hearings, made a compelling presentation that the former president was central to the effort to overturn a duly elected election, rounded up the crowd, sent them to the Congress to try to interfere with the peaceful transfer of power,” she said.

The case is Friess v. Thompson et al.


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