U.S. Supreme Court's Kagan blocks Jan. 6 panel from getting Arizona Republican's records

By Nate Raymond and Andrew Chung

(Reuters) -U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan on Wednesday temporarily blocked the congressional committee investigating last year's U.S. Capitol attack by then-President Donald Trump's supporters from obtaining Arizona Republican Party Chair Kelli Ward's phone records while the court further assesses the dispute.

Ward, a Trump ally, had asked the Supreme Court to intervene after lower courts declined to bar telephone carrier T-Mobile from complying with a subpoena issued by the Democratic-led House of Representatives committee seeking three months of her call records. Kagan issued an order effectively putting the litigation on hold and preventing enforcement of the subpoena pending a further order by her or the full court.

Kagan is the justice designated to handle emergency appeals from a group of states including Arizona. Kagan's order directs the committee to respond to Ward's request by Friday.

The panel sought the records as part of its investigation into events surrounding the deadly Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the Capitol by Trump supporters who sought to block Congress from certifying his election loss to Democrat Joe Biden.

The committee last week sent Trump himself a subpoena, which he is expected to contest. Trump, who is considering another run for the presidency in 2024, has accused the panel of waging unfair political attacks on him.

The panel had already been in the process of seeking records concerning Ward, who the panel said participated in multiple aspects of the attempts to interfere with the electoral count.

The records of calls and text exchanges it sought spanned from Nov. 1, 2020, to Jan. 30, 2021, and covered a period when Ward was part of a group of Republicans who falsely presented themselves as Arizona's presidential electors.

Her lawyers argued that providing the panel access to her telephone and text message records would violate Republicans' constitutional rights to free association by giving the committee access to names of party members who spoke with her.

U.S. District Judge Diane Humetewa in Arizona on Sept. 22 said Ward provided no evidence to support her claims that producing the records would chill Republicans' rights or result in harassment of those who interacted with her.

The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Oct. 22 declined to put the subpoena on hold while Ward appealed.

The committee also has subpoenaed Ward herself as one in a group of people who it said had knowledge of or participated in efforts to send false "alternate electors" to Washington for Trump as Congress prepared to certify the election results.

(Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston and Andrew Chung in New York; Editing by Will Dunham)