The RNC, according to the 53-page opinion, will have a chance to appeal by May 5, so the records will not be transmitted immediately.
Investigators were specifically after materials the RNC sent out through massive software vendor Salesforce from Election Day 2020 through Jan. 6, 2021. They argued that reviewing this would give the panel a chance to determine the breadth and depth of the RNC’s push to its supporters about Trump’s “Big Lie.”
In March, a spokesman for the committee, Tim Mulvey, defended the panel’s lawsuit succinctly.
“These emails encouraged supporters to put pressure on Congress to keep President Trump in power,” Mulvey said.
The RNC sued to stop the subpoena issued to Salesforce, claiming gross overreach. They argued that compliance would give the Jan. 6 probe an “all-access pass” to confidential party strategies, fundraising appeals, and other sensitive member information.
But Kelly on Sunday disagreed.
In fact, he wrote, the Jan. 6 committee is not asking them to go about “producing any disaggregated information about any RNC’s donors, volunteers, or email recipients, including any person’s personally identifiable information.
“Moreover even the RNC’s own confidential information that is undeniably at issue is relatively narrow in scope,” he continued.
The suggestion that the initial subpoena from investigators exploring the Jan. 6 attack is little more than a bald attempt to expose competing inner party workings was shot down, too.
Kelly did acknowledge, however, that those sentiments may very well be reasonable “given the obvious political dynamics involved” of the day and the “unusual” circumstances and demands now present in this “exceedingly rare spectacle of a congressional committee subpoenaing the records of one of our country’s two major political parties.”
Nonetheless, there are still several conflicts within the RNC’s attempt to stop the transfer of records and discredit the panel.
In short, Kelly explained that the Jan. 6 committee is properly authorized and rightfully constituted to do its work because its members were lawfully appointed and are valid representatives on a special committee that operates within the confines of the legislative branch.
There was also an explicit win tucked into the ruling for Liz Cheney, the Wyoming Republican who has borne seemingly endless political attacks since disavowing Trump’s incitement of an insurrection at the Capitol.
In the myriad reasons the RNC claimed the subpoena was unenforceable, it cited a line from the select committee’s authorizing resolution, or in simpler terms, what amounts to its founding charter.
The authorizing resolution notes that Committee Chair Bennie Thompson, when issuing a subpoena, must consult with the body’s “ranking minority member.” The RNC argued that Cheney, despite being the most senior Republican on the probe, was not officially given the title of “ranking minority member,” therefore making the subpoenas bunk.
But again, Kelly found otherwise.
“True, for whatever reason the select committee did not give her—or anyone else—the formal title ‘ranking member.’ But to the extent there is any uncertainty about whether she fits the bill, on this record the Court must defer to the select committee’s decision to treat Representative Cheney as the ranking minority member for consultation purposes,” he wrote.
Sunday’s ruling is important for the committee because it further dilutes most contentions put forward by a wide array of Jan. 6 investigation critics and targets alike, from Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy who has blasted the committee since its inception, to former Trump administration officials like Peter Navarro who have dubbed the body a partisan witch hunt comprising “domestic terrorists.”