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House votes to hold Navarro, Scavino in contempt of Congress

Justice Department will have to decide whether to pursue charges

Former President Donald Trump with White House aide Dan Scavino.
Former President Donald Trump with White House aide Dan Scavino. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House on Wednesday voted 220-203 to hold former Trump White House advisers Peter Navarro and Dan Scavino in contempt of Congress for not complying with subpoenas issued by the committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riot.

Navarro and Scavino refused to provide documents and testimony to the committee. Navarro, who served as a trade adviser for former President Donald Trump, circulated a plan to delay certification of Electoral College votes and kick them back to state legislatures. Scavino, who handled social media and communications for Trump, spread false information on alleged election fraud and attended several meetings with Trump to discuss challenging the 2020 election results, according to the panel’s contempt report.

It will be up to Justice Department officials to decide whether to pursue charges against the two.

“They have a responsibility to speak to us and if they don’t, you know, we can do our part, but it’s up to them,” Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., said of Scavino and Navarro, noting it is up to DOJ to move forward with criminal charges against the duo.

But House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., criticized the work of the Jan. 6 select committee as a “political show trial,” adding: “Democrats are using the power of the federal government to jail their political opponents — and threatening the attorney general for not doing it fast enough.”

McCarthy and the majority of House Republicans opposed an independent, 9/11-style commission that would have required GOP support to issue subpoenas.

Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., who heads the Jan. 6 panel, said on the floor: “Dan Scavino and Peter Navarro must be held accountable for their abuses of the public trust. They must be held accountable for their defiance of the law.”

“They are in contempt of Congress, which is a crime, and I call on my colleagues to do their duty,” he added. “To defend this institution and the rule of law, and to vote yes on this resolution.”

Jan. 6 Committee Vice Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., and Kinzinger were the lone Republicans to vote to hold Navarro and Scavnino in contempt.

DOJ charged Steve Bannon, formerly a top Trump 2016 campaign official and later chief White House strategist, with two counts of contempt of Congress, both misdemeanors. Each count carries a maximum $100,000 fine and up to a year in federal prison. Bannon was a private citizen leading up to and on Jan. 6, 2021. 

Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows was also held in contempt of Congress but has not been indicted. Unlike Bannon, Meadows was working in the White House in the time surrounding the insurrection.

“The Justice Department is still working on Mr. Meadows,” Cheney said before the House Rules Committee Monday.

Jeffrey Clark, a former Trump Justice Department official, was on track to be held in contempt but ultimately asserted the Fifth Amendment, and a House vote did not occur.

Nine Republicans voted to hold Bannon in contempt: Reps. Peter Meijer and Fred Upton, both of Michigan, John Katko of New York, Nancy Mace of South Carolina, Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania and Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington, Cheney and Kinzinger.

Just two Republicans, Cheney and Kinzinger, voted to hold Meadows in contempt.

Of the four Trump associates who have been held in contempt of Congress, Bannon was the only one who was not working in government at the time of the Capitol attack. All have made executive privilege claims.

Last week, when the select committee was voting on the contempt report, Thompson said the executive privilege claims by Navarro and Scavino were without merit. The pair “potentially played a part in an attack on American democracy, but they can ignore our investigation because they worked for the government at the time,” Thompson said, noting their privilege claims were unfounded.

In late 2021, Navarro released a book that discussed his plan to delay and overturn the election results, called the “Green Bay Sweep,” a plan he said Trump was “on board with” and so were more than 100 members. That plan was to convince Vice President Mike Pence to delay the certification of Electoral College votes and return them to the state legislatures, similar to the one promoted by Trump lawyer John Eastman.

Leading up to the insurrection, in December 2020, Navarro issued a report on purported election fraud containing three chapters: “The Immaculate Deception” and “The Art of the Steal” and “Yes, President Trump Won.” Known as the Navarro report, it makes voter fraud claims and was shared with people who promulgated such claims, including Meadows and Eastman.

Scavino spread false information on social media about election fraud and worked to recruit a crowd to Washington on Jan. 6. The committee said it has reason to believe Scavino was with Trump on Jan. 5 and Jan. 6 while conversations took place about how to disrupt the joint session of Congress — and that Scavino and Trump spoke several times the day the Capitol was attacked.

The Jan. 6 committee has conducted over 800 interviews and depositions of witnesses who have knowledge of events related to the riot, including more than a dozen former Trump White House aides, according to Cheney.

“Those in this chamber who continue to embrace the former president and his dangerous and destructive lies ought to take a good, hard look at themselves,” Cheney said, criticizing her Republican colleagues. “At a moment of real danger to our Republic, when the need for fidelity to our Constitution is paramount, they have abandoned their oaths in order to perform for Donald Trump. That will be their legacy.”

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