The House voted largely along party lines to hold former senior Trump aides Peter Navarro and Dan Scavino in criminal contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with the Jan. 6 select committee’s subpoenas on Wednesday.
The referral will now move to the Department of Justice for potential prosecution.
The select committee tasked with investigating the deadly attack on the Capitol first subpoenaed Scavino, Trump’s deputy chief of staff for communications, last September. That panel noted Scavino was with Trump on Jan. 5, 2021, as the then-president looked to pressure lawmakers to vote against the certification of the 2020 election results.
The panel also noted Scavino’s role in promoting the “Save America” rally on social media and argued he may have recordings of the footage that could be helpful to their probe.
Navarro, who was Trump’s trade adviser, got subpoenaed in February after his book, In Trump Time, included passages where “he described this plan as the ‘Green Bay Sweep’ and stated that it was designed as the ‘‘last, best chance to snatch a stolen election from the Democrats’ jaws of deceit,” according to the committee’s report.
The former aides could face up to a year of jail time as well as $100,000 in fines for each count.
Both former staffers have argued that they should be exempt from having to cooperate due to executive privilege.
The pair could face up to a year of jail time as well as $100,000 in fines for each count.
Members of the select committee have blasted their decision to evade their subpoenas, arguing they could hold pivotal information on the events surrounding the lead-up to the breach at the Capitol.
“If 90 percent of success in life is just showing up, then 90 percent of acting in contempt of Congress is not showing up by failing to respond to multiple subpoenas you have been lawfully served,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat. “The rest of contempt is not turning over documents you have been ordered to produce and acting with open disregard and scorn for the rule of law, Congress and representatives of the American people.
Republicans have largely blasted the Jan. 6 panel’s efforts as a “partisan witch hunt” against the former president and his allies.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy vowed to shut down the select panel if Republicans take back the majority next year.
“Democrats are threatening to throw in jail a good man who has done nothing but attempt to follow the law” during a debate on the floor ahead of the vote, said the California Republican. “The January 6 Committee is a political show trial that tramples on civil rights and congressional norms. When Republicans win back the House, this theater will STOP,” he tweeted.
Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana, the chairman of the Republican Study Committee, said, “Disliking their politics isn’t an excuse. You know, Mr. Scavino has two boys. So, before we vote today — we should ask ourselves could we explain to them why their dad deserves a year behind bars. His crime? Daring to question his government.”
The House previously voted to hold former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Trump ally Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress last year.
So far the Department of Justice has only filed charges against Bannon and demanded that the former senior advisor turn over all records and documentation requested by the panel.