WASHINGTON ( Associated Press) – The House will vote Wednesday whether former Trump advisers Peter Navarro and Dan Scavino are held in contempt of Congress after their House investigation of the January 6 attack on the US Capitol The committee’s summons was refused to be obeyed.
If approved as expected, criminal referrals will be sent to the Department of Justice, which will decide whether to prosecute.
Navarro, 72, a former White House business adviser, was summoned in early February for promoting false claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election that the committee believes contributed to the attack.
Scavino, a communications aide, was with Trump on the day of the attack on the Capitol and that there may be “material relevant to his videotaping and tweeting” that day, the committee said.
While contempt attempts may not provide any new information for the committee – any prosecution can drag on for months or even years – they are an attempt by the nine-member panel to indicate that witnesses will face consequences if they do not cooperate. do or at least do not appear for questioning. The panel has already been remarkably effective in securing testimony, conducting more than 800 witnesses in the nine months since it was created.
This will be the third time that the panel has sent contempt charges on the floor of the House. The first two referrals sent late last year were for former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and former Trump aide Steve Bannon.
Navarro declined to testify, citing executive privilege, saying the committee should “negotiate the matter with President Trump.” He continued, “If they waived the privilege, I would be happy to comply.”
But the Biden administration has already waived executive privileges for Navarro, Scavino and former national security adviser Michael Flynn, saying it was not appropriate or in the national interest to withhold their testimony.
Executive privilege was developed to protect the president’s ability to obtain explicit advice from his advisers without fear of immediate public disclosure, but it has limitations. Courts have traditionally left the question of whether to enforce the executive privilege occupied by the current White House. The Supreme Court earlier this year rejected Trump’s bid to withhold documents from the committee.
In its subpoena for Scavino’s eventual fall, the committee cited reports that he had been with Trump the day before the attack, during a discussion about whether members of Congress were asked not to certify the election of President Joe Biden. How to persuade
A lawyer for Scavino did not return multiple messages from the Associated Press seeking comment.
The contempt referral against Bannon resulted in an indictment, whose trial was due to begin in July. The Justice Department has been slow to decide whether to prosecute Meadows, much to the frustration of the committee.
“It is the committee’s expectation that they will present it to a grand jury,” committee chairman Rep. Benny Thompson told reporters on Tuesday. “Obviously, the Meadows case is still outstanding. We don’t really know where he is, other than that we’ve done our job.”
“The firewall goes above our point of view, and the DOJ uses its systems to take it from there,” he said.
Legislators are interviewing dozens of individuals a week as they approach public hearings in late spring. Last week, the committee interviewed Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner. Both were key White House advisers who had substantial access to the former president.
Thompson suggested that even more witnesses could be arrested for contempt in the coming weeks, while the committee tries to wrap up the investigative portion of their work over the next two months.
“The question here – is there anyone who ignored the summons for the committee and will we determine whether it is eligible to proceed, or have we received other information that negates the need,” he said.
One person the committee has yet to contact for testimony is former Vice President Mike Pence. And Thompson said lawmakers may not need to speak to him directly.
Close aides of Pence have already testified before the panel, including Mark Short, who was in the Capitol on January 6 and accompanied Pence as he fled his position presiding over the Senate.
Trump publicly and privately pressured Pence to reject Biden’s 2020 election victory as part of his formal role overseeing the election count, but Pence rebuked him, noting that his He had no such power to change the result. The rioters who stormed the Capitol were outraged by Pence’s decision and called for his execution if the building was demolished.