The House on Wednesday voted to hold former Trump administration aides Peter Navarro and Dan Scavino in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with subpoenas from the Jan. 6 select committee.
Why it matters: As the panel seeks to piece together former President Trump’s actions on Jan. 6, it has referred multiple uncooperative members of his inner circle to the Justice Department for contempt in hopes of extracting their first-hand accounts and documents.
- Former White House strategist Steve Bannon is set to face trial in July after the House referred him to the DOJ and a federal grand jury indicted him.
- The House also voted to hold former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in contempt, though the DOJ has not yet acted on that referral.
Driving the news: The contempt resolution passed 220-203.
- Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), the two Republicans on the panel, voted with Democrats to pass it.
- The panel said in a report last month that Scavino’s deposition was delayed six times but that he never testified and “has not produced a single document.”
- Navarro has refused to sit for a deposition at all, claiming executive privilege shields him from giving testimony.
Details: The panel has identified Scavino, Trump’s former deputy chief of staff, as one of the few people with Trump on Jan. 6, and Navarro, the former trade adviser, as deeply enmeshed in Trump’s schemes to overturn the election.
- “It … appears you were in the vicinity of former President Trump on January 6 and are a witness regarding his activities that day,” Jan. 6 committee Chairman Bennie Thompson wrote in a letter to Scavino after subpoenaing him.
- Navarro “hasn’t been shy about his role in efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election and has even discussed the former President’s support for those plans,” Thompson wrote after subpoenaing him in February.
What they’re saying: “No one is above the law,” Cheney said in a floor speech ahead of the vote.
- “Neither Mr. Trump nor Mr. Scavino nor Mr. Navarro is some form of royalty,” she continued. “There is no such thing in America as the privileges of the crown. Every citizen has a duty to comply with a subpoena.”
The other side: Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) argued in a floor speech that contempt is a “political punishment,” noting the charge carries up to a year in prison.
- “The question is: do we live in a country where you can go to jail for working for the wrong politician,” Banks said.
- “The Select Committee’s witch hunt is predicated on the ridiculous legal premise that Joe Biden can waive Donald Trump’s Executive Privilege,” Navarro said in a statement to Axios after the panel approved the contempt referral.
- Scavino’s attorneys wrote to the White House last month arguing he has a “legal duty” to invoke executive privilege because he was “instructed by President Trump to do so.”
What’s next: The ball is now in the DOJ’s court, and it’s not entirely clear how they’ll respond. Democrats have started to openly push Attorney General Merrick Garland to come down on uncooperative Trump allies
- The department moved swiftly on Bannon, charging him just 22 days after the House passed its referral.
- However, it has been nearly four months since the House indicted Meadows and the DOJ has yet to charge him.