Jan. 6 Panel Recommends Contempt Charge for Navarro, Scavino

Jan. 6 Panel Recommends Contempt Charge for Navarro, Scavino peter navarro sits in the white house oval office during the trump administration White House trade adviser Peter Navarro (Andrew Harnik/AP)

Patricia Zengerle Monday, 28 March 2022 09:25 PM

The House Jan. 6 Select Committee voted unanimously Monday to seek "contempt of Congress" charges against Peter Navarro, former trade adviser to ex-President Donald Trump, and Daniel Scavino, who was a Trump deputy chief of staff.

The seven Democrat and two Republican members of the House of Representatives Select Committee approved a report recommending the criminal charge against Meadows by a 9-0 vote. There was no immediate word on when the full, Democrat-led House would vote on the resolution.

That would pave the way for potential criminal charges by the U.S. Department of Justice.

The committee won a victory in federal court Monday when a judge wrote in a ruling Trump "more likely than not" committed a felony by trying to pressure his vice president, Mike Pence, to obstruct Congress and overturn his election defeat.

Navarro and Scavino have disregarded repeated calls to appear before the committee or provide information to the panel about events surrounding the attack.

"They are obligated to comply with our investigation. They have refused to do so. And that's a crime," committee chair Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said as he urged a vote in favor of contempt.

Trump held a rally Jan. 6, 2021, and urged his supporters to march on the Capitol to "peacefully protest" and "have their voices heard" about election fraud and the danger of certifying Joe Biden's Electoral College victory without congressional debate over his fraud allegations.

Four people died on the day of the riot, and one Capitol police officer who fought with rioters died the next day from a reported stroke. Hundreds of police were injured during the onslaught.

Four officers have since taken their own lives.

Trump has urged associates not to cooperate with the committee, calling the Democrat-led investigation politically motivated and arguing that his communications are protected by executive privilege, although many legal experts have said legal principle does not apply to former presidents.

Biden's administration has denied executive privilege to the former Trump aides, saying it was not in the national interest.

Republican Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., the Select Committee's vice chair, noted that more than a dozen former Trump White House officials have been among the hundreds of witnesses who have testified to the committee.

The committee said Feb. 9 it had subpoenaed Navarro, a key player in Trump's effort to present allegations of election fraud to Congress.

Navarro has said in media interviews and in his book he helped coordinate an effort to debate certification of Biden's victory.

Scavino was subpoenaed in September. The committee said he was a witness to Trump's activities on the day of the Capitol riot.

"These men, Mr. Scavino and Mr. Navarro, are in contempt of Congress," Thompson said. "I encourage my colleagues to support adoption of this report. I'm confident the House will adopt a resolution citing them for this crime. And I hope the Justice Department will move swiftly to hold them accountable."

The House has already approved criminal referrals for two others who defied the panel's subpoenas – Steve Bannon, Trump's former chief strategist, and Mark Meadows, who was one of Trump's White House chiefs of staff.

Bannon faces federal charges for refusing to cooperate with the committee and declining to produce documents. He is scheduled for trial in July.

The House voted on Meadows in December, but the Justice Department has not yet said whether it will take action.