WASHINGTON – The House committee investigating the Capitol attack voted Monday to urge the full House to find Peter Navarro and Dan Scavino, aides to former President Donald Trump, in contempt for defying subpoenas and to urge the Justice Department to charge them criminally.
The committee chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., Said Scavino strung the panel along for months before refusing to testify. Navarro also stonewalled, despite sharing details in his book and in TV interviews, Thompson said.
“In short, these two men played a key role in the ex-president’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election,” Thompson said.
The resolution now goes to the full House.
The department is already prosecuting former Trump strategist Steve Bannon and considering whether to charge former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.
Navarro, a former trade adviser, has refused to testify, citing executive privilege to keep communications with Trump confidential. In his 2021 book “In Trump Time,” Navarro described the scheme to delay certification of the 2020 election of President Joe Biden as the “Green Bay Sweep” and said it was the “last, best chance to snatch a stolen election from the Democrats’ jaws of deceit.”.
Navarro said in a later interview that Trump was “on board with the strategy,” according to the committee. The panel seeks documents about the plan and testimony.
Navarro replied in an email Feb. 28 and letter March 1 that he wouldn’t cooperate unless Trump waived executive privilege.
More:Jan. 6 committee examines how Capitol riot unfolded – and how to prevent it from happening again.
The Supreme Court refused in January to block the release of Trump documents from the National Archives and Records Administration, despite Trump’s claims of executive privilege. Lower courts ruled that Biden’s waiver of privilege for the investigation as sitting president outweighed Trump’s claim.
Earlier this month, Biden refused to support Navarro’s privilege claim.
“This is America and there is no executive privilege here for presidents much less trade advisers to plot coups and organize insurrections against the peoples’ government and the U.S. Constitution and then to cover up the evidence of their crimes,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md. “Courts aren’t buying it and neither are we.”.
A committee member, Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., Said Navarro allegedly led a call with state lawmakers Jan. 2, 2021, as part of an effort to persuade Pence to delay certification of the election.
“Among the many questions we have for Mr. Navarro, we need to hear from him about that conversation, about that phone call,” Aguilar said.
More:Who has been subpoenaed so far by the Jan. 6 committee?
Scavino, a former deputy chief of staff, spread false information about election fraud and helped recruit the crowd to Washington for Trump’s rally Jan. 6, 2021. After the rally, a mob of Trump supporters ransacked the Capitol, where 140 police officers were injured and the counting of Electoral College votes temporarily halted.
The committee seeks information from Scavino about Trump’s activities leading up to the riot and about messages on social media that day.
Scavino’s lawyers, Stan Brand and Stanley Woodward, called the committee’s demands “prosecution tactics” that exemplify “a pattern and practice of intimidation and disregard for the rule of law.”.
The lawyers said Scavino’s documents should be available through the National Archives. But they said his testimony could still fall under executive privilege, an issue they said wasn’t resolved in Trump’s Supreme Court case.
A committee member, Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., Said Scavino managed Trump’s social media accounts and monitored domestic violent extremists. Lawmakers want to ask Scavino about his interactions with Trump.
“They knew the Jan. 6 crowd could turn violent,” Kinzinger said.