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House recommends criminal referrals for Trump aides Navarro and Scavino

House considers contempt charges
House committee hearing on contempt of Congress for Navarro, Scavino 03:37

The House on Wednesday voted to refer criminal contempt charges against two former Trump aides who haven't complied with subpoenas from the committee investigating the January 6, 2021 assault on the Capitol. The vote was 220 to 203, largely along party lines. 

The motion refers contempt charges against Peter Navarro and Dan Scavino to the Justice Department, after the former aides refused to comply with subpoenas to appear before the committee. Other contempt votes for Steve Bannon and Mark Meadows have already passed the House.

"To run into this kind obstruction ... as we investigate a violent insurrection is just despicable," said the committee's chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson, ahead of the vote. "It can't stand."

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, one of two Republicans on the House January 6 committee, said ahead of the vote that by refusing to comply with the subpoena, Scavino showed "contempt for the law and contempt for Congress."

It will be entirely up to the DOJ to decide what to do with the referrals. The Justice Department charged Bannon in November with two counts of contempt of Congress, and his trial is set to start in July. The Justice Department has not yet moved on charges against Meadows. 

Dan Scavino and Peter Navarro AP/Andrew Harnik, AP/Alex Brandon

In a recent report, the January 6 committee accused Navarro, a former top trade adviser for Trump, of working with Bannon and others "to develop and implement a plan to delay Congress' certification and ultimately change the outcome of the November 2020 presidential election." Scavino was the ex-president's social media guru and deputy chief of staff, and a longtime assistant to the president even before the White House. The committee claims they have "reason to believe that Mr. Scavino was with then-President Trump on January 5 and January 6 and was party to conversations regarding plans to challenge, disrupt, or impede the official congressional proceedings." 

Rep. Liz Cheney, the vice chair of the committee, said ahead of the vote that, "Election claims made by Donald Trump were so frivolous and so unfounded that the president's lead lawyer did not just lose these cases, he lost his license to practice law. The New York Supreme Court found, quote, 'there is uncontroverted evidence that Mr. Giuliani communicated demonstrably false and misleading statements to courts, lawmakers and the public at large in his capacity as lawyer for Donald J. Trump and the Trump campaign in connection with Trump's failed effort in 2020.'"

Scavino and Navarro have cited executive privilege for why they can't appear, something President Biden has rejected. Thompson also has said executive privilege can't be claimed without at least showing up.

Navarro countered in a statement that, "President Trump has asserted executive privilege, it is not my privilege to waive, and the appropriate course of action would have been for the Committee to negotiate this matter directly with the president as I directed them do.  Instead, the Committee has colluded with the Biden White House in a futile effort to strip Donald Trump of executive privilege so it can coerce me into cooperating with their witch hunt.  This dog of a witch hunt won't hunt at the Supreme Court, and I look forward to arguing the case there."

Some Democratic lawmakers have begun to express frustration with the Justice Department and Attorney General Merrick Garland for not following through on indictments against Trump allies related to January 6.

"Attorney General Garland, do your job so we can do ours," said Rep. Elaine Luria, a Democrat from Virginia and a select committee member, last week.  

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