Politics

House to vote on referring Trump aides Navarro and Scavino to DOJ for criminal contempt


The House voted Wednesday to refer former Trump aides Peter Navarro and Dan Scavino to the Justice Department for criminal contempt of Congress.

The resolution passed in a 220-203 vote, with only two Republicans — Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois — voting in favor of the referral. They are also the only Republican members of the Jan. 6 committee.

Navarro and Scavino snubbed subpoenas from the Jan. 6 committee to testify and turn over documents relevant to last year’s attack on the U.S. Capitol, which disrupted the 2020 electoral vote count during a joint session of Congress.

The committee has said Navarro, a trade adviser during the Trump administration, and Scavino, who was White House deputy chief of staff, “played key roles in the ex-president’s effort to overturn the 2020 election.”

The panel has noted that Navarro publicly boasted about plans to upend the election results and that he published a book last year in which he referred to the plan as the “Green Bay Sweep.”

Scavino, who ran then-President Donald Trump’s social media accounts, was one of the first people the committee subpoenaed last year. The panel said Scavino worked with Trump as part of his “campaign to reverse the election results,” adding, “This campaign included, among other things, spreading false information via social media regarding alleged election fraud and recruiting a crowd to Washington for the events of January 6th.”

The committee said in a report last month that Navarro and Scavino have cited “executive privilege” for not cooperating with it, arguing that only Trump can waive that privilege in their cases, even though President Joe Biden has already done so.

In a statement after the committee voted to send the contempt referral to the full House, Navarro maintained that his position was correct.

“The Select Committee’s witch hunt is predicated on the ridiculous legal premise that Joe Biden can waive Donald Trump’s Executive Privilege. The Supreme Court will say otherwise when the time comes — as it surely must — and the DOJ knows such nonsense would gut Executive Privilege and the critical role it plays in effective presidential decision making,” he said then.

In a statement Wednesday night, Navarro reiterated the executive privilege argument, again claiming “it is not my privilege to waive.”

“This dog of a witch hunt won’t hunt at the Supreme Court, and I look forward to arguing the case there,” he added.

Scavino’s lawyer, Stanley Woodward, declined to comment on the House vote.

Contempt of Congress is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and fines of up to $100,000.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said before the vote that the committee was “criminalizing dissent,” and he argued that the subpoena for Scavino was overly broad.

“Democrats are threatening to throw in jail a good man who’s done nothing but attempt to follow the law, simply because he’s President Trump’s closest aide. Mr. Scavino does not deserve that,” McCarthy said.

The House has already voted in favor of criminal referrals for two other officials who defied the panel’s subpoenas — former Trump adviser Steve Bannon and former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.

The Justice Department acted on the Bannon recommendation, which it does not always do. Bannon has been charged with two counts of contempt and could face up to a year in prison and a $100,000 fine if he is convicted. He has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to stand trial in July.

The Justice Department has not acted on the Meadows referral, which the House passed in December.

Cheney and Kinzinger also voted with Democrats on the Bannon and Meadows referrals.

Zoë Richards and Kyle Stewart contributed.





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