The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack recommended on Monday that the full chamber hold senior Trump White House officials in contempt of Congress for their refusal to comply with congressional subpoenas for records and testimony related to efforts to overturn the 2020 election, as it enters a “critical phase” of its investigation. Prior to Monday night’s decision on whether to submit the subject to the House, the panel released a 34-page report on Sunday laying out congressional investigators’ interest in Peter Navarro and Dan Scavino, as well as how both Trump loyalists ignored calls for help. Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said both men “stonewalled” the committee on Monday. “They’re not fooling anybody. They are obligated to comply with our investigation. They have refused to do so. And that’s a crime,” he said.
If the House passes the bill, the referrals will be sent to the Justice Department, which will decide whether to pursue criminal charges. Each count of contempt could result in a $100,000 fine and a year in prison. “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 as part of a statement released after the vote. “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.”
“The 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump just as surely as JFK stole it from Nixon in 1960,” Navarro said. “If that is true — which I have found it to be — the entire premise of the contempt charges filed against me fall to pieces.” Trump ally Steve Bannon has been indicted by the Justice Department for refusing to cooperate with the committee’s subpoena. Bannon’s trial, to which he has pled not guilty, might start this summer. The Department of Justice has not responded to a referral from the House of Representatives about former Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows’ unwillingness to fully cooperate with the committee’s subpoena, which numerous committee members alluded to and appeared to criticize Monday.
“The Department of Justice has a duty to act on this referral and others that we have sent,” Rep. Adam Schiff said Monday. “Without enforcement of Congressional subpoenas, there is no oversight, and without oversight, no accountability — for the former President, or any other president, past, present, or future.” Navarro also worked closely with Trump friend Steve Bannon to postpone Congress’ certification of the election and reverse the results, according to the committee’s findings, a strategy Navarro nicknamed the “Green Bay Sweep” in his book “In Trump Time.” According to the committee, Navarro communicated with Bannon on January 6, pushed Trump allies to contact Trump ally Roger Stone to discuss plans for January 6, and urged hundreds of state legislators to “take action” prior to the election results being certified.
Navarro has repeatedly rebuffed the committee and refused to comply with its subpoenas, claiming that Trump invoked executive privilege over their communications, despite the fact that he detailed parts of his work in his book — and despite the fact that current Commander-in-Chief Joe Biden declined to invoke executive privilege over his testimony. “My position remains this is not my Executive Privilege to waive and the Committee should negotiate this matter with President Trump.” Navarro said in a statement Sunday, in response to the committee’s report. “If he waives the privilege, I will be happy to comply; but I see no effort by the Committee to clarify this matter with President Trump, which is bad faith and bad law.”
Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., labeled Navarro a “important witness” who “wrote a book boasting about his role in planning and orchestrating the action of Jan. 6, and yet he does not have the bravery to appear here,” according to Cheney. Trump’s claims of privilege were previously rejected by the Supreme Court, and the committee was denied access to some Trump White House records. Navarro’s election-related work, according to the panel, was not done in his role as a government official and hence would not be protected by executive privilege. “We’d like to speak with Mr. Scavino and Mr. Navarro about their roles in the election tampering attempt. The American people did not fund their salaries in order for them to do so “Thompson scoffs at their claims of confidentiality.
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Scavino, deputy chief of staff and veteran Trump associate, was “uniquely positioned to clarify” Trump’s knowledge and actions leading up to Jan. 6, the committee wrote in its report. In his job as the president’s Twitter and other social media accounts manager, Scavino also played a key role in promoting Trump’s false accusations of widespread election fraud. On Jan. 6, Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Illinoa, said Scavino “could tell us” what Trump was thinking. On Monday, he added, “We need to hear from him.” Scavino spoke with Trump “multiple times” on Jan. 6 and was with him at the White House as he faced public and private pleas to help stop the violence at the Capitol, according to the committee’s findings.
Given online activity on pro-Trump forums that foreshadowed probable violence in Washington, the committee said it had “reason to suspect” that Scavino “may have had early warning of the prospect of violence on Jan. 6,” citing his online presence and links to Trump’s social media following. “The Select Committee’s inquiry and consideration of legislative proposals will be highly relevant to whether and when the President and other top officials were aware of potential violence,” the committee stated. Last year, the panel issued Scavino three subpoenas, one of which was delivered by US Marshals to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, and agreed to postpone his deposition and document production deadline a half-dozen times. Scavino, on the other hand, has “not presented a single document, nor has he come for testimony,” according to the committee’s findings.
In January, Scavino filed a lawsuit against Verizon to prevent the provider from handing over his cell phone information to the committee. An attorney for Scavino did not reply to ABC News’ inquiries for comment.