Jan. 6 panel recommends contempt charges for ex-Trump aides
The Jan. 6 select committee on Monday voted unanimously to recommend two former Trump aides be held in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with their subpoenas.
Why it matters: The panel has continued to use contempt of Congress as its tool of choice to compel testimony from intractable or even hostile witnesses, particularly those in Trump's orbit.
- Former White House strategist Steve Bannon was indicted by the Justice Department last year after the House passed a contempt referral against him.
- The House also referred former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows for contempt last year, but the DOJ has yet to take action.
- The panel approved a referral for former DOJ official Jeffrey Clark but held off on triggering a House vote and instead struck a deal with Clark.
The state of play: Former White House trade adviser Peter Navarro failed to show up for his scheduled deposition, and former White House deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino delayed his deposition six times, according to a report from the panel.
- Neither has produced any of the requested documents, the report says.
- Based on Scavino's role tracking social media for Trump in the run-up to the attack, the committee says it has "reason to believe that Mr. Scavino may have had advance warning about the potential for violence on January 6th."
The other side: Navarro has invoked executive privilege in refusing to cooperate, telling Axios on Thursday that "if President Trump waives the privilege, I would be happy to testify."
- "Until this matter has been settled at the Supreme Court, where it is inevitably headed, the Committee should cease its tactics of harassment and intimidation," he said.
- Scavino has also asserted privilege, according to emails released by the select committee.
What they're saying: “This is America. There’s no executive privileges for president, much less trade advisers, to plot coups,” Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) said during the hearing. “The courts aren’t buying it, and neither are we.”
- Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.) displayed a Jan. 3 text from a journalist to Meadows on a call "that Navarro helped convene with legislators as part of his effort to get Pence to delay certification of the election for 10 days," adding that "the president participated."
What's next: The contempt referrals will now go to a full vote of the Democrat-controlled House, which is likely to approve them.
- In addition to all Democrats, Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), the two Republicans on the panel, have consistently voted with all Democrats to approve its contempt referrals.