The House Select Committee on Jan. 6 voted to recommend holding two more former White House aides under President Donald Trump in contempt of Congress Monday night over failure to comply with a set of broad subpoenas issued by the panel.
Former Trump advisers Peter Navarro and Dan Scavino now face a full chamber vote to determine whether to recommend the Department of Justice (DOJ) press contempt charges with penalties of up to a year in jail.
“Our Committee will continue to litigate to obtain the testimony we need,” pledged GOP Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, who serves as vice chair of the select committee on a crusade to persecute political dissidents.
The panel, ostensibly established to probe the Capitol riot, cited recent court decisions overruling President Trump’s claims of executive privilege to shield documents from congressional review by lawmakers in pursuit of an ideologically motivated witch hunt. Trump’s White House successor, Joe Biden, waived Republican claims of executive privilege for those subpoenaed by the panel.
According to a series of correspondence obtained by The Federalist between Scavino’s legal team and the Jan. 6 Committee since last fall, the House probe (which lacks any Republican appointments) dismissed good faith efforts to comply with lawmaker requests within the scope of legal challenges presented by executive privilege. While the Supreme Court denied a motion to block Trump’s appeal to maintain executive privilege in January, the Jan. 6 Committee expanded the scope of its inquiry ahead of demands for a sit-down deposition under questionable authority to include topics beyond the “matters of inquiry” stated in the initial subpoena.
In a Nov. 18 letter to Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., Scavino’s attorney, Stan Brand, wrote the expansion “make[s] it difficult for us to sufficiently prepare Mr. Scavino to present competent testimony or to ensure that he has adequate representation at such a deposition.”
“Although we invited your staff to engage with us so as to ‘hone in on a subset of topics that can be prioritized,’ we received no response to this invitation,” Brand added. Such topics included knowledge of “coded language” and the potential invocation of the 25th Amendment.
The Supreme Court’s decision to reject Trump’s claims of executive privilege, Scavino’s counsel argued in a February letter to Thompson, “does not resolve the issue of President Trump’s directive.”
Brand explained (emphasis his):
As the Circuit Court articulated in its opinion, ‘[t]his preliminary injunction appeal involves only a subset of those requested documents over which former President Trump has claimed executive privilege, but for which President Biden has expressly determined that asserting a claim of executive privilege to withhold the documents from the January 6th Committee is not warranted.’
In other words, Scavino’s legal team claims the former senior Trump adviser is unable to lawfully comply with the committee’s requests without the risk of compromising executive privilege. That very inability now may land Scavino 12 months behind bars pending action from the Biden Justice Department if the Democrat-controlled House votes to affirm the panel’s unanimous recommendation for contempt.
The pair of contempt referrals follow a trio of other former officials in the Trump administration who’ve similarly been recommended for contempt charges by the panel including Steve Bannon, former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, and former Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Clark.
Since it was established, the Jan. 6 Committee has remained laser-focused on prosecuting former President Trump, Trump’s aides, and Trump’s supporters, as opposed to probing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s negligent management of the congressional complex and security failures leading up to the riot. According to a Federalist analysis of the 96 subpoenas issued by the committee to date, only eight are targeted at those associated with the riot at the Capitol. The rest seek the records of either government officials or private individuals in a doxing campaign to criminalize political dissent.
Earlier this month, Democrats on the committee admitted to The Washington Post that the panel’s work, complete with prime-time show trials, was all about the midterms as inflation, high energy prices, and global turmoil tarnish the reputation of Democrats in power.