The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives voted to hold a pair of former Trump officials in contempt of Congress Wednesday following a unanimous recommendation from the Select Committee on Jan. 6.
Former Trump trade advisor Peter Navarro and former Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications Dan Scavino joined former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Steve Bannon in facing contempt referrals to the Department of Justice (DOJ) after defying subpoena orders. Penalties for those convicted range up to a five-figure fine and a year behind bars.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy railed against the effort to seek jail time for the probe’s political opponents as a “disgusting betrayal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights” during Wednesday’s floor debate on the charges.
“For 15 months, Democrats have used January 6th to trample on civil rights and congressional norms,” McCarthy said. “They broke every rule, violated every norm, [and] bullied every skeptic to hold onto power. Let’s be honest, this is a political show trial.”
Since its inception, born out of response to the failed proposal for a 9/11-style commission last summer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s hand-picked panel to investigate the Capitol riot has become the latest effort by Democrats to weaponize state power against citizens who question the legitimacy of the regime.
While ostensibly established to probe the security failures on January 6, the panel’s subpoenas issued under questionable authority have almost entirely targeted entities and individuals with no direct involvement with the turmoil on Capitol Hill, including the Republican National Committee in a modern-day “digital Watergate.”
According to a Federalist analysis of the committee subpoenas to date, fewer than 10 percent are related to violence. The rest have taken aim at public and private citizens who dared question an election outcome in a contest that featured record-level turnout in the form of mail-in voting monopolized by left-wing private actors run under last-minute rule changes.
The intended effect has been a chill on free speech as the committee’s declared enemies of the state are dragged before Congress, their private records handed over to be selectively leaked, and their freedom threatened by contempt charges. The committee dismissed good-faith efforts from Scavino and others to meet the panel’s requests for records without compromising the integrity of private conversations between the president’s staff litigated under executive privilege.
Pelosi’s probe has continued to operate in the absence of minority representation after the speaker took the self-proclaimed “unprecedented” step to bar Republican-appointed members from the panel. Instead, Republican Reps. Jim Banks of Indiana and Jim Jordan of Ohio have led their own investigation into the Capitol security failures after Pelosi replaced them with Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney and Illinois’s Adam Kinzinger.
The prohibition of Republican-appointed representation has barred GOP access to the same material accessed by members of the committee as its nine-member panel of Pelosi’s deputies combs through records to smear its opposition. The Select Committee has even subpoenaed records from a political consultant operating a political action committee in Wyoming to unseat Cheney, who serves as the probe’s vice chair, despite no involvement in any events on Jan. 6 within the capital.
“The Select Committee aims to do two things,” Banks said on the House floor Wednesday, “silence legitimate questions about the breakdown of security at the Capitol and punish their political opponents. It’s that simple.”
Republican Rep. Troy Nehls of Texas, who serves on Banks’ committee probing the riot, said the speaker’s panel ought to investigate Yogananda Pittman, the head of intelligence for the Capitol Police.
“If the sham select committee was serious about seeking justice for January 6th, they would focus on the people that allowed it to happen,” Nehls told The Federalist. “[Pittman] had the intelligence days before January 6th — what stopped her from acting on it?”
Pelosi’s culpability in the Capitol security lapses has also warranted scrutiny that her deputies in the House have pledged to overlook. As the speaker of the House, Pelosi reportedly rejected requests to dispatch reinforcements from the National Guard six times, according to testimony from former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund.