Ex-Trump aides move step closer to being held in contempt of Congress | U.S. capitol attack

Two of Donald Trump’s top former advisers, Peter Navarro and Dan Scavino, are facing mounting legal peril after the House committee investigating the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol moved a step closer to recommending criminal charges against them.

The members of the committee were expected to meet on Monday night to discuss whether to hold Navarro, Trump’s former trade adviser, and Scavino, his former deputy chief of staff, in criminal contempt of Congress.

A contempt report released on Sunday accused the two men of ignoring subpoenas that require them to hand over documents and face questions from the committee.

The committee is expected to vote unanimously to recommend charges, triggering a House vote. The recommendation would then pass to the Department of Justice, which would decide whether to prosecute.

Scavino, 46, and Navarro, 72, were intimately involved in efforts to subvert the results of the 2020 election so Trump could hang on to power. The contempt report says Scavino attended “several meetings with the president in which challenges to the election were discussed”.

It also refers to Scavino having monitored a website, TheDonald.win, on which individuals planned violence in the run-up to January 6.

Navarro was a prominent advocate of false claims of vote fraud. He has openly talked about a plan known as the “Green Bay Sweep”, which involved attempting to persuade lawmakers in battleground states to object to Joe Biden’s victory, in the hope of delaying certification in Congress.

Both former Trump aides are accused by the committee of having failed to meet the demands of their subpoenas. Scavino, who was subpoenaed in September, has been granted six extensions but has yet to produce a document or testify, the contempt report said.

Navarro, who was issued a subpoena last month, has declined to discuss any issues with the committee despite having addressed several in his own book, In Trump Time, published last November. The committee argues that his voluntary disclosures as an author make a mockery of his claim of executive privilege as justification for non-cooperation.

Scavino also insists he is not able to testify because Trump has invoked executive privilege. The Biden administration has said it will not use executive privilege to shield individuals from having to provide documents and other information.

The supreme court in February rejected Trump’s request to block the transfer of thousands of documents from the National Archives. Scavino and Navarro argue that the wider question of executive privilege is unsettled.

The Capitol riot erupted after Trump urged supporters to “fight like hell” to stop Congress certifying Biden’s victory. The US Senate has linked seven deaths to the riot, in which more than 100 law enforcement officers were injured. Nearly 800 people have been charged in connection with the attack, some with seditious conspiracy.

Contempt referrals have been sent to the DoJ for two other central Trump figures. Steve Bannon, Trump’s former strategist, was charged in November by a federal grand jury. He has pleaded not guilty. Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff at the time of the Capitol assault, was referred to the DoJ. It is still reviewing the evidence.

The January 6 committee also made a contempt referral for Jeffrey Clark, a former DoJ official who promoted an attempt to delay certification of results in key states. He was spared a vote in the House after he agreed to appear before the committee – though he went on to invoke his right to silence more than 100 times.

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