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House votes to refer Trump aides Scavino, Navarro to DOJ for criminal contempt

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The House of Representatives voted Wednesday evening to hold two former Trump administration officials in criminal contempt of Congress for refusing to cooperate with the select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol

The aides — former White House trade adviser Peter Navarro and former White House deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino Jr. — will now be referred to the Justice Department for possible criminal charges. If indicted, they could face up to 12 months in jail and a maximum fine of $100,000.

Navarro and Scavino did not immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday evening on the House vote.

Dan Scavino, left, and Peter Navarro.
Dan Scavino, left, and Peter Navarro. (Photos: Committee on Arrangements for the 2020 Republican National Committee via Getty Images, Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Wednesday’s vote, 220 to 203, was largely along party lines. While debating the resolution, a number of Republican members of Congress criticized the Jan. 6 committee’s investigation, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

“The January 6 Committee is a political show trial that tramples on civil rights and congressional norms,” McCarthy said. “When Republicans win back the House, this theater will stop.”

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, charged that the select committee “is purely political, designed to do one thing: Keep Donald Trump off the ballot in 2024.”

Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., who sits on the panel, praised its only two Republican members, Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, for their work on the investigation despite backlash from Trump and his allies within the Republican Party.

“If you don't go along with what Donald Trump says, if you don’t act like you're a robot or a member of a religious cult, they destroy you,” Raskin said.

Peter Navarro, then-director of the National Trade Council, speaks to members of the media outside the White House in 2020.
Peter Navarro, then-director of the National Trade Council, speaks to members of the media outside the White House in 2020. (Stefani Reynolds/Sipa/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The Jan. 6 select committee voted unanimously last week to hold Scavino and Navarro in contempt after both men refused to comply with subpoenas seeking testimony and documents detailing their roles in Trump’s effort to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. The riot at the U.S. Capitol that was instigated by supporters of the former president resulted in five deaths and left more than 140 police officers injured.

Both men have attempted to argue that, because they were working in the White House at the time of the riot, the information sought by the committee is shielded by executive privilege.

White House aides Dan Scavino and Hope Hicks listen as then-President Donald Trump attends a service  at the International Church of Las Vegas in 2020.
White House aides Dan Scavino and Hope Hicks listen as then-President Donald Trump attends a service at the International Church of Las Vegas in 2020. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

Wednesday’s vote by the full House makes Navarro and Scavino the third and fourth former Trump advisers to be referred to the DOJ for criminal charges in connection with the investigation into the attack on the Capitol.

So far, only the first of those referrals, for former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, has resulted in a federal indictment for criminal contempt of Congress.

The Justice Department is still considering whether to prosecute former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows after the full House voted to refer him for contempt charges in December. The committee also voted to advance another contempt referral for former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark in November, but that one never made it to the full House after Clark agreed to sit for an interview with the committee, during which he invoked the Fifth Amendment more than 100 times.

Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., speaks alongside Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., and Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., chair of the Jan. 6 select committee.
Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., speaks alongside Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., and Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., chair of the Jan. 6 select committee. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Lawmakers on the select committee have expressed frustration with Attorney General Merrick Garland and the Justice Department in recent days over worries that the key figures involved in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol may escape justice.

“Attorney General Garland, do your job so we can do ours,” Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va., and a member of the panel, said last week.

The committee is working rapidly to complete its work, racing against an informal deadline of the expected takeover of the House by Republicans this November.