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Tuesday, January 31, 2023

House Committee sets vote on contempt for two Trump aides

The votes are efforts to uncover more illegal actions of the Donald Trump White House
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Former White House trade adviser Peter Navarro (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

The House committee investigating the Capitol riot said Thursday that it had set a vote for next week to consider contempt of Congress charges for two aides of former President Donald Trump.

The committee will meet Monday to discuss whether to recommend referring for potential prosecution Trump’s former trade adviser, Peter Navarro, and former White House communications aide Dan Scavino.

The meeting marks the panel’s latest effort to hold witnesses accountable whom it sees as uncooperative in its investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection, when pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol in hopes of blocking Congress from certifying the results of the presidential election won by Democrat Joe Biden.

The committee subpoenaed Navarro for his testimony in early February, seeking to question the Trump ally who promoted false claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election. Though Navarro sought to use executive privilege to avoid cooperation, the Biden administration this month denied claims from him and another onetime Trump aide, former national security adviser Michael Flynn, saying an assertion of executive privilege was not justified or in the national interest.

In a statement Thursday, Navarro called the committee vote “an unprecedented partisan assault on executive privilege. The committee knows full well that President Trump has invoked executive privilege and it is not my privilege to waive.”

Navarro said it was “premature for the committee to pursue criminal charges against an individual of the highest rank within the White House for whom executive privilege undeniably applies.” He said the dispute seemed “inevitably headed” to the Supreme Court, and until there was a resolution, the House committee “should cease its tactics of harassment and intimidation.”

A lawyer for Scavino, who was subpoenaed last September, did not immediately return messages seeking comment. In laying out last fall the need for Scavino’s cooperation with the investigation, committee chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat, said it appeared Scavino was with Trump on Jan. 6 and may have “materials relevant to his videotaping and tweeting” messages that day.

The committee previously voted to recommend contempt charges against longtime Trump ally Steve Bannon after he defied a congressional subpoena, as well as against Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows after he ceased cooperating with the panel. The full House then approved both contempt referrals.

Bannon was later indicted by a federal grand jury and is awaiting prosecution by the Justice Department. The Justice Department has not taken any action against Meadows.


Associated Press writer Jill Colvin contributed to this report.


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