The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot voted unanimously on Monday night to hold two former White House aides of then-President Donald Trump in contempt of Congress.
The select committee’s seven Democrats and two Republicans voted 9-0 to sanction Peter Navarro and Dan Scavino for refusing to comply with subpoenas for documents and testimony in connection with their alleged role in the raid.
Navarro was Trump’s trade adviser and Scavino was a White House communications aide.
The committee’s resolution now needs approval from the full House of Representatives before the Justice Department could consider criminal charges against the pair.
If convicted, they could face a year in prison and fines up to $100,000.
Both men have claimed “executive privilege” in their refusal to cooperate with the committee. President Joe Biden’s administration waived the privilege, claiming it was “not in the national interest, and therefore is not justified.”
Scavino allegedly reached out to conspiracy theorists and violent extremists on social media to lure them to the Capital on Jan. 6, 2021, panelists said. On that day, a mob of pro-Trump supporters stormed the building in hopes of overturning the results of the election.
“Mr. Scavino worked directly with President Trump to spread [his] false message that the election was stolen, and to recruit American to come to Washington with the false promise that Jan. 6 would be an opportunity to ‘take back their country,’” said committee vice chair Liz Cheney, a Republican.
“This effort to deceive was widely effective and widely destructive,” Cheney said.
Navarro, according to Rep. Jamie Raskin, detailed in his book “In Trump Time: My Journal of America’s Plague Year,” how he encouraged Capital rioters and tried to stop former Vice President Mike Pence from certifying the election in his book.
Raskin said the committee’s work to protect the constitution was especially meaningful as Russia waged an unprovoked war in the former Soviet territory of Ukraine.
“We are fighting to defend the institutions of democracy at home against coup plotters and insurrectionists and we are supporting other democracies around the world under siege by autocrats, kleptocrats, bullies and despots,” said Raskin.
Hundreds of witnesses had already testified before the panel, including more than a dozen members of Trump’s staff, officials said.
Former White House strategist Steve Bannon and former chief of staff Mark Meadows have also been referred for a House contempt vote after ignoring the panel’s subpoenas.
“We have learned that President Trump and his team were warned in advance and repeatedly that the efforts they undertook to overturn the 2020 election would violate the law and our constitution,” Cheney said
“They were warned that Jan. 6 could and likely would turn violent.”
Five people died in connection with the attack. At least 800 rioters have been arrested.