The House of Representatives voted Wednesday to hold former Trump advisers Peter Navarro and Dan Scavino in contempt of Congress for refusing to cooperate in the investigation into the Jan. 6 attack at the US Capitol.
Lawmakers in the lower chamber adopted a resolution to send contempt charges against the duo to the Justice Department.
Navarro, Trump’s trade adviser, and Scavino, a White House communications aide, ignored subpoenas to address their false claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election that congressional investigators said led to the riots months later.
Scavino allegedly reached out to conspiracy theorists and violent extremists on social media to lure them to the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Navarro had written a false report alleging that President Joe Biden stole the election, and worked to delay Congress’s certification of the results that day, the congressional investigators said.
Both men argued their silence was protected under “executive privilege,” which was waived after the Biden administration found the exemption was “not in the national interest, and therefore is not justified.”
Wednesday’s vote passed along partisan lines with two exceptions and sparked a contentious debate on the floor of Congress.
Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois were the only Republicans to support the measure. The pair also represent the only GOP members on the nine-person House select committee probing the Capitol riot.
Senate Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy called the proceedings a “political show trial” and said Democrats were “criminalizing dissent.”
Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat on the select panel, said the vote demonstrated that “open contempt and mockery for this process, and for the rule of law” would not be tolerated.
Scavino had “refused to testify before Congress about what he knows about the most dangerous and sweeping assault on the United States Congress since the War of 1812,” Raskin said.
“I mean, it is just amazing that they [Republicans] think they can get away with this,” he told reporters.
Navarro and Scavino are the third and fourth former lieutenants of President Donald Trump to be sanctioned by the House for refusing to testify about their roles in the riot. They could face $100,000 and up to a year in prison if prosecuted and convicted by the feds.
Former White House strategist Steve Bannon and former chief of staff Mark Meadows were also found in contempt after ignoring the panel’s subpoenas.
Bannon was indicted, but federal prosecutors had not yet brought charges against Meadows, to the frustration of House investigators.
More than 800 other witnesses had been interviewed by the panel, including Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner.
The committee alleged last week in a court filing that Trump and his cohorts criminally conspired to “defraud the United States” by provoking a violent mob of supporters to disrupt the certification of his 2020 election loss.
With AP wires