Jan. 6 Panel Holds Two More Trump Lieutenants in ‘Contempt’

Drew Angerer

Drew Angerer

In yet another strike at the code of silence in Trumpworld, the Jan. 6 Committee voted Monday night to hold two former White House officials “in contempt of Congress” for refusing to show up and testify about their roles in the violent riot at the Capitol building.

Peter Navarro, who ran the Trump administration’s Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, and Dan Scavino Jr., Trump’s longtime social media guru who later served as his deputy chief of staff, were both held in contempt and could face criminal charges if the full House of Representatives votes on the contempt resolution and the Department of Justice pursues charges.

Both men could have key information about the president’s role in planning and knowledge of the Jan. 6 protests that quickly became an assault on the Capitol. Navarro developed a secret plan dubbed the “Green Bay Sweep” to convince senators and representatives to legislatively overturn Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election. And Scavino became a pointman to recruit pissed-off MAGA Americans to show up on that fateful day.

Jan. 6 Committee Subpoenas Trump’s Ex-Trade Adviser Peter Navarro

Investigators say he also mingled with QAnon to provoke the violence there.

Navarro and Scavino previously received subpoenas from the Jan. 6 Committee, but they both refused to testify under oath behind closed doors or turn over records. Navarro was subpoenaed following an exclusive story by The Daily Beast that laid out the former official’s plans in detail—and his claims that Trump “was certainly on board with the strategy.”

“These two men played a key role in the ex-president’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election,” said the committee’s chairman, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS) said during the live-streamed hearing.

The chairman laid out how both Navarro and Scavino wasted the committee’s time.

Dan Scavino Finally Served With Jan. 6 Subpoena… at Mar-a-Lago

“He strung us along for months before making it clear that he thinks he’s above the law. Mr. Navarro, despite sharing relevant details on TV, in podcasts, and in his own book, he also stonewalled us,” he said.

Shortly after the hearing, Navarro released a statement calling the committee a «witch hunt.» Yet he reiterated that he had indeed hatched a plot to unwind the presidential election, claiming that the «violence and chaos… [was] the last outcome Donald Trump and I wanted on January 6. We needed peace and calm that day for the legal Green Bay Sweep to run and thereby get an accurate accounting of all legal votes.»

Scavino did not respond to a request for comment.

Both have now started down the same path as ex-White House political strategist Steve Bannon and ex-chief of staff Mark Meadows, who also face potential jail time for the crime of ignoring a congressional subpoena. Bannon has already been charged by the Department of Justice and has a criminal trial scheduled for later this year. Meadows was voted “in contempt” by the full House of Representatives, and could also face formal charges from the Justice Department

Another member of the Jan. 6 panel, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), alluded to the importance of having the DOJ actually act on Meadows—and follow up with Navarro and Scavino.

“This committee is doing its job. The Department of Justice must do theirs,” she said.

Jan. 6 Committee Wants to Interview Ginni Thomas About Those Texts

Scavino’s testimony is of particular interest to congressional investigators, who are wrapping up their historic and massive probe. Scavino shaped Trump’s social media at a time when his account was driving his followers into an intentionally misinformed, seething rage.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) said he and fellow committee members wanted to ask Scavino about how he monitored trends on social media, shaped public perception of the Big Lie, and whether he let the former president know that his rhetoric would likely make people act out violently. He said investigators are also curious about how QAnon accounts would so quickly amplify Trump’s rhetoric and fake accusations about election fraud.

The panel also revealed how Meadows’ text messages appear to show that Navarro held a secret Jan. 2 phone call with Trump and legislators four days before the riot to discuss Operation Green Bay Sweep. That plan, as Navarro himself described it, was to convince enough Republicans to delay certifying electoral college votes—and get then-Vice President Mike Pence to hit pause on the entire ordeal for 10 days.

The text message unveiled on Monday described the plan the same way—and exposed that Trump himself was on the call.

If the DOJ picks up the case, Navarro and Scavino could face criminal charges. They could have avoided the mess, of course, if they’d just done what other Trump lackeys have done: show up and say nothing by simply pleading the Fifth Amendment.

That was the tactic preferred by Jeffrey Clark, the high-ranking MAGA loyalist at the Justice Department, as well as legal adviser John Eastman, one-time national security adviser Michael Flynn, and life-long GOP operative Roger Stone.

The committee members also took turns criticizing the pair for claiming that they were somehow barred from showing up by merely claiming that the information they have is shielded by “executive privilege,” a legal concept that says a current president’s staff is protected by the power of the executive office.

The idea that Trump’s lieutenants can claim this protection after their boss left office is a bogus legal theory that was killed by a U.S. district court and shot down yet again by three-judge federal appellate panel (that included now-Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson). And it was completely rejected by the Supreme Court.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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