The House select committee investigating theunanimously voted Monday night to recommend that former Trump aides Peter Navarro and Dan Scavino be held in contempt of Congress for failing to cooperate with subpoenas.
Committee chair Bennie Thompson acknowledged in a statement on Monday that Navarro, a former trade adviser, and Scavino, a former deputy chief of staff and member of the White House communications team, “aren’t household names,” but he said they are “so important to our investigation.”
“In short: these two men played key roles in the ex-President’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election,” Thompson said. “The Select Committee subpoenaed them for records and testimony to learn more about their roles and what they knew.”
Thompson said that Scavino “strung us along for months before making it clear that he believes he’s above the law.” Navarro, Thompson said, shared “relevant details on TV and podcasts in his own book,” but he “stonewalled us.”
In a statement Monday night, Navarro said the select committee’s “witch hunt is predicated on the ridiculous legal premise that Joe Biden can waive Donald Trump’s Executive Privilege. The Supreme Court will say otherwise when the time comes – as it surely must – and the DOJ knows such nonsense would gut Executive Privilege and the critical role it plays in effective presidential decision making.”
Vice chair Liz Cheney, one of the two Republicans on the committee, said Monday that the committee has “already defeated President Trump’s effort to hide certain White House records behind a shield of Executive Privilege,” and “that same conclusion should apply to Mr. Scavino and Mr. Navarro.”
“In the coming months, our committee will convene a series of hearings,” Cheney said. “The American people will hear from our fellow citizens who demonstrated fidelity to our constitution and the rule of law – who refused to bow to President Trump’s pressure.”
Speaking after the vote, committee member Jamie Raskin said to “please spare us the nonsense talk about executive privilege rejected now by every court that has looked at it. This is America, and there’s no executive privilege here for presidents, much less trade advisors, to plot coups and organize insurrections against the people’s government and the people’s constitution, and then to cover up the evidence of their crimes. The courts aren’t buying it and neither are we. “
Monday’s vote comes after the committee released a 34-page report recommending the contempt charges on Sunday night.
“The contempt report published last night gets into the weeds on this, but broadly, Mr. Scavino and Mr. Navarro are making similar excuse,” Thompson said. “They’re claiming that the information we want from them is shielded by executive privilege.”
The committee referred the matter to the full Democratic-controlled House, which will decide to schedule a vote on whether to turn the matter over to the Justice Department.
Navarro, along with other Trump allies who have been subpoenaed, have said they cannot overrule Trump invoking executive privilege. President Biden, meanwhile, has.
“My position remains this is not my executive privilege to waive, and the committee should negotiate this matter with President Trump,” Navarro said in a statement. “If he waives the privilege, I will be happy to comply; but I see no effort by the committee to clarify this matter with President Trump, which is bad faith and bad law.”
Scavino, who the committee noted had dual roles as a White House official and a key promoter of Trump’s stolen election theory on social media, was first subpoenaed in September to provide documents to the committee and sit for depositions, along with former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, former Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon and Pentagon chief of staff Kashyap Patel. Sunday night’s report said Scavino was first issued a subpoena at Mar-a-Lago, but the committee had to issue a second subpoena in October after the first one was challenged.
The committee is seeking information from Scavino because, according to Sunday’s report, he was “reportedly present for meetings in November 2020 where then-President Trump consulted with outside advisors about ways to challenge the results of the 2020 election” and because they have “reason to believe that Mr. Scavino was with then-President Trump on January 5 and January 6 and was party to conversations regarding plans to challenge, disrupt, or impede the official congressional proceedings.”
The committee said Trump and Scavino spoke multiple times by phone on January 6 and alleged that Scavino might have had advance warning of the violence because he monitored websites where the assault was discussed. The report detailed Scavino’s activities on The_Donald subreddit and TheDonald.win.
In rejecting Scavino’s claims of executive privilege, Mr. Biden said it “does not extend to discussions relating to non-governmental business or among private citizens.”
The committee also rejected Navarro’s claim of executive privilege, writing in the report that “the Select Committee does not seek documents or testimony from Mr. Navarro related to his official duties as a Federal official. None of the official responsibilities of Mr. Navarro’s positions included advising President Trump about the 2020 Presidential election or the roles and responsibilities of Congress and the Vice President during the January 6, 2021, joint session of Congress.”
The committee in February issued a subpoena to Navarro, who served as a trade adviser to Trump, alleging he developed plans to change the outcome of the election. Rather than reply to the subpoena, the report said Navarro, “predicted that his interactions with the Select Committee would be judged by the ‘Supreme Court, where this case is headed.'”
According to Sunday’s report, Navarro worked with “Bannon and others to develop and implement a plan to delay Congress’ certification and ultimately change the outcome of the November 2020 Presidential election.”
The report also said that Navarro detailed in his November 2021 book “In Trump Time” this plan, called the “Green Bay Sweep.” Navarro called this “the last, best chance to snatch a stolen election from Democrats’ jaws of deceit.” In a later interview about the book, Navarro said Trump was “on board with the strategy.”
The January 6 Select Committee has already formally recommended the U.S. House formally refer Bannon and Meadows for contempt of Congress prosecution. The House, by a majority vote that included nine Republicans, voted in favor of the referral.
Weeks later, the Justice Department charged Bannon, whoand pleaded not guilty. He is scheduled for trial in late July in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. His defense attorney told CBS News the defense expects to file a motion to dismiss the charge on April 8.
The Justice Department has not commented on the nature or results of its review of possible criminal charges against Meadows. The U.S. House, with a majority vote that included only two Republicans, approved the referral of Meadows for possible charges in mid-December. Three months later, no case has yet been filed.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, one of the two Republicans on the committee,that he is “not confident that Meadows has handed over everything at all.”
“He was cooperating with us for a little bit, and then, in an attempt to make Donald Trump happy, he stops cooperating,” Kinzinger said. “We gave him plenty of space to come back and resume that. He has not.”
Last week, CBS News chief election and campaign correspondent Robert Costa and Bob Woodward of The Washington Post obtained, the wife of Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas, that the House January 6 committee also possesses. In the texts, Ginni Thomas pushed Meadows to overturn the 2020 election.
Nikole Killion, Ellis Kim, Sara Cook and Zak Hudak contributed to this report.