The House voted Wednesday to retain two advisers to former President Trump, Peter Navarro and Dan Scavino, in contempt of Congress for defying subpoenas from the committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on Capitol Hill.
Lawmakers voted almost entirely along party lines, 220-203.
Reps. Liz Cheney (Wyo.) and Adam Kinzinger (Illinois), the two Republicans on the committee, were the only members of their party to support the resolution.
Navarro, Trump’s former trade adviser, and Scavino, Trump’s deputy chief of staff for communications, defied committee subpoenas and refused to testify or provide documents.
The vote will refer the charges to the Justice Department, which may choose to take further action.
Scavino was one of the first targets of the committee’s subpoena, seeking an interview with an aide who spent considerable time with the president on Jan. 6 and helped promote the rally.
Navarro was subpoenaed by the committee in February after passages from his own book appeared to show he was involved in plans to delay the certification of the presidential election.
Scavino and Navarro have stated that they cannot cooperate with the committee due to concerns about executive privilege. While Scavino was referenced in a letter from Trump’s attorney raising that issue, the former president has not done the same with Navarro.
President Biden has said he would not claim executive privilege for either.
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), a member of the Jan. 6 caucus who was also the top Democratic House prosecutor during Trump’s second impeachment trial, said the two men “completely ignored us.” and alluded to the multiple citations. delivered to Scavino.
“If 90 percent of success in life is simply showing up, then 90 percent of being in contempt of Congress is failing to show up by failing to respond to multiple subpoenas that have been lawfully served on you,” he said.
“The remainder of contempt is not turning over documents that you were ordered to produce and acting with open disregard and disregard for the rule of law, Congress and representatives of the American people.”
The House of Representatives earlier voted to hold two other former Trump advisers, former strategist Steve Bannon and former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, in contempt of Congress for refusing to cooperate with the committee.
But so far, the Justice Department has only acted on one of those recommendations, with Bannon facing trial this summer in a case that could mean up to two years in jail and $200,000 in fines.
A judge ruled at a pretrial hearing Wednesday that Bannon cannot argue that he relied on his attorney’s advice to challenge his subpoena from Congress.
It’s unclear whether the Justice Department will choose to act on Congress’s third and fourth recommendations for criminal charges. Attorney General Merrick Garland dismissed a question from reporters Wednesday about whether failure to follow such recommendations renders Congress ineffective in its investigations.
“We will follow the facts and the law wherever they lead us. We do not comment further on the investigations,” she said.
Republicans defending Scavino and Navarro emphasized the possible punishment both could face.
Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) noted that Scavino has children and asked his colleagues how they would explain such a sentence to their children.
“Messrs. Scavino has two children. He’s a good father, he doesn’t deserve this, his children definitely don’t deserve this. So before I vote today, I have to ask if someone here can explain to those children why their father deserves to be behind bars for a year,” Banks said.
“Contempt is not compliance; it is punishment. Contempt will not give the committee any information. Only the court can do that. But they don’t want to go to court. They don’t want neutral arbitration. They want political punishment.”
Cheney, whom Republicans ousted as their third-place leader last year for his rejection of Trump’s falsehoods about the 2020 election, accused fellow Republicans of abandoning their constitutional obligations.
“Those in this chamber who continue to embrace the former president and his dangerous and destructive lies should take a hard look at themselves,” Cheney said.
“At a time of real danger to our republic, when the need for fidelity to our Constitution is paramount, they have abandoned their oaths to perform for Donald Trump. That will be his legacy,” he added.
At one point in the debate, Raskin also made an emotional defense of Cheney and Kinzinger, saying that Democrats have been left to defend them while Republicans begin “the totally cannibalistic process of vilifying and punishing Republicans just because they disagree with orthodoxy, the delivered dogma”. by Donald Trump”.
“Because if you don’t agree with what Donald Trump is saying, if you don’t act like you’re a robot or a member of a religious cult, you will be attacked, you will be vilified, you will be denounced. These people, Mr. Kinzinger, Mrs. Cheney, are constitutional heroes and do not deserve your contempt. Insurgents and lawbreakers deserve your contempt, because they are acting in disregard of the rule of law and the Constitution of the United States,” Raskin said.
Despite the lack of cooperation from some prominent figures in the former president’s orbit, the committee recently obtained testimony from two of Trump’s closest advisers: his eldest daughter, Ivanka, and her husband, Jared Kushner.
According to multiple reports about Trump’s actions, or lack thereof, behind the scenes on January 6, Ivanka Trump was in communication with her father and top Republican officials as the Capitol was besieged by the mob of her supporters trying to prevent her from legislators will ratify the results of the presidential elections.
One of the main points of investigation for the committee has been uncovering Trump’s actions that day when GOP allies called for help while the Capitol was under attack by the violent mob. Apart from a series of tweets and a video in which he told his supporters to “go home” and “we love you, you are very special,” the official public record of Trump’s activities on January 6 remains at much unknown.
Overall, the committee has interviewed more than 800 witnesses to date.
While the committee is scheduled to automatically end at the end of the year unless extended by the majority party next January, Republicans used the debate over the bill to reaffirm their desire to finish its work.
“If anyone has acted like they’re above the law, it’s the select committee,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said on the House floor Wednesday.
“When we get the House back, it will stop.”