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Jan. 6 panel votes to recommend contempt charges against Dan Scavino, Peter Navarro

The committee recommended the former Trump White House aides be found in contempt of Congress after they defied subpoenas requesting information about Jan. 6.

WASHINGTON (CN) — The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection voted Monday night to recommend contempt charges against former Trump White House aides Dan Scavino and Peter Navarro over their months-long evasion of the panel's subpoenas.

The nine-member panel voted unanimously to recommend the two former Trump administration officials be held in contempt of Congress, putting the ball in the House's court to vote on contempt charges. If the House votes to support such a move, the Department of Justice would make the final call on whether or not to file criminal charges.

Scavino, a communications aide, and Navarro, Trump's former trade advisor, were previously called on by the panel to testify and turn over documents related to the investigation of the Jan. 6 insurrection, but the committees says both men have evaded complying with its requests.

The panel extended the deadline for Scavino to comply with a subpoena six separate times but he never turned over any information to the committee, according to a report released by the panel Sunday night.

Working on Trump's communication team, the panel's report says Scavino monitored references to Trump on social media, including Reddit, in the lead up to the insurrection and "may have had advance warning of the possibility of violence on January 6th."

"Mr. Scavino reportedly attended several meetings with the President in which challenges to the election were discussed. Mr. Scavino also tracked social media on behalf of President Trump, and he did so at a time when sites reportedly frequented by Mr. Scavino suggested the possibility of violence on January 6th," the report says.

Scavino, one of the longest serving aides to Trump, also had conversations with the then-president on Jan. 5 and Jan 6. and "was party to conversations regarding plans to challenge, disrupt, or impede the official congressional proceedings," as Congress prepared to certify Joe Biden's win in the 2020 presidential election, according to the report.

On Jan. 2, 2021, mere days before Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to thwart the lawful transfer of power, Scavino tweeted out a video encouraging people to "Be a Part of History" and "Join the March," the report says.

Navarro was subpoenaed by the panel in early February over his role in concocting a plan to contest the 2020 election results in swing states won by Biden as a means of delaying the certification of the election. The strategy was dubbed "the Green Bay Sweep," and outlined in Navarro's recent memoir "In Trump Time."

During an interview with the Daily Beast, Navarro said that Trump and "more than 100" members of Congress backed the plan. He later went on Steve Bannon's podcast and called the former White House strategist, who has been charged with criminal contempt for defying a subpoena from the congressional committee, "the hero of Jan. 6."

“Because you have already discussed these and other relevant issues in your recently published book, in interviews with reporters, and, among other places, on a podcast, we look forward to discussing them with you, too,” Representative Bennie Thompson, chairman of the Jan. 6 committee, wrote in a letter to Navarro at the time of his subpoena.

Navarro espoused unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud in the election and, in his book, described this as the “last, best chance to snatch a stolen election from the Democrats’ jaws of deceit," per the letter.

He has claimed that he is exempt from testifying due to Trump's assertions of executive privilege, though Biden, the sitting president, has not asserted any such claims that would bar Navarro from testifying.

“If he waived 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," Navarro said in a statement to the Associated Press on Sunday.

"If the ex-president has a legitimate claim to executive privilege, this is a privilege that applies to things that happen in an official capacity. So if Mr. Scavino and Mr. Navarro are claiming that all that the information they have is protected by executive privilege, they are basically saying that everything they did, they did in their official roles paid by taxpayers," Thompson said during the panel's meeting Monday night.

Democratic Representative Adam Schiff of California urged Attorney General Merrick Garland to back their recommendations.

"If no one is above the law, then no one must be above the law. We are upholding our responsibility. The Department of Justice must do the same," Schiff said Monday night.

This marks the fourth time the committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack has moved to hold defiant witnesses in contempt. The Justice Department has charged Bannon with two counts of contempt of Congress and Mark Meadows, Trump's former chief of staff, was recommended by the committee to be charged criminally for his reluctance to cooperate, though the Justice Department has not taken legal action against Meadows.

The committee also recommended Jeffrey Clark, a Justice Department official, for contempt charges, but Clark later agreed to testify and plead his Fifth Amendment rights in response to committee inquiries.

Earlier on Monday, the congressional committee won a major legal victory when a federal judge in California ordered Trump attorney and law professor John Eastman to turn over more than 100 emails to the panel.

The bombshell of the judge's order was the finding that it is "more likely than not" that Trump and Eastman committed crimes during Trump's desperate attempt to stay in power and stop the certification of Biden's win in the 2020 presidential election.

“The illegality of the plan was obvious. Our nation was founded on the peaceful transition of power, epitomized by George Washington laying down his sword to make way for democratic elections,” U.S. District Judge David Carter wrote in a 44-page order. “Ignoring this history, President Trump vigorously campaigned for the vice president to single-handedly determine the results of the 2020 election. As Vice President Pence stated, ‘no vice president in American history has ever asserted such authority.’ Every American — and certainly the president of the United States — knows that in a democracy, leaders are elected, not installed."

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