WASHINGTON: Lawmakers investigating the 2021 assault on the US Capitol were set to begin criminal contempt proceedings on Monday against two key allies of former president Donald Trump for refusing to testify.
Former trade director Peter Navarro and deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino were subpoenaed to appear before the congressional panel probing the January 6 riot, but didn’t show up. The committee, headed by a Democratic lawmaker with a Republican deputy, was expected to vote unanimously to approve a recommendation that the full House of Representatives cite the pair for criminal contempt of Congress.
The Democratic-controlled House will vote soon after to refer Navarro and Scavino to the Justice Department to consider charges. If successfully prosecuted, they would be facing several weeks of jail time.
Thousands of Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol last year in an effort to stop President Joe Biden’s election victory from being certified. They had been whipped up by Trump, whose fiery calls to march on Congress and “fight like hell” was the culmination of months of baseless fraud claims about a contest he lost fairly to Biden.
Scavino was the ex-president’s social media manager and they were together at the White House as the mob began its attack, according to investigators. Biden, who determines who has executive privilege, turned down an effort by the official to resist testifying via a privilege claim. Navarro has bragged about his role in organizing the Trump campaign’s effort to overturn the election result.