Navarro charged as Justice Department chooses not to charge Meadows and Scavino

A federal grand jury on Friday indicted Peter Navarro, a White House adviser to former President Donald J. Trump, with failing to comply...


A federal grand jury on Friday indicted Peter Navarro, a White House adviser to former President Donald J. Trump, with failing to comply with a subpoena from the House committee investigating the attack on the Capitol, even as the Justice Department refused to indict Mark Meadows and Dan. Scavino Jr., two other senior officials who also refused to cooperate.

The indictment against Mr. Navarro, handed over to the federal district court in Washington, marked the first time that an official who served in Mr. Trump’s White House during the events of January 6, 2021, has been charged as part of the investigation into the attack.

Prosecutors charged Navarro, 72, with what amounted to a felony misdemeanor for failing to appear for a deposition or provide documents to congressional investigators in response to a summons issued by the House committee on February 9. The indictment includes two counts of criminal contempt of Congress that each carry a maximum sentence of one year in prison, as well as a fine of up to $100,000.

The Justice Department declined to take similar action against Mr. Meadows, Mr. Trump’s last chief of staff, and Mr. Scavino, the deputy chief of staff, according to people familiar with the prosecutors’ decision and a letter reviewed by the New York Times. inform the first legal adviser of the House.

“Based on the individual facts and circumstances of their alleged contempt, my office will not be pursuing criminal contempt proceedings as requested in the dismissal against Messrs. Meadows and Scavino,” said Matthew M. Graves, U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, wrote Douglas N. Letter, the House General Counsel, on Friday. “My office’s review of each of the contempt referrals resulting from the January 6 committee investigation is complete.”

Mr. Meadows and Mr. Scavino – who have been deeply involved in efforts to overturn the 2020 election – engaged in weeks of negotiations with committee lawyers, and Mr. Meadows handed over 9,000 documents to the panel, before that the House does not vote. to charge them with contempt.

By contrast, Mr. Navarro and his ally Stephen K. Bannon, who was also held in contempt, fought the committee’s subpoenas from day one and never entered into negotiations.

Asked for comment, Mr Meadows’ lawyer, George J. Terwilliger III, said: “The result speaks for itself.”

A Justice Department spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A lawyer for Mr. Scavino declined to comment.

In a statement, committee leaders applauded Navarro’s indictment, but urged the Justice Department to provide “greater clarity” on its rationale for not indicting Mr. Meadows or Mr. Scavino.

“We find the decision to reward Mark Meadows and Dan Scavino for their continued attack on the rule of law puzzling,” said the leaders, Reps. Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi, and Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming. “Mr. Meadows and Mr. Scavino undoubtedly have relevant knowledge of President Trump’s role in the effort to overturn the 2020 election and the events of January 6.

For his part, Mr. Navarro appeared in court on Friday afternoon, speaking on his own behalf and telling a federal magistrate that the congressional subpoena served on him was “illegal” and “unenforceable.” “.

At the hearing, he presented himself as a victim of an unjust system run by Democrats bent on destroying him and Mr. Trump.

“There are more important things at stake than going to jail,” Navarro said. “And that’s why I’m standing here.”

He also complained that although he lives near FBI headquarters, federal agents stopped him at the door of a plane on his way to Nashville.

“That’s not how America is supposed to work,” he continued, adding, “They’re playing hardball.”

A former White House trade adviser who went to great lengths to keep Mr Trump in power after the 2020 election, Mr Navarro is the second former high-ranking presidential aide to be charged with contempt of Congress for challenging a subpoena from the committee. Mr Bannona former top Trump aide, was indicted in November on similar charges.

The indictment against Mr. Navarro came nearly two months after the House voted mostly along party lines for recommend criminal charges against him. The same vote also recommended a contempt indictment against Mr. Scavino.

The House voted in January to recommend that Mr. Meadows be charged with contempt.

“After receiving each referral, my office conducted a thorough investigation and analysis of the individualized facts and circumstances surrounding each contempt allegation to determine whether to pursue criminal charges,” Mr. Graves wrote to Mr. Letter. “These investigations and analyzes were conducted and supervised by experienced prosecutors. Each referral was analyzed individually based on the facts and circumstances of the alleged contempt developed through my office’s investigation.

The Subpoena that Mr. Navarro received searched for documents and testimony about an attempt to nullify the election that he called a “Green Bay sweep.” The plan called on lawmakers in key swing states to team up with Republican members of Congress and the vice president Mike Pence reject the results that showed Joseph R. Biden Jr. had won the election and give the victory to Mr. Trump.

The subpoena also mentioned a call Mr. Navarro participated in with Mr. Trump and his lawyers on Jan. 2, 2021, in which they tried to persuade hundreds of state lawmakers to join the effort.

Mr. Navarro also penned a 36-page report claiming the voter fraud was part of what he called an “immaculate deception” that he said he made sure to hand out to Republican members of Congress.

There is no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election, and the Jan. 6 committee described the claims in Mr. Navarro’s report as having been “discredited in public reporting, by state officials and courts”.

The indictment comes days after Navarro filed a lawsuit against the House committee, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, in which he questioned the authority and validity of the survey.

In the lawsuit, Mr Navarro also revealed that he had recently received another subpoena, this one from a federal grand jury in Washington. That subpoena asked him for documents related to any communication he may have had with Mr. Trump or his lawyers.

Mr. Navarro claimed this because Mr. Trump claimed executive privilege to prohibit the disclosure of information requested by the January 6 investigators, he is prevented from complying with the subpoena. Prosecutors were most likely interested in the degree of close contact Mr. Navarro had with the former president or his attorneys in order to assess that defense against the contempt of Congress charge.

“I cannot waive the executive privilege invoked by President Trump,” Navarro has repeatedly said.

Mr. Bannon also sought to argue that he did not have to comply with his own subpoena because of Mr. Trump’s claims of executive privilege. A trial in his case is tentatively scheduled for July.

Mr. Bannon argues that the committee is not a legitimate but politically motivated investigative body, citing the fact that two of its members have written books that presuppose who is responsible for the Capitol riot even though the investigation is n is not over.

Although contempt of Congress charges are rarely brought, the cases filed against Mr. Navarro and Mr. Bannon suggest that the Justice Department is prepared to take a tough stance against at least some of Mr. Trump’s former aides who blocked the efforts of the committee.

The decision not to indict Mr. Meadows and Mr. Scavino indicates that there are limits to this approach, particularly with regard to senior White House officials who might more plausibly claim that their communications with the President were privileged.

The charges against Mr. Navarro come at a politically sensitive time: a week before the committee is set to begin a series of high-profile hearings into its findings.

Mr. Navarro has taken an aggressive stance toward the committee, particularly toward its Democratic members. In his lawsuit, he promised revenge against Democrats if Republicans regain the White House and Congress in 2024.

“If I’m not dead or in jail,” he wrote, “I will lead the charge.”

During his court hearing, Mr. Navarro expressed a similar disregard for the legal process.

A federal magistrate, Zia M. Faruqui, released him with a standard set of conditions, mostly simple restrictions on Mr. Navarro’s travel privileges, noting that he understood the defendant was frustrated with them.

Mr. Navarro dismissed the idea that he was frustrated.

“I am, let’s say, disappointed in our republic,” he said.

Maggie Haberman contributed report.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Navarro charged as Justice Department chooses not to charge Meadows and Scavino
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