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January 6 Recap: Committee Ratchets Up the Pressure on Two Key Trumpies

Peter Navarro and Dan Scavino may be held in contempt of Congress. And Liz Cheney promises some big-time findings as the committee preps for hearings.

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call
This is Dan Scavino’s happy face.

Here’s what happened this week

On Thursday, the January 6 committee announced that it would hold a hearing next week to consider whether to recommend Congress hold Peter Navarro and Dan Scavino in contempt of Congress.

Scavino was the Trump White House deputy chief of staff for communications. He’s been one of the most comically slippery former Trump staffers under the committee’s scrutiny. Last October, his attorney said he was not ready to cooperate with the committee. Then the committee served him with a subpoena, but it had trouble even doing that, with a process server trying to deliver it to him at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort only to have a staff member accept it on Scavino’s behalf, saying he was in New York at the time. The committee has said that it believes Scavino has “knowledge regarding the communications strategy of the former President and his supporters leading up to the events on January 6.”

“As the Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications, reporting indicates that you were with the former President on January 5 when he and others were considering how to convince Members of Congress not to certify the election for Joe Biden,” the committee’s subpoena letter to Scavino read.

Navarro, meanwhile, is the former Trump administration director of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy. Navarro reportedly worked with Steve Bannon and other Trump allies and aides at a January 5 meeting at Trump International Hotel in Washington to craft a plan to stall Congress from certifying Biden’s victory in becoming the forty-sixth president of the United States.

“He hasn’t been shy about his role in efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election and has even discussed the former President’s support for those plans,” January 6 committee Chairman Bennie Thompson said in a statement accompanying Navarro’s subpoena letter.

Bannon is among those who have already been subpoenaed by the committee—and snubbed his nose at it.

Most of the January 6 committee’s work happened behind closed doors this week as the panel prepares for its upcoming spring public hearings, which are expected to happen sometime in May (no list of witnesses yet). The committee has interviewed more than 80 law enforcement officials and members from federal agencies on the events of January 6, 2021, according to CNN. Those interviews have been conducted by the committee’s “blue team,” which is the subgroup of the committee charged with learning more about the threats that resulted in the attacks.

Members of the committee have made clear throughout this week and past weeks that their findings and reports will reveal new information about the events of January 6 and the circumstances leading up to it. Congresswoman Liz Cheney said as much during a recent interview with NBC. She also stressed that the primary mission of the committee is to make recommendations.

Congressman and committee member Jamie Raskin echoed her. “We really need to bear down on those things that we think need to be done, from strengthening the windows, so they’re unbreakable, all the way up to the potential reforms of the Electoral Count Act and protection of the right to vote,” Raskin told CNN. “We need to spend some real time talking about the policy recommendations and dimensions of this.”

Note: Republicans have started their own investigation into the January 6 attack and will compile their own set of recommendations. The premise of that report is that the January 6 committee is actually just a group of Democrats out to ding Donald Trump (never mind that the official January 6 panel actually does have two Republicans on it).

Whom to watch?

Congressman Mo Brooks. Hear me out here. If you haven’t been following the Alabama Senate race like cool kids like me, you’ll have missed Trump withdrawing his endorsement for Brooks. Brooks, in statements and interviews, said Trump had previously pushed him to “rescind” the 2020 election, “immediately remove Joe Biden from the White House, immediately put President Trump back in the White House, and hold a new special election for the presidency.”

It’s not clear exactly why Trump thought Brooks in particular could stall or have a major hand in reversing a presidential election, as Brooks isn’t on any committee that is nearly relevant here. But what’s important is that Brooks, usually a huge Trump fan, has come forward to say publicly that Trump was asking him—months after Biden was already in the White House!—to do something that would pretty clearly be illegal.

The committee has yet to subpoena a member of Congress in its investigation, but comments like that make a strong case for doing so. The committee has asked Congressmen Scott Perry and Jim Jordan to answer questions, and both lawmakers have declined its invitations. Committee members have said subpoenaing their colleagues in Congress is still a possibility, but they have yet to issue formal subpoenas. Doing so gets complicated. There are laws that lawmakers could cite in court to resist obeying a subpoena, and there could be a “boomerang” effect of Republicans using subpoenas if they regain the majority in the House of Representatives in the 2020 midterms.

Further reading

  • As the January 6 committee conducts its investigation, it also has to make sure the public cares about what it’s finding, The Washington Post’s Jacqueline Alemany and Josh Dawsey report.
  • Couy Griffin, a New Mexico county commissioner who illegally entered the Capitol grounds on January 6, 2021, will be sentenced in June, according to the Associated Press.
  • Hunter Walker reports for Rolling Stone that a witness is claiming then–White House chief of staff Mark Meadows was on a phone call planning the January 6 march on the Capitol. This came out the same week the Post reported that Meadows’s wife, Debra, filed not one but two false voter forms, including one that claimed her residence was a hilltop mobile home in North Carolina. Bad week in the Meadows household—wherever it really is.

Best quote of the week on January 6

“We’re looking at things like, do we need additional enhanced criminal penalties for the kind of supreme dereliction of duty that you saw with President Trump when he refused to tell the mob to go home after he had provoked that attack on the Capitol?” Cheney said during an appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday. “So there will be legislative recommendations, and there certainly will be new information.”