DOJ ACTION: One Trump admin official arrested for contempt of Congress, two get off without indictment
Amidst complaints of foot-dragging and selective prosecution, the Department of Justice has finally indicted Trump advisor Peter Navarro for refusing to comply with a subpoena from the House Select Committee investigating the January 6th insurrection while simultaneously announcing that it would not be pursuing indictments for two other Trump officials who were also referred to the DOJ for contempt of Congress charges by the committee.
Navarro, a 72-year-old economic advisor to Trump who was seen as the architect of the former president’s China trade policy, was arrested on Friday as he was about to board an airplane in Nashville. He reportedly was put in handcuffs and leg irons — in an unusual public arrest of a major political figure — before being brought before a judge for arraignment later in the day. Navarro was released after his arraignment and immediately began assailing the DOJ for its heavy-handed tactics.
"They intercepted me gettin' on the plane and then they put me in handcuffs, they bring me here. They put me in leg irons. They stick me in a cell."
— Former Trump adviser Peter Navarro on being charged for contempt of Congress for defying a January 6th Committee subpoena. pic.twitter.com/GOee9R3GUB
— The Recount (@therecount) June 3, 2022
It isn’t the least bit surprising that Navarro would attack the people prosecuting him for his failure to appear at a deposition with the congressional committee given the fact that the DOJ indictment against him includes two counts of criminal contempt of Congress each of which carries a maximum sentence of a year in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.
Navarro reportedly told the judge at his arraignment that the subpoena he defied was “illegal” and “unenforceable,” and parroted Trump propaganda that the entire case against him was the result of a vendetta by Democrats intent on destroying both Trump and himself.
“There are bigger things at play than whether I go to prison,” Navarro said. “And that’s why I’m standing here.”
He also complained about his being arrested so publicly at the airport rather than being offered the opportunity to turn himself into the DOJ authorities on his own.
“This is not the way that America is supposed to function,” he said. “They’re playing hardball.”
Cue the tiny violins.
While progressives and other anti-Trump partisans may cheer the fact that at least one Trump official is finally facing repercussions for their allegedly criminal behavior, the DOJ’s decision to not prosecute former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and former White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications Dan Scavino Jr. — also referred by Congress for criminal contempt for refusing to fully honor the congressional subpoenas issued to them — has raised the ire of many Democrats.
Matthew Graves, the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, sent a letter to Douglas Letter, the general counsel of the House, yesterday explaining the disparity in the prosecutorial decisions made for Navarro, Meadows, and Scavino.
“Upon 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 initiate a criminal prosecution,” Graves wrote to Letter. “Those investigations and analyses were conducted by and supervised by experienced prosecutors. Each referral has been analyzed individually based on the facts and circumstances of the alleged contempt developed through my office’s investigation.”
“Based on the individual facts and circumstances of their alleged contempt, my office will not be initiating prosecutions for criminal contempt as requested in the referral against Messrs. Meadows and Scavino,” Graves concluded. “My office’s review of each of the contempt referrals arising from the Jan. 6 committee’s investigation is complete.”
The DOJ’s explanation of their failure to indict Meadows and Scavino wasn’t enough for two of the most powerful members of the House Select Committee whose subpoena was violated. Congressman Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and Congresswoman Liz Cheney (R-WY) sought “greater clarity” on the DOJ’s thinking in its decision to drop the case against the two officials.
“We find the decision to reward Mark Meadows and Dan Scavino for their continued attack on the rule of law puzzling,” the two representatives said in a statement. “Mr. Meadows and Mr. Scavino unquestionably have relevant knowledge about President Trump’s role in the efforts to overturn the 2020 election and the events of Jan. 6.”
With the committee almost ready to begin public hearings that will disclose the results of their investigations so far, Americans will soon be able to judge for themselves how much more testimony might be needed to indict and prosecute those found to have planned, aided, and executed the violent invasion of the Capitol Building on January 6th, 2021.
Let’s hope that everyone involved gets the justice that they deserve.
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Original reporting by Alan Feuer and Luke Broadwater at The New York Times.
Vinnie Longobardo is the Managing Editor of Occupy Democrats. He's a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music, and art.