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Jan. 6 Committee Releases Arguments for Why Ex-Trump Officials Peter Navarro and Dan Scavino Should Be Held in Criminal Contempt

 
Peter Navarro and Dan Scavino

Peter Navarro and Dan Scavino

Former President Donald Trump’s former trade advisor Peter Navarro and ex-social media director Daniel Scavino should be held in contempt of Congress, the committee investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol wrote in a 34-page report. Released on the eve of a meeting to initiate the referral process, the document details their communications and activities leading up to Jan. 6.

In arguing for the contempt referral, Jan. 6 Committee Chair Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) repeatedly cites Navarro’s book “In Trump Time.” Published late last year in November, Navarro described a plan that he called the “Green Bay Sweep” to overturn Trump’s defeat as the ‘‘last, best chance to snatch a stolen election from the Democrats’ jaws of deceit.’’ Though President Joe Biden won the 2020 election legitimately—as confirmed in dozens of court cases, recounts and audits—Trump and his loyalists still refuse to concede that fact.

“Green Bay Sweep”

On Feb. 9 of this year, the Jan. 6 Committee issued a subpoena for Navarro’s documents and testimony, seeking information on that strategy and other subjects. Navarro immediately stonewalled the request in a public statement.

“President Trump has invoked Executive Privilege; and it is not my privilege to waive,” Navarro wrote at the time, adding that he referred the panel to his remarks on the supposed “Green Bay Sweep” in his book.

Despite his refusal to talk the committee, Navarro appeared the next day on the show of MSNBC host Ari Melber. Navarro used that platform for “discussing subjects that were the focus of the Select Committee’s subpoena to him,” the report notes.

In addition to promoting false voter fraud claims in a three-part report on his personal website, Navarro reportedly worked with Trump’s legal team to pressure state legislators to overturn the election results. The Jan. 6 Committee says that they obtained evidence showing Navarro’s communications with key figures in Trump’s inner circle.

“In the days leading up to January 6, 2021, according to evidence obtained by the Select Committee, Mr. Navarro also encouraged Mark Meadows (and possibly others) to call Roger Stone to discuss January 6th,” the report states.

The Committee previously voted to hold Trump’s ex-chief of staff Meadows in contempt of Congress, though the Department of Justice has not yet taken any public action on that referral. Stone was pardoned by Trump at the end of the 45th president’s tenure on unrelated offenses.

“When Roger Stone appeared to testify before the Select Committee and was asked questions about the events of January 6th, he repeatedly invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination,” the report states.

In his book, Navarro also claimed to have worked with Steve Bannon on the so-called “Green Bay Sweep,” a plan borrowing from a football strategy employed by the Green Bay Packers’ legendary coach Vince Lombardi. The football play involved flooding the field with blockers to advance the ball. The electoral equivalent called for encouraging then-Vice President Mike Pence to delay the congressional certification and send the election back to the state legislatures. Bannon is awaiting trial for contempt of Congress, after the Justice Department indicted him following his referral by the House.

“Measurements for a Guillotine”

Scavino, who served as Trump’s social media director, was also known as the sometime-ghostwriter of the former president’s tweets, but the committee’s investigation appears to have led them beyond actions that Scavino allegedly took in that capacity. The report puts Scavino and Trump in steady contact during the attack on the U.S. Capitol.

“Mr. Scavino spoke with Mr. Trump multiple times by phone on January 6th, and was present with Mr. Trump during the period when Americans inside the Capitol building and across the country were urgently calling on Mr. Trump for help to halt the violence at the Capitol, but Mr. Trump failed to immediately take actions to stop it,” the report states.

“The Select Committee also has reason to believe that Mr. Scavino may have had advance warning of the possibility of violence on January 6th,” the report continues. “Public reporting notes that Mr. Scavino had a history of monitoring websites where, in the weeks leading up to January 6th, users discussed potential acts of violence.”

Paramount among the websites scrutinized by the committee in the report is TheDonald.win, a fanatically pro-Trump forum that began on Reddit before being expelled from that site. The committee said that the rhetoric on that forum ratcheted up on Dec. 19, 2020, after Trump promoted the Jan. 6 rally with his infamous tweet: “Be there, will be wild!

According to the report, users on TheDonald quickly concocted violent ways to make it wild.

“The ‘ensuing weeks of communications on the site included information on how to use a flagpole as a weapon, how to smuggle firearms into DC, measurements for a guillotine, and maps of the tunnel systems under the Capitol building,'” the report states. “On January 5, 2021, a user on TheDonald.win encouraged Mr. Trump’s supporters to ‘be prepared to secure the capitol building,’ claiming that ‘there will be plenty of ex military to guide you.'”

Among the hundreds charged in connection with the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol, several had been active or retired military or law enforcement members. Some were members of extremist militias, such as the Oath Keepers.

“Multiple other posts on TheDonald.win made it clear that the U.S. Capitol was a target, with one poster writing that people should bring ‘handcuffs and zip ties to DC’ so they could enact ‘citizen’s arrests’ of those officials who certified the election’s results,” the report states.

Men identified as Eric Gavelek Munchel (in black, hopping over rail), and Larry Rendell Brock (in combat helmet).

Men identified as Eric Gavelek Munchel (in black, hopping over rail), and Larry Rendell Brock (in combat helmet).

Multiple people charged in connection with the Jan. 6 breach were photographed carrying tactical restraints, claiming they had only foraged what police left behind them.

“Another post on TheDonald.win was headlined ‘most important map for January 6th. Form a TRUE LINE around the Capitol and the tunnels,’” the report notes. “That ‘post included a detailed schematic of Capitol Hill with the tunnels surrounding the complex high-lighted.’ One thread posted on TheDonald.win, and pertaining to Mr. Trump’s December 19, 2020, tweet, reportedly received more than ‘5,900 replies and over 24,000 upvotes.’ The ‘general consensus among the users’ on these threads ‘was that Trump had essentially tweeted permission to disregard the law in support of him.’ For example, one user wrote, ‘[Trump] can’t exactly openly tell you to revolt. This is the closest he’ll ever get.’”

The Jan. 6 Committee will hold a business meeting about whether to advance the contempt referral on Monday evening at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time.

Read the report, below:

(Photo of Navarro via Alex Wong/Getty Images; photo of Scavino by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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Law&Crime's managing editor Adam Klasfeld has spent more than a decade on the legal beat. Previously a reporter for Courthouse News, he has appeared as a guest on MSNBC, BBC, NPR, PBS, Sky News, and other networks.