DOJ will not charge Meadows, Scavino for refusal in Jan. 6 committee probe: report
The Department of Justice (DOJ) will not be charging former Trump White House officials Mark Meadows and Dan Scavino for refusing to cooperate with the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot, The New York Times reported, which cited a letter it reviewed on the matter as well as people familiar with the prosecutors’ decision.
The Friday letter that the Times reviewed was communication between U.S. Attorney Matthew Graves and House General Counsel Douglas Letter, the latter of whom was told about officials’ decision, according to the newspaper.
“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 wrote in his message to Letter, according to the Times. “My office’s review of each of the contempt referrals arising from the Jan. 6 committee’s investigation is complete.”
It is a huge development given that former Trump White House adviser Peter Navarro was indicted by a federal grand jury earlier on Friday, and had been voted to be held in contempt of Congress alongside Scavino, a former deputy chief of staff for communications for former President Trump, in April.
“We are grateful that DOJ exercised its sound discretion to decline prosecution given the substantial legal issues affecting the validity of the Jan 6 committee subpoena,” Stan Brand, an attorney for Scavino, said in an email to The Hill.
But Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and Vice Chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) said in a joint statement released Friday night that they found the Justice Department’s decision regarding Scavino and Meadows “puzzling” and expressed that they wanted clarification around the department’s decision.
“If the Department’s position is that either or both of these men have absolute immunity from appearing before Congress because of their former positions in the Trump Administration, that question is the focus of pending litigation,” they wrote. “As the Select Committee has argued in District Court, Mark Meadows’s claim that he is entitled to absolute immunity is not correct or justified based on the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel Memoranda. No one is above the law.”
Navarro and Scavino, both subpoenaed, who would not offer documents or testify in front of the House select committee. The House voted to hold Meadows, a former White House chief of staff, in contempt of Congress last December for refusing to sit for an interview or deposition, although he had provided thousands of pages of documents.
“Who are these people,” Navarro said during his court hearing on Friday. “This is not America. I mean, I was a distinguished public servant for four years and nobody ever questioned my ethics. And they’re treating me in this fashion.”
The developments come as the House select committee gets ready to hold its first public hearing on June 9 during prime time, indicating that not all witnesses will or may want to cooperate with the committee before they wrap up their probe.
The Hill has reached out to the Department of Justice, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office and attorneys for Meadows and Scavino for comment.
Updated: 10:43 p.m.