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Trump allies held in contempt over silence in Capitol riot probe

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
White House adviser Peter Navarro leaves the West Wing carrying a poster board displaying claims of voting irregularity at the White House in Washington, US, January 15, 2021. (Reuters photo)

US lawmakers have recommended criminal contempt charges against two allies of former president Donald Trump for failing to cooperate with a House investigation into the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol.

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives voted to recommend that the US Department of Justice (DOJ) bring contempt charges against former White House trade advisor Peter Navarro and director of social media Dan Scavino Jr. for not complying with subpoenas issued by the January 6 committee.

"They have been given every opportunity to come forward, yet have attempted to obstruct the pursuit of justice and to stonewall the committee's work and conceal the truth," said Democratic panel member Elaine Luria.

Addressing the pair directly, she added: "My question remains: What are you covering up and who are you covering for?"

The nine-member select committee, headed by a Democratic lawmaker with a Republican deputy, backed the charges against the two men by a vote of 220-203.

Only two Republican lawmakers, Jan. 6 Select Committee members Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, voted in favor.

The vote refers the matter to the Department of Justice for a decision on whether to press criminal charges.

If successfully prosecuted, the two would face several weeks of prison time and possible fines of up to $100,000.

The committee is probing Trump's efforts to overturn his defeat in the November 2020 election as well as the help he got from Navarro, Scavino and others.

Scavino and Navarro have asserted their communications are protected by executive privilege, though many legal experts have argued that principle does not apply to former presidents.

On Jan. 6, 2021, thousands of Trump's supporters stormed the Capitol in a bid to prevent President Joe Biden's election victory from being certified.

Scavino was the ex-president's social media manager and they were together at the White House as the riot took place.

Navarro has bragged about his role in organizing the Trump campaign's effort to overturn the election result, telling cable channel MSNBC in January that their plan required over 100 lawmakers voting to send the results back to be decertified in six battleground states.

"Navarro has significant relevant knowledge. He's happy to share it on television and in podcasts, but he won't provide this information in response to a lawful subpoena," Democratic lawmaker Stephanie Murphy of Florida said on the floor of the House.

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