The Justice Department has declined to prosecute two of Donald Trump’s closest White House advisers — former chief of staff Mark Meadows and social media director Dan Scavino — for refusing to cooperate with the Jan. 6 select committee, rejecting the House’s recommendation that the pair be charged with contempt of Congress.
Matthew Graves, the U.S. Attorney for Washington D.C., delivered the news to House Counsel Douglas Letter earlier Friday, according to a person familiar with the correspondence.
The news came despite the Justice Department’s decision earlier in the day to unseal charges against former Trump White House trade adviser Peter Navarro with contempt of Congress for similarly defying the select committee’s demands. DOJ charged Trump ally Steve Bannon with contempt last year for refusing to engage with the select committee.
Navarro was still in the White House when Trump tried to overturn the election results, but Bannon was fired from Trump’s White House in August 2017, although he remained in contact with Trump in subsequent years.
Unlike Bannon and Navarro, Meadows and Scavino engaged in months-long negotiations with the select committee, haggling over the terms of potential testimony and the bounds of executive privilege. Meadows also turned over thousands of text messages and communications he had with members of Congress and other White House advisers.
The select committee opted to pursue contempt charges against Meadows and Scavino, however, after the negotiations failed to result in plans for either of them to testify. Meadows had been scheduled for a December deposition but withdrew at the last moment
Meadows’ attorney George Terwillger III did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Scavino’s attorney Stan Brand did not immediately comment on the news. The U.S. Attorney’s office for Washington D.C. declined to comment.
Though House Democrats welcomed the decision to charge Bannon and Navarro, both were somewhat ancillary figures in Trump’s orbit during the former president’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election. Meadows and Scavino, however, played central roles and were at Trump’s side as a mob attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 in support of his effort to prevent the transfer of power.
The New York Times first reported the Justice’s Department’s decision not to charge Meadows and Scavino with contempt of Congress.
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