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DOJ declines to charge Meadows and Scavino with contempt of Congress

By Evan Perez, Ryan Nobles and Gloria Borger, CNN

The Department of Justice has informed the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, insurrection that it will not indict two former Trump White House officials found in contempt by the committee.

According to a source familiar with the notification, US Attorney Matt Graves notified Doug Letter, the House general counsel, that the Justice Department had completed its review and had decided it “will not be initiating prosecutions for criminal contempt, as requested in the referral against Messrs Meadows and Scavino.”

The New York Times first reported the news that Mark Meadows, former chief of staff to then-President Donald Trump, and Dan Scavino, former deputy chief of staff to Trump, won’t be prosecuted.

The decision by the Justice Department is a blow to the House panel’s efforts to enforce subpoenas related to its investigation and could embolden other Trump associates facing similar requests to not cooperate. It comes the same day that former White House trade adviser Peter Navarro was indicted for failing to cooperate with the committee.

Unlike Scavino and Meadows, however, Navarro openly defied the committee’s request and made no attempt to negotiate terms to comply. And the subpoenas of Meadows and Scavino were complicated.

Both officials served in high-level positions in the Trump West Wing and thus had more compelling cases for claiming executive privilege. Each also made an effort to cooperate with the committee at different points in its investigation. Meadows notably handed over thousands of pages of documents, including text messages that have become an important part of the committee’s work.

Scavino’s attorney Stan Brand applauded the decision in a statement to CNN, saying, “I’m grateful they (the Justice Department) exercised their discretion not to bring this case.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Justice declined to comment. A spokesperson for the January 6 select committee did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.

An attorney familiar with the Meadows and Scavino cases told CNN they were not surprised by the Justice Department’s decision. They argued that both men had engaged the committee, and that unlike Navarro and Steve Bannon, who have both been indicted, Scavino and Meadows had serious claims of privilege.

Navarro — who faces two contempt counts: one for his failure to produce documents demanded by the committee and the other for failing to show up for subpoenaed testimony before House investigators — is the second former Trump adviser to be indicted for criminal contempt of Congress for defying a January 6 committee subpoena. Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon faces a criminal trial later this summer.

The Justice Department has come under pressure from House Democrats and others on the left for not being more aggressive in its January 6 investigation, particularly as it concerns the role Trump and his inner circle played in seeking to overturn the 2020 presidential election and in making unfounded accusations of mass voter fraud that propelled the violent assault on the US Capitol.

There have been recent indications, however, that the department has ramped up its investigation into a scheme to put forward fraudulent slates of Trump-supporting electors in states that President Joe Biden won.

This story has been updated with additional details Friday.

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Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

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