WASHINGTON — Justice Department officers mentioned Friday that prosecutors wouldn’t file legal contempt of Congress prices in opposition to Mark Meadows, who served as White House chief of staff throughout former President Donald Trump’s final 10 months in workplace.
The division additionally declined to prosecute Dan Scavino, who was deputy chief of staff, the DOJ officers mentioned.
The selections had been a defeat for the House committee investigating the Capitol riot. After each Trump officers refused to honor the panel’s subpoenas, the committee discovered them in contempt of Congress and referred the circumstances to the U.S. lawyer in Washington, D.C., for prosecution.
But even when prosecutors had charged them and obtained convictions, it will not have required them to cooperate with the committee. It would merely have punished them for his or her refusal.
A senior Justice Department official mentioned the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, Matthew Graves, notified the committee of its conclusions. The selections had been based mostly “on the person details and circumstances of their alleged contempt,” in accordance to the official.
Meadows was “uniquely located to present important details about the occasions of January 6,” the committee mentioned in searching for his cooperation, in addition to efforts taken by public officers and personal people to unfold the false message of widespread fraud within the 2020 presidential election. He was “with or within the neighborhood of” Trump when phrase of the riot on the Capitol reached the White House, it mentioned.
The New York Times beforehand reported the division’s choice not to pursue prices in opposition to the 2 Trump officers.
The Justice Department didn’t clarify intimately why prosecutors declined to cost Meadows. But not like Steve Bannon, who was charged in November with contempt for refusing to cooperate with the committee, Meadows cooperated to some extent. He produced paperwork that he mentioned weren’t protected by govt privilege and provided to testify to non-privileged issues.
Another issue could have been a long-standing view by the Justice Department that it will be unconstitutional to prosecute a former govt department official who asserted govt privilege in good religion.
In discovering Meadows in contempt, the committee mentioned he refused to testify even about issues that weren’t privileged and that he had mentioned in his e book and tv interviews. It additionally mentioned he wrongly asserted govt privilege over issues that weren’t official authorities enterprise, similar to campaign-related conversations in regards to the election outcomes.
Reps. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., who lead the House committee investigating the Capitol riot, questioned the Justice Department’s choice not to act on the referrals for Meadows and Scanvino.
“We discover the choice to reward Mark Meadows and Dan Scavino for his or her continued assault on the rule of legislation puzzling,” they mentioned in a press release Friday.
“We hope the Department supplies larger readability on this matter,” the lawmakers added. “As the Select Committee has argued in District Court, Mark Meadows’s declare that he’s entitled to absolute immunity isn’t appropriate or justified based mostly on the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel Memoranda. No one is above the legislation.”
Earlier Friday, former Trump White House adviser Peter Navarro was arrested at an airport on contempt of Congress prices — allegations he vowed to combat.
Navarro, 72, was indicted by a federal grand jury Thursday after snubbing a subpoena from the House committee investigating Jan. 6 searching for testimony and paperwork.
Zoë Richards contributed.