Jan. 6 Roundup: Contempt Referrals For Scavino And Navarro, Ivanka Spills, Merrick Garland On The Case
Time to check in with the January 6 Select Committee, which is still humming merrily along.
Last week, after flapping their yaps on television for a year about bringing the perpetrators to justice, the light bulb seems to have gone off over at the Rayburn building that Attorney General Merrick Garland is not about to slap the handcuffs on Donald Trump and his minions just because the Committee members tell him to. In fact, the only effect of their constant yammering seems to be to provide Republicans with fodder for claims that the Committee is a political entity engaged in illegitimate prosecutorial activity, as upwards of a dozen plaintiffs have alleged in suits seeking to block subpoenas for testimony or documents.
And since it ain't helping, Politico is now reporting that the Committee is considering not making a criminal referral to the Justice Department of Trump or his aides for their role in fomenting the Capitol riot, particularly in light of two recent events.
Firstly, last week US District Judge David Carter ruled that Trump likely committed criminal obstruction of Congress, so the Committee is now leaning toward putting all the evidence on the record for the public, and leaving the charging decision to Garland. On top of that, we now know there's a federal grand jury in DC investigating the scheme to swear in fraudulent electors in swing states, which is proof that Garland doesn't need Congress to shout "Do something!" at him before he'll act. (Although he could do something about that 100-day-old contempt referral for Mark Meadows, and we wouldn't be mad.)
“A referral doesn’t mean anything,” Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren told Politico. “It has no legal weight whatsoever, and I’m pretty sure the Department of Justice has read [last week’s] opinion, so they don’t need us to tell them that it exists.”
“Whether we make a referral or not, I think that as the judge pointed out, there is credible evidence that the former President is engaged in criminal conduct,” Rep. Adam Schiff agreed. “And I don’t think that can be ignored by the Justice Department.”
Which doesn't mean they're going cold turkey on the referrals. On Monday, Chair Bennie Thompson and Vice Chair Liz Cheney testified to the Rules Committee on contempt referrals for Trumpland comms flack Dan Scavino and econ loon Peter Navarro. Both refused to cooperate, flatly refusing to appear or turn over any documents, and claiming Trump had invoked executive privilege over all their communications, even those with figures outside the White House.“
“At this point in our investigation, there’s a mounting body of legal rulings rejecting the ex-President’s claim of executive privilege. That makes Mr. Scavino’s claim thin to begin with," Thompson testified. "Mr. Navarro's are even thinner, as he has produced no evidence that the former President has even attempted to invoke executive privilege about anything related to his former trade advisor – either directly or indirectly."
"Mr. Navarro will also be a key witness. He has written a book boasting about his role in planning and coordinating the activity of January 6th, and yet, as the Chairman noted, he does not have the courage to testify here," Cheney said, adding that “We have many questions for Mr. Navarro—including about his communications with Roger Stone and Steve Bannon regarding the planning for January 6th."
The Rules Committee approved the contempt resolution on a party line vote, teeing up the measure to go before the full House soon.
Then yesterday Ivanka Trump testified before the January 6 Committee for eight hours. According to Chair Thompson, she invoked neither executive privilege nor the Fifth Amendment. It's puzzling — to say the least! — that Trump's own daughter failed to adopt the maximalist stance toward privilege taken by so many of his lesser advisers.
It's possible the Committee worked out some deal to secure her appearance whereby they agreed not to ask about specific topics. But assuming that's not the case, then she was able to tell them exactly what Trump did in the White House on January 6 when he wasn't calling off the mob as it ransacked the Capitol. If anyone is able to connect Trump to a plot to obstruct Congress, it's Ivanka. And, oh, by the by, her husband Jared also testified last week.
Wouldn't it be poetry if Princess Goya von Nepotism and the Royal Consort, for whom every protocol was broken and who were granted security clearances they never qualified for, are the ones who give the Old Man up in the end?
A girl can dream ...
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.