Looks Like Dan Scavino And Peter Navarro Will Get Contempt Of Congress Referrals They've Begged For
Trump comms flack Dan Scavino and quack of all trades Peter Navarro have been dodging subpoenas from the January 6 Select Committee for months. But this evening appears to be Find Out-Thirty for Scabbers and the Nutty Professor, when the Committee meets to vote on a contempt referral to the wider Congress.
The contempt of Congress referral resolution details the back-and-forth between these two dipshits and the Committee since early fall, when the subpoenas dropped. After the election, Navarro drafted a widely disseminated treatise entitled "The Navarro Report," which proved through math — er, "math" — that it was simply unpossible for Joe Biden to have taken such a disproportionate share of absentee ballots, despite everyone having predicted it for months. On January 2, 2021, he got on the phone with Donald Trump and hundreds of state legislators, whom he instructed, ‘‘Your job, I believe, is to take action, action, action. . . The situation is dire.’’ And he bragged in his idiotic post-White House book about cahoots-ing with Steve Bannon to ratfuck the Electoral College and steal the election in a plan they dubbed "The Green Bay Sweep."
None of this is covered by executive privilege, since none of it was part of Navarro's White House job as trade adviser. Nevertheless, Navarro fired off a nastygram to the Committee on his own letterhead law-splaining executive privilege (he's not a lawyer), and went on television to tell Ari Melber (who is a lawyer) that the Committee members are domestic terrorists trying to discover something that is both part of the public record in his book, and also top secret executive privilege stuff.
Melber was mad impressed.
\u201cDo you realize you are describing a coup?\u201dpic.twitter.com/Sl8ANp9SoF— Acyn (@Acyn) 1641342272
In its referral, the Committee notes that it "does not seek documents or testimony from Mr. Navarro related to his official duties," that those official duties certainly did not involve "researching or promoting claims of election fraud," and that "federal law did not allow Mr. Navarro to use his official office to attempt to affect the outcome of an election."
And if there ever was a privilege attached to Navarro's conversations with Trump in the White House, the Committee argues that it has certainly been waived by Navarro's constant blabbing about it.
[A]ny claim of executive privilege and the need to maintain confidentiality is severely undermined, if not entirely vitiated, by Mr. Navarro’s extensive public disclosure of his communications with the former President, including on issues directly implicated by the Select Committee’s subpoena. Mr. Navarro’s recently published book described his efforts to overturn the 2020 election and several meetings with then-President Trump about those efforts. The day after he was served with the Select Committee subpoena, Mr. Navarro appeared on national television to discuss the subpoena and his efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Mr. Navarro’s public disclosures relating to the very subjects of interest to the Select Committee foreclose a claim of executive privilege with respect to those disclosures.
Moreover, you still have to show up and either claim privilege or plead the Fifth, as Mike Flynn and Roger Stone did, having both gotten the sharp end of the law enforcement stick and therefore presumably not wishing to get poked again. And you have to produce a privilege log, which Navarro has refused to do, preferring to gesture vaguely in the direction of privilege while giving the Committee two middle fingers and going on Steve Bannon's podcast in his little muscle tee shirt trying to pass himself off as Jason Bourne.
"Mr. Navarro’s assertion cannot be valid because the Select Committee has not been provided with any invocation of executive privilege—whether formal or informal—by the former President," the Committee notes. "In any event, Mr. Navarro’s second-hand, categorical assertion of privilege, without any description of the specific documents or specific testimony over which privilege is claimed, is insufficient to activate a claim of executive privilege."
But Navarro has an answer for that, and it is to insist that he knows how to law more goodly than the Committee. "If he waived the privilege, I will be happy to comply; but I see no effort by the Committee to clarify this matter with President Trump, which is bad faith and bad law.” he told the AP.
And Then There Was Dan Scavino
Scavino was at least smart enough to hire Stanley Woodward Jr., a longtime, competent DC lawyer. Woodward seems to be trying to execute the same play as Steve Bannon's lawyer Robert Costello, only without fucking it up and getting his client charged with contempt of Congress by the Justice Department. We'll see how that play works out, since tonight the Committee will probably agree to give Congress a vote on a criminal contempt referral to the DOJ for his client, and for Navarro's (fool for a) "client," too. Whether that results in charges being filed is unclear — it's been three months since they dumped Mark Meadows on the DOJ, and Attorney General Merrick Garland hasn't said a word yet.
In short, Costello relied on general language about privilege from Trump's lawyer Justin Clark to justify a blanket refusal to cooperate with the Committee. In an October 6, 2021, letter, Clark told Bannon to "where appropriate, invoke any immunities he may have" from compelled testimony and document production, "to the fullest extent permitted by law." He later clarified that he had never intended to suggest "that we believe there is immunity from testimony for your client." He added, "As I indicated to you the other day, we don’t believe there is."
The Committee describes Scavino trying to run the same play, referring to a letter from Clark instructing him to ‘‘invoke any immunities and privileges you may have from compelled testimony,’’ ‘‘not produce any documents concerning your official duties,’’ and ‘‘not provide any testimony concerning your official duties.’’
But, as the Committee notes, Scavino ran comms for both the White House and Trump campaign simultaneously, and can't use his position in the former to cover up for what he did in the latter.
"The law is clear that executive privilege does not extend to discussions relating to non-governmental business or among private citizens," they write, adding that they know from media reports that Scavino habitually monitored the netherbits of the internet, such as subreddits like TheDonald.win, where plans for the violent insurrection were discussed.
On December 19, 2020, the same day Mr. Trump tweeted ‘‘Big protest in D.C. on January 6th . . . Be there, will be wild!,’’ users on posts on TheDonald.win, began sharing ‘‘specific techniques, tactics, and procedures for the assault on the Capitol.’’ The ‘‘ensuing weeks of communications on the site included information on how to use a flagpole as a weapon, how to smuggle firearms into DC, measurements for a guillotine, and maps of the tunnel systems under the Capitol building.’’ On January 5, 2021, a user on TheDonald.win encouraged Mr. Trump’s supporters to ‘‘be prepared to secure the capitol building,’’ claiming that ‘‘there will be plenty of ex military to guide you.’’
None of that is part of his official duties, and none of it can be plausibly described as falling under the rubric of executive privilege.
So tonight's meeting of the Committee should be wild, particularly since Members have taken advantage of the last few public events to drop a bunch of chum in the water. Remember when they read a bunch of embarrassing texts from Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, and Brian Kilmeade to Mark Meadows, trying to manage Trump and get him to call of the rioters? A lot of people Scavino and that loon Navarro have been chatty with have cooperated with the Committee, so this could be fun.
How you livin', Ginni Thomas?
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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.