The Democrat-led U.S. House of Representatives approved “contempt of Congress” charges on Wednesday against Peter Navarro and Daniel Scavino, former aides to Donald Trump, for failing to cooperate with the probe into the attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Navarro, who was a top trade adviser to the former president, and Scavino, who was a deputy chief of staff, did not comply with subpoenas to appear before the House Select Committee probing the Jan. 6, 2021, attack.
House members backed the charges against the two men by 220 to 203, which would refer the matter to the Department of Justice for a decision on whether to press criminal charges.
Only two Republicans joined Democrats in voting in favor.
Scavino and Navarro have argued that their communications are protected by executive privilege, although many legal experts have said that principle does not apply to former presidents. President Joe Biden’s administration has denied executive privilege to the former Trump aides.
Contempt of Congress bears a penalty of up to a year’s imprisonment and a fine up to $100,000.
Republicans lined up to object before the vote, accusing Democrats of waging a political war. “Democrats are using the power of the federal government to jail their political opponents,” House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy said.
The House backed contempt of Congress charges last year for Steve Bannon, a Trump adviser. He was charged in a case set to go to trial in July. The chamber also voted in favor of a contempt charge for Mark Meadows, a former House member who became Trump’s chief of staff, but there has been no word from the Justice Department on whether charges will be filed.
The Democratic-led Select Committee has been investigating events leading to the assault on the seat of the U.S. government on Jan. 6, 2021, when Vice President Mike Pence and lawmakers gathered to certify Democrat Biden’s victory in the November 2020 election.
After Trump claimed at a rally that his defeat was the result of fraud, the Capitol was overrun, with protesters injuring police officers and sending Pence, lawmakers, staff and journalists fleeing for safety.