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The Jan. 6 House panel focuses on Peter Navarro and Dan Scavino


The House committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol tonight will hold its first public meeting since December to consider referring two senior Trump White House officials to the Justice Department for criminal contempt. Peter Navarro and Dan Scavino have refused to comply with subpoenas to appear before the panel and produce documents. NPR's Deirdre Walsh covers Congress. She's here to tell us where this sprawling investigation stands. All right, so why is the committee focused on Peter Navarro and Dan Scavino?

DEIRDRE WALSH, BYLINE: Good morning, A. The House committee put out a report last night, and it details the evidence about these two individuals and their roles. Navarro was former President Trump's top trade adviser. He's talked publicly in a book that he wrote about his involvement in trying to delay the certification of the electoral count. The committee sent him a subpoena in February, but he's been arguing that he's covered by executive privilege. In his book, Navarro described working closely with Trump's adviser, Steve Bannon, and he claimed that more than a hundred members of Congress were trying to support efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

In terms of Scavino, the committee says it has evidence that he spoke with the former president several times on January 6. It also talks about how he had credentials to post on the president's social media channels and listed several tweets leading up to January 6. They also say Scavino had a history of monitoring websites that openly advocated and planned violence in the weeks leading up to the insurrection.

MARTÍNEZ: What is the process once the committee votes to approve a criminal referral resolution?

WALSH: Well, we expect tonight the committee may reveal more details about what they've learned, from others who are cooperating, about the roles Navarro and Scavino played. Once the committee approves the report, it goes to the House floor for a vote, and that could happen soon. Then it's up to the Justice Department to decide if they're going to prosecute. The committee's referred three other individuals for criminal contempt of Congress - Steve Bannon, who was indicted, former justice official Jeffrey Clark and Mark Meadows, the former White House chief of staff.

MARTÍNEZ: And speaking of Mark Meadows, last week there was news that the committee had nearly 30 text messages between Meadows and Ginni Thomas, the wife of Clarence Thomas, with Ginni Thomas urging Meadows to take steps to fight the election results. So what's been the fallout?

WALSH: Yeah, I mean, those messages and the content were pretty stunning. NPR confirmed the content of them. They were first reported by The Washington Post, CBS and CNN. We've reached out to Ginni Thomas and Justice Thomas through the court but have not received any response. We've learned, talking to sources familiar with the committee's discussions, there hasn't been a decision yet now about whether to ask Ginni Thomas to appear or send a subpoena. But we could hear more about that tonight.

MARTÍNEZ: One more thing. I mean, any sign of when we'll see a report with results from the investigation or hearings about what the committee has learned?

WALSH: It's going to be a while. You know, public hearings were supposed to start in April, but the committee is still very much in fact-finding mode. They've interviewed about 800 people so far. They have 87,000 records from a broad range of sources. Now we're hearing that public hearings are expected to start in May, and they could stretch into the summer. But the political reality and sort of the unofficial deadline for this committee's report is the midterm elections. Democrats could lose control of the House, and Republican leaders who have boycotted participating in this committee so far are likely to disband the January 6 committee.

MARTÍNEZ: NPR's Deirdre Walsh, thanks a lot.

WALSH: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

A Martínez
A Martínez is one of the hosts of Morning Edition and Up First. He came to NPR in 2021 and is based out of NPR West.
Deirdre Walsh is the congress editor for NPR's Washington Desk.