Peter Navarro, a former Trump White House official, was indicted for refusing to cooperate with a congressional inquiry into the Jan. 6 attack at the U.S. Capitol. However, the Justice Department exempted Mark Meadows and two other advisers from criminal prosecution.
In a Friday letter, a federal prosecutor sent to a House of Representatives lawyer, the department's decision not to prosecute Meadows or Dan Scavino, another adviser, was made public. This was just hours after the indictment against Navarro, and a fiery court appearance where he vowed that he would contest the contempt charges.
This flurry of activity occurs just days before the House Committee investigating the Capitol riot holds a primetime hearing to present evidence it has gathered about the incident. These split decisions demonstrate how the Justice Department decided to assess each case individually and not automatically pursue criminal charges against every Trump aide who resisted congressional subpoenas.
The leaders of the committee called the decision not to prosecute Meadows or Scavino "puzzling." ... Nobody is above the law.
Despite the fact that multiple Trump aides have been referred by the Justice Department for possible prosecution for refusing to cooperate, Navarro is the second Trump aide to be indicted for criminal conduct, following the fall arrest of Steve Bannon, former White House adviser.
72-year-old Navarro was charged with one count of contempt for failing to appear before the House committee for a deposition and a second for failing to produce documents requested by the committee.
He claimed that the Justice Department had committed "prosecutorial conduct" during his initial court appearance. He was then approached at the airport by an FBI agent and placed in handcuffs. He claimed he was trying to board a plane to Nashville, Tennessee to make a television appearance.
"Who are these people?" This is not America, Navarro stated. "I was a distinguished public service for four years!"
Each case carries a minimum sentence in jail of one month and a maximum sentence behind bars of one year.
Merrick Garland, Attorney General of the Justice Department, was under pressure to act faster in order to decide whether or not to pursue other Trump aides who had similarly defied subpoenas issued by the House panel.
The New York Times reported the first time about the decision not to charge Meadows or Scavino. The Associated Press was able to confirm the information from a person who was not authorized to speak publicly about the decision. Friday's comments were not made by the U.S. attorney's Washington office, who made the decisions about each Trump aide.
House investigators saw Meadows as a close Trump adviser and a crucial witness to key events. He initially cooperated with them, turning over more that 2,000 text messages in the days before and after the attack. Meadows told the committee in December that he would not be taking a deposition. After refusing to cooperate with Congress, Scavino was held in contempt.