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Ex-Trump adviser Peter Navarro indicted for not helping Capitol riot inquiry

Former Trump White House official Peter Navarro has been indicted on charges that he refused to co-operate with a congressional investigation into the January 6 attack on the US Capitol (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)
Former Trump White House official Peter Navarro has been indicted on charges that he refused to co-operate with a congressional investigation into the January 6 attack on the US Capitol (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

Former Trump White House official Peter Navarro has been indicted on charges he refused to co-operate with a congressional investigation into the January 6 attack on the US Capitol.

But the Justice Department spared two other advisers, including the ex-president’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, from criminal prosecution.

The department’s decision to not prosecute Mr Meadows and Dan Scavino, another adviser to former president Donald Trump, was revealed in a letter sent on Friday by a federal prosecutor to a lawyer for the House of Representatives.

The move was reported hours after the indictment of Navarro and a subsequent, fiery court appearance in which he vowed to contest the contempt of Congress charges.

The flurry of activity comes just days before the House committee leading the investigation into the riot at the Capitol holds a primetime hearing aimed at presenting the American public with evidence it has collected about how the assault unfolded.

The split decisions show how the Justice Department has opted to evaluate on a case-by-case basis contempt referrals it has received from Congress rather than automatically pursue charges against each and every Trump aide who has resisted congressional subpoenas.

The committee’s leaders called the decision to not prosecute Mr Meadows and Mr Scavino “puzzling”.

Dan Scavino, right, and Mark Meadows, left, walk to board Marine One
Mark Meadows (left) and Dan Scavino (right) have been spared prosecution by the Justice Department (Andrew Harnik/AP)

Though the Justice Department has referred multiple Trump aides for potential prosecution for refusal to co-operate, Mr Navarro is only the second to face criminal charges following the indictment last autumn of former White House adviser Steve Bannon.

Mr Navarro, 72, was charged with one contempt count for failing to appear for a deposition before the House committee and a second charge for failing to produce documents the committee requested.

During an initial court appearance, he alleged the Justice Department had committed “prosecutorial misconduct” and said he was told he could not contact anyone after being approached by an FBI agent at the airport on Friday and put in handcuffs.

He said he was arrested while trying to board a flight to Nashville, Tennessee for a television appearance.

“Who are these people? This is not America,” Navarro said. “I was a distinguished public servant for four years!”

Each charge carries a minimum sentence of a month in jail and a maximum of a year behind bars.

The Justice Department and Attorney General Merrick Garland had been facing pressure to move more quickly to decide whether to prosecute other Trump aides who have similarly defied subpoenas from the House panel.

The New York Times first reported on the decision to not charge Mr Meadows and Mr Scavino, with a person familiar with the decision who was not authorised to discuss it publicly confirming it to The Associated Press on Friday.

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