Cooperation May Be Factor as DOJ Declines to Charge Meadows and Scavino

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has signaled it won't indict two Trump White House aides who negotiated with a congressional probe before stonewalling it, raising questions from the House committee investigating the January 6 siege on the U.S. Capitol.

The DOJ will not charge former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and ex-Deputy Chief of Staff Dan Scavino for brushing off subpoenas from the House January 6 committee, The New York Times reported Friday. The decision comes the same day another Trump adviser was indicted for ignoring the committee, highlighting how each White House aide has offered varying levels of cooperation.

Representatives Bennie Thompson, a Democrat who chairs the Jan. 6 committee, and Liz Cheney, its Republican vice-chair, in a statement on Friday questioned the DOJ's decision.

"While today's indictment of Peter Navarro was the correct decision by the Justice Department, we find the decision to reward Mark Meadows and Dan Scavino for their continued attack on the rule of law puzzling," they said. "Mr. Meadows and Mr. Scavino unquestionably have relevant knowledge about President Trump's role in the efforts to overturn the 2020 election and the events of January 6th."

The statement asked the DOJ for "greater clarity on this matter."

In recent months, the House January 6 committee has focused on whether President Donald Trump's inner circle used their positions to try to overturn the outcome of the 2020 election.

Steve Bannon, a former Trump advisor, was indicted on a contempt of Congress charge last year for brushing off the committee's subpoena. On Friday, Peter Navarro, a former Trump trade advisor, was indicted, after he also defied a subpoena.

Both refused to cooperate, arguing executive privilege freed them from testifying.

Mark Meadows at Capitol
The Department of Justice will reportedly not charge Mark Meadows and Dan Scavino for casting aside subpoenas from the House January 6 committee, a move that has raised questions. Above, Meadows, the former White House chief of staff, departs the U.S. Capitol after the first day of the second impeachment trial of ex-President Donald Trump on February 9, 2021. Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

Scavino and Meadows have shown more willingness to cooperate with the committee to varying degrees. Notably, Meadows handed over emails and text messages to the committee before ending his cooperation with the investigation.

Denver Riggleman, a former Republican representative hired by the January 6 committee, told CNN's Anderson Cooper that the text messages have provided a valuable "roadmap."

"I would have to say at this point, I think Mark Meadows is the MVP for the committee," said Riggleman. "I think they should pay him. The data that we got from there actually allowed us to really structure an effective investigation."

Riggleman described the text messages as troubling. Reading almost like a "fantasy novel," he said the text messages show how pervasive conspiracy theories have gone to the top levels of the Republican Party. He referenced text messages by Ginny Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, pressing Meadows to overturn the 2020 election results.

The House in April voted to refer contempt of court citations to the DOJ. However, the resolution calling for the contempt citation suggests Scavino tried to negotiate with the committee by requesting extensions to deadlines to produce documents.

The January 6 committee is preparing for a series of hearings next week, saying in a tweet that the talks are intended "to provide the American people with a summary of our findings about the coordinated, multi-step effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election."

Newsweek has reached out to the DOJ for comment.