The US Department of Justice will not pursue charges of criminal contempt of Congress against top former Trump White House officials Mark Meadows and Dan Scavino for refusing to comply with subpoenas in the congressional investigation into the January 6 attack on the Capitol.
The decision – communicated to the counsel for the House of Representatives on Friday morning – marks a major blow for the House select committee investigating January 6, which had sought prosecutions for the two Trump aides in criminal referrals.
But in a letter sent around the same time that the justice department charged to form Trump White House official Peter Navarro with contempt for defying his subpoena, the US attorney for the District of Columbia said he would take no action against Meadows and Scavino.
“Based on the individual facts and circumstances of their alleged contempt, my office will not be initiating prosecutions for criminal contempt as requested in the referral against Messrs Meadows and Scavino,” the US attorney, Matthew Graves, said.
The justice department’s letter, earlier reported by the New York Times, was confirmed to the Guardian by two sources familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private communications.
In declining to prosecute Meadows and Scavino, Graves said in his letter that his office was also closing the probes into two of Trump’s most senior advisers. “Review of each of the contempt referrals arising from the Jan. 6 committee’s investigation is complete,” he said.
Meadows did not respond to a request for comment on Friday. An attorney for Scavino could not be reached late on Friday. The US attorney’s office declined to comment.
The decision marks the denouement for five months of speculation over whether the justice department would move to bring contempt charges against Meadows, who was deeply involved in Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results as White House chief of staff.
Meadows was among the very first targets to receive a subpoena from the select committee and initially assisted the investigation under a cooperation agreement, turning over thousands of pages of documents and communications, until he abruptly withdrew from the deal.
The select committee moved to recommend him for criminal contempt of Congress after he refused to attend a closed-door deposition, but that initial cooperation – in addition to his valid claims of executive privilege – appears to have brought him a reprieve.
The select committee also recommended contempt of Congress charges for Dan Scavino, the former Trump White House deputy chief of staff for communications, who remained in close proximity to Trump on January 6 and was subpoenaed to give documents and testimony.
Scavino is not understood to have provided any materials. But as with Meadows, Scavino spent months negotiating with the select committee over executive privilege and justice department office of legal counsel memos that shield presidential advisers from testifying.