Trump aides can be prosecuted for contempt -- thanks to this important ruling
Peter Navarro. (U.S. Mission Photo/Eric Bridiers)

The House select committee appears to be losing faith in the Department of Justice, which has indicted only one individual from Donald Trump's inner circle.

The select committee voted unanimously to hold former Trump aides Peter Navarro and Dan Scavino in contempt of Congress after they refused to comply with a subpoena, but attorney general Merrick Garland and the DOJ have not yet indicted former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and have been moving slowly in prosecuting Steve Bannon on the same charge, reported Vox.

“Attorney General Garland, do your job so we can do ours," said Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA).

Prosecuting Meadows, Navarro and Scavino, however, raises distinct legal issues because all three worked in the White House during the Jan. 6 insurrection, while Bannon did not, but previous court rulings -- including one by Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson -- suggest they could not hide behind executive privilege.

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"By sheer coincidence — appellate judges are typically randomly assigned to cases — one of the lower court judges who ruled against Trump in [his lawsuit against committee chairman Bennie Thompson] was Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson," wrote Vox senior correspondent Ian Millhiser. "Jackson also ruled in an earlier case, Committee on the Judiciary v. McGahn, that top presidential aides are not immune from congressional subpoenas. Both decisions offer some insight into how the courts might approach a prosecution of Navarro and Scavino."

Jackson rejected the Trump administration's claim that senior aides have "absolute" immunity from testimony from a congressional subpoena, she did find that executive privilege might allow them to refuse to answer some questions -- but she did rule that presidential aides must physically show up to testify.

"So, if Navarro and Scavino had complied with the subpoena, it is possible that some of the information sought by the committee might be protected by executive privilege," Millhiser wrote. "But, at least under Jackson’s approach, they cannot simply refuse to show up — and can be held in contempt of Congress for their refusal."