Facing Subpoenas, Trump Allies Try to Run Out the Clock on Democrats

Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and another committee member, noted that the House’s two contempt referrals, against Mr. Bannon and Mr. Meadows, were criminal cases. If the Justice Department decides to prosecute Mr. Meadows, as it did Mr. Bannon, both men would face the prospects of jail time and fines.

“And that would be true irrespective of who’s controlling the Congress,” Mr. Schiff said.

With the Meadows contempt referral now at the Justice Department, career prosecutors in the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington will determine whether charges are warranted, and Attorney General Merrick B. Garland will approve or deny their recommendation.

The department moved with relative speed in Mr. Bannon’s case, taking about three and a half weeks to decide that contempt charges were warranted.

But the Meadows case is more complicated, legal experts say, in part because Mr. Meadows had already provided numerous documents to the committee, along with a list of documents that he withheld because of privilege issues. Mr. Meadows was an administration official while he was advising Mr. Trump, and his lawyer has argued that as a former presidential adviser he has immunity and does not need to testify.

The Justice Department has long asserted broad immunity for close presidential advisers, said Jonathan D. Shaub, a law professor at the University of Kentucky who worked at the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel.

Representative Maxine Waters, Democrat of California, suggested that Mr. Navarro could be next.

“If they don’t comply, then we’ve got to get them charged with defying the subpoena request,” she said. “We’ve just got to do it.”

No doubt, the courts are moving more swiftly since the change of power in the White House Counsel’s Office. In two separate rulings — the first in 2019, the second last month — judges said that the Trump White House must cooperate with House oversight demands. But the case two years ago chewed up three and a half months by the time Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson issued a 120-page opinion to end its first stage. Just 23 days elapsed between Mr. Trump’s filing to block the release of Jan. 6 papers and Judge Tanya Chutkan’s ruling against him in November.

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