Peter Navarro, ex-Trump trade adviser, indicted for contempt of Congressional charges

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Former Trump White House official Peter Navarro has been charged with criminal contempt of Congress after he refused to comply with a subpoena from the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol, the Justice Department said Friday. announced prior to the panel’s first meeting. public hearings televised next week.

Navarro, who was a trade adviser to President Donald Trump, revealed that he also received a grand jury subpoena as part of a related Justice Department investigation into a lawsuit he filed Tuesday against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and the bipartisan House committee. Navarro, who single-handedly filed the lawsuit without a lawyer, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Navarro, 72, is charged with one count of contempt related to his refusal to appear for a statement and another related to his refusal to submit documents to the commission, according to a seven-page indictment. The charges against Navarro, the second former Trump adviser to face criminal charges in connection with the commission’s dismissal, mirror the charges sought by the House and filed by US prosecutors in November against former White House adviser Stephen K. Bannon, after he too refused to appear or submit documents to the committee.

The charges were returned Thursday and unlocked Friday, and Navarro is due to appear in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia for the first time this afternoon.

The Jan. 6 commission subpoenaed Navarro on Feb. 9 seeking data and testimony from the former trade adviser, who has written and publicly discussed efforts to develop a strategy to delay certification of the 2020 elections or to undo.

With the commission’s public hearings beginning on June 9, Navarro’s indictment will not necessarily yield tangible results in time for the commission’s final report, due before the November midterms. A criminal conviction for contempt of Congress can result in a fine and up to a year in prison, but it doesn’t force a person to talk. Legal analysts said Congress could file a lawsuit to achieve that outcome, hoping a judge would give Navarro civil contempt and imprison him until he cooperated.

In its subpoena, the select committee said it had reason to believe that Navarro had information relevant to its investigation. Navarro, previously an adviser to the president on various trade and manufacturing policies, has been a private individual since his departure from the White House on January 20, 2021.

Trump adviser Peter Navarro published a book, in which he revealed the plan to keep Trump in office. (Video: Monica Rodman, Sarah Hashemi/The Washington Post)

Steve Bannon indicted after refusing to comply with Jan 6 commission subpoena

Prosecutors alleged that Navarro did not communicate with the commission at all after receiving the subpoena. The day after the Feb. 23 deadline for documents passed, Navarro sent an email in response to a committee reminder, in which he stated, in part, “President Trump has invoked Executive Privilege in this matter… Accordingly. my hands are tied,” the indictment said. †

When the commission said several issues raised no concern about executive privileges, Navarro replied on Feb. 28, saying the privilege “is not mine to renounce” and that the commission should negotiate the matter directly. with Trump and his lawyers, prosecutors said.

Both Navarro and Bannon were indicted by a grand jury in Washington — a rare move by the Justice Department to escalate the fallout from a dispute involving Congress by launching criminal charges.

The department has yet to act on Congressional referrals for charges against former Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Chief of Communications Daniel Scavino Jr.

Lawmakers on the Jan. 6 commission have publicly and privately expressed frustration at the delay in Attorney General Merrick Garland’s decision-making process, especially regarding Meadows, who was despised by the House last December.

Friday’s decision is likely to re-examine the investigation into the political and legal conundrum Garland faces over criminal contempt referrals against some of the former president’s closest allies that undermine the executive’s ability to keep discussions private. to take. Lawmakers and investigators on the committee have come to view Meadows as a central figure in Trump’s months-long effort to undo the election results and have previously expressed concerns that Garland’s delay could hinder their work.

However, unlike Bannon and Navarro — who had left the White House before the 2020 election — Meadows and Scavino stayed with Trump through the events of January 6 and until he left office later that month after President Biden’s inauguration, forcing their claims for executive privilege under Department of Justice Policy.

Presidents have generally sought to protect current and former aides from having to testify before Congress, and the Justice Department has in recent history refused to file criminal cases against current and former officials after disregarding Congressional findings.

In 2008, for example, the department dismissed charges against President George W. Bush’s chief of staff Joshua Bolten and former White House counsel Harriet Miers, who had opposed subpoenas over the controversial forced dismissal of U.S. attorneys during the tenure of the couple. In 2012, the department declined to pursue a contempt charge against incumbent Attorney General Eric Holder, who refused to hand over some documents related to the Fast and Furious scandal, a gun smuggling gone wrong.

Bannon, who has pleaded not guilty, will not be tried until mid-July.

Within the Jan 6 committee, important questions remain as hearings loom

In a letter accompanying the original Navarro subpoena, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), chair of the select committee, news reports that the former Trump trade adviser “has worked with Steve Bannon and others to develop and execute a plan. to delay Congressional certification and ultimately change the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.”

The letter quoted Navarro’s recent book, in which he described a plan he called “The Green Bay Sweep,” which he described as the “last best shot at snatching a stolen election from the delusional jaws of Democrats.”

The subpoena also described a Navarro report released online that reiterated “many allegations of alleged electoral fraud that have been discredited”.

Navarro said in his lawsuit against Pelosi and the commission that he must testify and present before a grand jury on June 2.[a]all documents relating to the subpoena dated February 9, 2022” he received from the commission, “including but not limited to all communications with [former president] Trump and/or his counsel or representative.”

“As demonstrated in this briefing, it is not for me or Joe Biden to relinquish the executive privilege that President Trump has invoked,” Navarro reiterated in the lawsuit. On the contrary, as with the commission, the US Attorney has constitutional and due process obligations to negotiate my appearance before [the grand jury] not with me, but rather with President Trump and his attorneys and I am bound by the privilege of not complying with this Grand Jury subpoena without this negotiation and guidance from President Trump.

In a court statement Thursday, the U.S. District Judge, Randolph D. Moss, assigned the case to Navarro to file any challenge to the grand jury subpoena under seal to U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell of DC in accordance with court rules. . Moss also told Navarro to modify his lawsuit to clarify the basis for other claims, such as those challenging the legitimacy of the selected House committee or Biden’s authority to waive the executive privilege conferred by his predecessor. was invoked.

Felicia Sonmez contributed to this report.

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