Peter Navarro Faces Contempt Trial for Defying Jan. 6 Committee

22:37 06.09.2023

Former Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro began his trial for contempt of Congress on Wednesday, bringing a large photo of his former boss, Donald Trump, to the courthouse. Navarro, 74, is facing two counts for his refusal to testify before the House Select Committee investigating the January 6th Capitol attack. As he entered the courthouse, Navarro quipped to reporters about the photo, calling Trump "the commander in chief," but offered no further explanation for bringing it. He then struck a solemn tone, expressing frustration over the trial's financial burden, estimating that it would cost him a total of $1 million in legal fees.

Prosecutors wasted no time in urging jurors to convict Navarro, arguing that he had willfully defied a congressional subpoena. Prosecutor John Crabb emphasized Navarro's disregard for the law, stating, "He acted as if he's above the law, but he's not above the law." Navarro pleaded not guilty to both counts, which carry potential penalties of up to one year in prison and a fine of $100,000 per charge.

Navarro contends that the subpoenas were nullified by Trump's executive privilege, the right of a president to keep certain communications confidential. However, Judge Amit Mehta rejected Navarro's attempt to dismiss the trial based on executive privilege, stating that Navarro had not provided sufficient evidence that Trump had invoked the privilege. Even if Trump had properly invoked executive privilege, Mehta suggested that Navarro may still have been required to testify on non-privileged topics.

The House Select Committee subpoenaed Navarro in February 2022, seeking information on his involvement in efforts to overturn the 2020 election results. Navarro had previously boasted about his ability to exonerate Trump and former White House strategist Steve Bannon, and expressed confidence that the committee would not dare to contact him. However, after Navarro's refusal to comply with the subpoena, Congress voted to hold him in contempt and referred the matter to the Justice Department, which indicted him in June 2022.

Navarro is not the only Trump administration alum to defy the committee's subpoenas. Bannon, former White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications Dan Scavino, and former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows also refused to comply. The DOJ brought charges against Navarro and Bannon, but not Scavino and Meadows. Bannon was convicted on two contempt charges last year, though he is currently appealing the conviction.

The trial is expected to last only a few days, and jury selection began on Tuesday. Navarro's defense team had argued that he should be allowed to invoke executive privilege as a defense, but Judge Mehta ruled against him, stating that no evidence had been presented to support that claim. The trial could provide insight into Navarro's communications with the White House during the final days of Trump's presidency. Potential witnesses for the defense include former Trump communication aide Liz Harrington, who may testify about Navarro's claims of executive privilege.

Navarro's trial highlights the ongoing tensions between the legislative and executive branches of government, as well as the legal battles surrounding the events leading up to the January 6th Capitol attack. The outcome of the trial will determine whether Navarro will face jail time and hefty fines for his refusal to testify before the committee.

/ Wednesday, September 6, 2023, 10:37 PM /

themes:  Donald Trump

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