(WASHINGTON) — Former Trump White House adviser Peter Navarro will go to trial Tuesday on criminal charges that he defied a subpoena for testimony and documents issued in February 2022 by the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
The House of Representatives voted in April 2022 to hold Navarro in contempt of Congress. The matter was then referred to the Justice Department, and two months later Navarro was indicted by a grand jury on contempt of Congress charges.
According to the indictment, Navarro faces one count over his refusal to appear for a deposition in front of the committee, and another count for refusing to produce documents.
Navarro has pleaded not guilty to both charges. If convicted on both counts, he could face a maximum of two years in prison and fines up to $200,000, according to the Justice Department.
Last week, Judge Amit Mehta ruled that Navarro cannot argue to a jury that then-President Donald Trump asserted executive privilege to block him from testifying before Congress. Mehta said that Navarro’s claim that he spoke to Trump last year at which time “Trump clearly invoked executive privilege” provided no specific evidence that Trump had indeed done so.
“There was no formal invocation of executive privilege by [Trump] after personal consideration nor authorization to Mr. Navarro to invoke privilege on his behalf,” Mehta said.
After the pre-trial hearing, Navarro doubled down on his claim that Trump formally granted him executive privilege.
“It’s been the case where people like me, senior advisers, the president … cannot be compelled to testify,” Navarro said to reporters last week. “There is not a single White House adviser who hasn’t asserted executive privilege.”
Navarro, who was the director of the White House Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy in the Trump White House, wrote a series of reports in the weeks following the 2020 presidential election claiming that the election was stolen from Trump.
He was also in contact with Trump ally Steve Bannon about an effort to delay Congress’ certification of the election and overturn the results, a plan Navarro dubbed the “Green Bay Sweep” in his book, In Trump Time, the Jan. 6 committee wrote in its report.
Bannon also defied a House select committee subpoena and was subsequently convicted on two counts of contempt of Congress last year.
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