Former Trump White House Trade Adviser Peter Navarro was indicted by a grand jury on Thursday on charges of criminal contempt of Congress over his refusal to comply with the Democrats’ weaponized committee to investigate the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot.
According to the indictment unsealed on Friday, Navarro, 72, is charged with one count for refusing to appear before a House deposition and another for refusing to turn over documents requested by lawmakers.
Navarro, who served as an adviser to the president all four years, now faces up to 12 months in prison and a six-figure fine for each of the two counts after the House voted in April to hold Navarro in contempt along with former White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications Dan Scavino. The pair joined former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, who face contempt referrals to the Department of Justice (DOJ) after defying similar subpoena orders from the Jan. 6 Committee. Navarro is the first of the four to be indicted.
On Tuesday, Navarro revealed in an 88-page lawsuit that he was recently served a DOJ subpoena by the FBI. In Navarro’s suit, which is filed against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, her deputies on the House panel, and U.S. D.C. Attorney Matthew M. Graves, he claims the select committee is illegitimate and therefore its subpoena powers are null.
While members of the Trump administration and even the former president himself have routinely asserted executive privilege — a legal protection granted to former Attorney General Eric Holder when he was held in contempt of Congress nearly a decade ago — to escape compliance with the select committee’s document demands, Democrats have dismissed the claim. D.C. courts have offered no more protection of executive privilege, overruling Republican claims to it.
Scavino’s legal team argued in correspondence with committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., in February, however, that recent rulings on executive privilege’s assertion have only covered a subset of documents for which the panel has sought access.
Next Thursday, the select committee will hold its first in a series of prime-time hearings as the investigation transitions into its public show-trial phase ahead of the November midterms. Committee staff conceded to The Washington Post in March that the panel’s work was all about the upcoming elections since Democrats don’t have a successful policy platform to run on as Americans cope with record energy prices and runaway inflation.
Last week, a pair of top Republican lawmakers also signaled refusal to cooperate with Pelosi’s panel after members took the extraordinary step to hand down official subpoenas to House colleagues. In a joint op-ed for The Wall Street Journal, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, both among five Republicans in the lower chamber who were subpoenaed by the committee, railed against the witch hunt probe as “a dangerous abuse of power,” which “serves no legitimate legislative purpose, and eviscerates constitutional norms.”
“Even if the Jan. 6 Select Committee was acting in good faith, we have no relevant information that would assist in advancing its legislative purpose. Democrats know this because we told them in January,” the pair wrote.
According to a Federalist analysis of the committee’s subpoenas to date, less than 10 percent have targeted individuals connected to the violence on Capitol Hill.