Former Trump advisor Peter Navarro goes on trial for contempt of Congress

September 5, 2023

Former President Donald Trump made headlines late last month when he reported to Atlanta's Fulton County Jail and posed for his mugshot.

Yet he is far from being the only member of his administration to face legal problems. Another is former Trump White House advisor Peter Navarro, who went on trial this week for contempt of Congress.   

Navarro refused to comply with January 6 committee subpoena

According to The New York Times, Navarro's case stems from his refusal to comply with a subpoena issued by the Democrat-dominated House committee tasked with investigating the January 6 riot on Capitol Hill.

Navarro argued that the committee's subpoena was "illegal" and "unenforceable" given that Trump had directed him not to cooperate.

The former Trump advisor has been charged with two counts of contempt, with each carrying the prospect of a year in jail and $100,000 in fines should he be found guilty.

Navarro's defense hinges on the claim that he is protected by executive privilege. Cornell Law School explains that executive privilege refers to "the power of the President and other officials in the executive branch to withhold certain forms of confidential communication from the courts and the legislative branch."

Judge calls Navarro's defense "pretty weak sauce"

However, prosecutors contend that Navarro operated on his own and point to the fact that neither Trump nor his lawyers have provided confirmation that Navarro acted under the then-president's direction.

What's more, the Obama-appointed Judge Amit P. Mehta earlier rejected Navarro's motion to dismiss the case, maintaining that his claim of executive privilege amounts to "pretty weak sauce."

Specifically, Mehta pointed to the lack of written communication or even so much as a "smoke signal" to support Navarro's contention.

"I still don’t know what the president said," Mehta complained, adding, "I don’t have any words from the former president."

Stanley Woodward Jr. serves as Navarro's attorney, and he replied by telling the judge, "I don’t think anyone would disagree that we wish there was more here from President Trump."

Steve Bannon sentenced for contempt of Congress last year

The Times noted that Navarro's trial comes just under a year after fellow former Trump advisor Steve Bannon was sentenced to four months in prison for contempt of Congress.

"Others must be deterred from committing similar crimes," said Judge Carl J. Nichols, who also demanded that Bannon pay $6,500.

Bannon's sentence has been put on hold pending appeal. What's more, Bloomberg reported in January that Bannon's attorneys have requested that Nichols sanction prosecutors on the grounds that his private communications had been improperly searched.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
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