Ex-Trump adviser Navarro indicted by grand jury
A federal grand jury has indicted Peter Navarro, a former Trump White House adviser, on two counts of criminal contempt of Congress for defying subpoenas from the House Jan. 6 select committee.
The two misdemeanor counts stem from his failure to comply with demands for documents and testimony in the panel’s investigation.
Navarro was indicted on Thursday, and the indictment was unsealed on Friday.
The former trade adviser made his initial court appearance Friday afternoon, during which he insisted on representing himself and railed against federal prosecutors, the FBI and the select committee.
Navarro in court accused the Justice Department of “prosecutorial misconduct” for arresting him at an airport on his way to Nashville for a television appearance. He also argued the committee lacks the authority to subpoena him.
“That committee is a sham committee that doesn’t have the power to issue subpoenas,” Navarro told a federal magistrate judge. “They’ve basically weaponized their investigatory powers in a way which violates separation of powers.”
The House voted to hold Navarro in contempt in April, referring him to the Justice Department for criminal charges. Of four former Trump officials to be referred by the House, Navarro is only the second to face charges.
If convicted, he faces the possibility of up to a year in jail and $100,000 in fines for each count.
The select committee subpoenaed Navarro in February, seeking documents and testimony about Trump allies’ efforts to overturn the 2020 election results. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the panel’s chairman, said in a letter to Navarro that lawmakers were seeking more information about his public claims that more than a hundred lawmakers were on board with those efforts. He was also active in promoting Trump’s claims of voter fraud.
“And, because you have already discussed these and other relevant issues in your recently published book, in interviews with reporters, and, among other places, on a podcast, we look forward to discussing them with you, too,” Thompson wrote.
The former White House aide also revealed this week that he had been served a grand jury subpoena as part of the Justice Department’s own investigation — a sign that federal law enforcement has begun scrutinizing the highest levels of the Trump administration.
That revelation came in a lawsuit Navarro filed on Tuesday against House Democrats challenging the select committee’s subpoena. Navarro, who is not an attorney, will be representing himself in that case, and argues he should be immune from testifying due to his status as a White House employee at the time.
According to a copy of the subpoena obtained by The Guardian, the grand jury subpoena asks for “all documents” requested by the select committee, as well as “any communications with former President Trump and/or his counsel or representatives.”
The charges come at an interesting point in the relationship between the committee and DOJ. Members of the panel had become more vocal in their concern that DOJ may not pursue charges against the other officials it had referred and that the department was not aggressively pursuing those in Trump’s orbit.
However when DOJ last month asked for the committee to turn over its materials, the committee asked the department to narrow its request and said it would only allow them to look but not possess its depositions.
The charges against Navarro suggest DOJ is willing to go after those who were actively serving in the White House on Jan. 6.
DOJ filed charges against one-time White House strategist Steve Bannon in November of last year, with the department arguing he could make no claims for immunity due to executive privilege given that he was long out of the White House during the time in question.
It still has not, however, brought any charges against former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows, who provided a tranche of documents to the committee but never testified, or Dan Scavino, Trump’s deputy chief of staff for communications who was referred to the Justice Department for charges the same day as Navarro.
The select committee has scheduled a public hearing on Thursday to begin reporting its findings after nearly a year of investigating the attack on the Capitol and interviewing more than a thousand witnesses.
Updated at 4:07 p.m.