CNN

Grand jury indicts former President Trump adviser Peter Navarro for contempt of Congress

Jun 3, 2022, 11:00 PM
White House Trade Advisor Peter Navarro speaks to the press about former National Security Advisor ...
White House Trade Advisor Peter Navarro speaks to the press about former National Security Advisor John Bolton's upcoming book release, outside of the White House in Washington, DC, on June 18, 2020. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

 (CNN) — A federal grand jury has indicted former Trump White House adviser Peter Navarro for contempt of Congress after he refused to cooperate in the House January 6 committee’s investigation.

During a court appearance in Washington, DC, on Friday, Navarro said that he still wants to represent himself without a lawyer and accused prosecutors of using “hardball” tactics by arresting him at an airport and not allowing him to make a phone call.

Navarro said he was arrested at a DC-area airport Friday on his way to Nashville.

He faces two contempt counts: one for his failure to produce documents demanded by the committee and the other for failing to show up for subpoenaed testimony before House investigators.

The House had voted in April to refer Navarro to the Justice Department for not complying with the select committee’s February subpoena.

Navarro had claimed that he was unable to cooperate because former President Donald Trump had asserted executive privilege in the matter. The committee had countered those arguments by citing that many of the topics it wanted to discuss with him he had already written about in great detail in his book.

Navarro is now the second former Trump adviser to be indicted for criminal contempt of Congress for defying a January 6 committee subpoena. The first referral from the House, for former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, was picked up by DOJ and has led to an indictment. He faces a criminal trial this summer. The Department of Justice on Friday informed the committee that it will not indict two other Trump allies referred for prosecution: former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and ex-deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino.

The Justice Department has come under pressure for from House Democrats and others on the left for not acting aggressively enough in its January 6 investigation, particularly as it concerns the role Trump and his inner circle played in seeking to overturn the election and in making the mass voter fraud that propelled the violent assault on the Capitol.

There have been recent indications, however, that the department has ramped up its investigation into a scheme to put forward fraudulent slates of Trump-supporting electors in states that President Joe Biden won.

At Friday’s court appearance, Judge Zia Faruqui expressed concern about allowing Navarro to represent himself. “I think it’s important that you have counsel,” the judge told him.

Navarro said he was OK with the judge appointing counsel “for today” and that he sent prosecutors an email with an attorney contact as they work this out. Navarro, who has a Ph.D in economics, is not an attorney.

“The arraignment should be postponed for a number of reasons,” Navarro added, requesting that his civil lawsuit against the House January 6 committee go forward before any criminal proceedings.

The court handling the civil case has already dinged Navarro for procedural flaws in how he structured the lawsuit.

The Justice Department did not request that Navarro be detained and while he argued the conditions of release were too strict — telling Faruqui that he was “no threat to anybody, not a flight risk” — the judge largely disagreed but allowed him to keep his passport.

Navarro will have to report to pretrial services, must notify pretrial if he is traveling, is not allowed to possess firearms or explosives and must get approval for travel outside the continental US.

His next court appearance is scheduled for June 17.

Focus on non-cooperation

The new charges against Navarro focus narrowly on his lack of compliance with the House’s investigation.

The subpoena from the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia specifically requests “all documents relating to the subpoena dated February 9, 2022, that you received from the House Select Committee to investigate the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, including but not limited to any communications with former President Trump and/or his counsel or representatives.”

In the indictment, prosecutors cite the repeated rejections Navarro received from the committee of his arguments for not complying with the subpoena.

In a February 27 email quoted by the indictment, the committee told Navarro that the committee believed that there were topics they could discuss “without any raising executive privilege concerns at all.”

“In any event, you must appear to assert any executive privilege objections on a question-by-question basis during the deposition,” the committee wrote.

When the committee referred Navarro for criminal charges earlier this year, it accused him of making no effort to comply with its subpoena request, claiming that he made it clear that he was unable to cooperate because Trump had asserted executive privilege in the matter.

Select committee chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson cited the executive privilege argument during Navarro’s contempt hearing.

“They potentially played a part in an attack on American democracy, but they can ignore our investigation because they worked for the government at the time. That’s their argument,” Thompson said at the time, referring to both Navarro and Scavino. “They’re not fooling anybody. They are obligated to comply with our investigation. They have refused to do so. And that’s a crime.”

The committee told Navarro that there were several topic areas it wanted to discuss with him that were not covered under privilege, but Navarro rejected the offer. Navarro also asked the committee if the proceedings would be held in public. He ultimately closed off communication with the committee and referred all questions regarding his cooperation to Trump and his attorneys.

Navarro revealed Monday that he had been subpoenaed by federal prosecutors who were seeking documents related to his decision. Navarro said in an interview with MSNBC Thursday night that he “responded” to the Justice Department, but he declined to say he would be willing to turn over the documents requested by prosecutors.

Threatens retaliation if GOP wins

In the MSNBC interview with Ari Melber, Navarro said he would “lead the charge” to pursue charges against Biden and leading Democrats if Republicans win the White House in 2024.

“You bet your a** that I will lead the charge,” Navarro said. “I will take Adam Schiff and Jamie Raskin and Nancy Pelosi and Rosa DeLauro — all of those clowns and kangaroos — I’ll take Biden and every single senior staff member in there–”

“And do what?” Melber interjected.

“Hit them with subpoenas,” Navarro declared. “We’ll start with the impeachment of Biden for Ukraine, the southern border, all manner of things he is guilty of and we’ll subpoena his senior staff.”

Melber said he wanted to get on record whether Navarro, if he were to return to a position of authority in a Republican administration, would “use the Department of Justice to subpoena Democrats” he doesn’t like.

“I will push as hard as I can to use the same B.S. the Democrats are using now to try to put me in prison for standing up for principle,” Navarro said. “If they want to play that game, we’ll play it right back. They’ll hit us, we hit them back harder. That’s not what I want, Ari. Let me be clear. I do not want that.”

Today’s Top Stories

CNN

Joseph Petito, father of Gabby Petito, speaks during a news conference on Tuesday, September 28, 20...
Jennifer Henderson, CNN

Florida judge allows lawsuit filed by Gabby Petito’s parents against Brian Laundrie’s parents to proceed

A lawsuit filed by Gabby Petito's parents will move forward, a Florida judge ruled Thursday. The lawsuit is against the parents of Brian Laundrie.
2 days ago
Immigration activists rally outside the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC on April 26. Photo credi...
Tierney Sneed and Priscilla Alvarez, CNN

Supreme Court says Biden can end Trump-era ‘Remain in Mexico’ immigration policy

The Supreme Court on Thursday gave President Joe Biden the green light to end the controversial "Remain in Mexico" immigration policy.
2 days ago
Justice Stephen Breyer and President Joe Biden....
Ariane de Vogue, CNN Supreme Court Reporter

Breyer makes it official: He’s leaving the Supreme Court on Thursday at noon

In a letter to President Joe Biden, Breyer said it had been his "great honor" to participate as a judge in the "effort to maintain our Constitution and the Rule of Law."
3 days ago
Image of the new summer treat: Ketchup-flavored popsicles (Photo courtesy of French's)...
Zoe Sottile, CNN

The newest, weirdest summer treat is a ketchup-flavored popsicle

A Canadian ketchup brand has launched an unusual twist on a popular summer treat: Ketchup-flavored popsicles.
5 days ago
...
Tim Lister, Julia Kesaieva, Salma Abdelaziz, Pierre Bairin and Jeevan Ravindran, CNN

Russian missiles hit Kyiv as G7 summit begins in Europe

G7 summit begins in Germany, as Russia hits Kyiv with a series of missile attacks.
6 days ago
American Airlines planes sit at gates at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) in Arlingt...
Chuck Johnston, CNN

More than 700 flights canceled Sunday

Across the United States on Sunday, more than 700 flights were canceled, according to the website FlightAware.
6 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Tax Harassment...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
Prescription opioids can be disposed of during National Prescription Take Back Day...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
national heart month...
Intermountain Healthcare

National Heart Month: 5 Lifestyle Changes to Make Today to Keep You Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease
Joseph Smith Memorial Building...
Temple Square

The Joseph Smith Memorial Building is an icon of Salt Lake City | Why hosting an event at this beautiful location will make you a hero this year

Here's why hosting an event at the iconic Joseph Smith Memorial Building in downtown Salt Lake City will make you a hero this year.
Grand jury indicts former President Trump adviser Peter Navarro for contempt of Congress