Former Trump White House adviser Peter Navarro’s trial on contempt of Congress charges for ignoring subpoenas from the House Jan. 6 committee starts Tuesday, when jury selection begins in Washington.
The trial comes after a federal judge last week rejected Navarro’s bid to dodge contempt charges. Navarro claimed that former President Donald Trump had invoked executive privilege to prevent Navarro from testifying before the congressional panel that investigated the events in the lead-up to and during the Capitol attack on Jan. 6, 2021.
During a pretrial hearing last week, U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta found no evidence for Navarro’s claim.
Mehta cited three pillars of claiming executive privilege: It must be invoked by the president or an authorized representative; it must be made after personal consideration by the president or an authorized representative; and it cannot be validly asserted by what Mehta called “mere acquiescence” or a “blanket assertion of privilege.”
Trump did not submit any evidence asserting that he had claimed executive privilege in Navarro’s case.
Prior to allowing Navarro’s trial to proceed, Mehta noted last week that Navarro did not cite any language that he alleged Trump used when discussing executive privilege with him. “Even if there aren’t magic words,” Mehta said, there should be “some words” or a “smoke signal” about what Trump said.
Navarro, 74, was indicted by a federal grand jury last year on two counts of contempt of Congress, one for failing to provide papers, and another for failing to provide testimony to the House Jan. 6 committee. The indictment followed a criminal referral from the House of Representatives for his shunning of the committee’s subpoenas.
Navarro pleaded not guilty to both charges. The now-defunct committee pushed back at Navarro’s executive privilege claims at the time, arguing that it needed information from him because he played a key role “in the ex-president’s effort to overturn the 2020 election.”
The panel noted that Navarro has publicly boasted about his plans to challenge the election results, including a plan he called the “Green Bay Sweep” in a book he published in 2021. Navarro also said publicly that Trump was “on board with the strategy.”