DOJ seeks 6-month sentence for former Trump aide Peter Navarro

The prosecutor said Navarro summarily refused to aid the Jan. 6 committee’s investigation into the causes of the violent assault at the Capitol — including efforts by Trump to subvert the 2020 election and derail the transfer of power. Navarro worked with allies in Congress on a strategy to help slow Congress’ counting of electoral votes via a strategy that he and fellow Trump ally Steve Bannon dubbed “The Green Bay Sweep.”

The Jan. 6 committee subpoenaed Navarro to discuss those efforts, but he quickly told them that his testimony was barred by executive privilege, and he declined to participate in their probe.

After the House held Navarro in contempt in April 2022, the Justice Department obtained a grand jury indictment of him for refusing to provide documents and testimony. Prosecutors said Navarro knew Trump had never actually asserted executive privilege to bar his testimony and said such an assertion would not preclude him from testifying about at least some of the subjects the committee had demanded.

President Joe Biden waived any potential claim of executive privilege by the current administration, as well.

“At no time did the Defendant provide the Committee with any evidence supporting his assertion that the former President had invoked executive privilege over the information the Committee’s subpoena sought from the Defendant, or otherwise challenge the Committee’s authority or composition,” Aloi wrote. “The Court was left with only the Defendant’s fan fiction version of what the Defendant wished or hoped the former President might have wanted but left unsaid.”

U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta is due to sentence Navarro next week.

Navarro used his sentencing memo to lean into the complexity of laws and legal precedents surrounding executive privilege and immunity for presidential advisors — questions that Mehta labored to resolve over months of pretrial litigation. Though he wrestled with the issue at length, Mehta ultimately ruled that Navarro presented no evidence that Trump intended to invoke executive privilege to bar his testimony and could not credit Navarro’s claims.

But Navarro’s attorneys Stan Woodward, John Rowley and John Irving pointed to Mehta’s laborious consideration as evidence Navarro should receive a lenient sentence — no more than six months of probation per count and a minimal fine.

“How should the Court sentence someone whose defense was hamstrung by antiquated precedent and the Court’s finding on ‘an open question?’” the attorneys wrote in a
31-page memo.
“‘Above the law’ is how the government describes Dr. Navarro, but in so doing the prosecution ignores the fact that with novel issues of first impression, like minds might disagree.”

Navarro was able to put on virtually no defense to the charges in part because of
a 1961 legal precedent
related to a Detroit mobster who defied a congressional subpoena. That case resulted in an appeals court ruling that eliminated virtually any excuses for missing a congressional subpoena deadline.

“Dr. Navarro’s actions do not stem from a disrespect for the law, nor do they stem from any belief that he is above the law,” his lawyers wrote. “Rather, Dr. Navarro acted because he reasonably believed he was duty-bound to assert executive privilege on former President Trump’s behalf.”

Navarro would be the second former Trump aide sentenced for defying the select committee. Bannon was convicted by a jury and sentenced to four months in 2022, though his sentence remains paused while he appeals the verdict. The House held two other witnesses — Mark Meadows and Dan Scavino — in contempt for defying the committee, but the Justice Department declined to prosecute them.

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