Judge Thwarts Peter Navarro Attempt To Evade Contempt Of Congress Case

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Peter Navarro, the longtime Trump ally who is now charged with contempt of Congress for refusing to cooperate with the House committee investigating the Capitol riot, recently lost in court as his case moves forward.

Navarro was seeking additional materials from the government, including items he said would show whether he faced “selective and disparate treatment” compared to other individuals who worked in the White House, if he was the victim of corrupt political interference from the current White House or another interest, and whether procedures used in securing his indictment violated his due process rights. There’s no evidence of corrupt involvement by the current White House in the issuance of Navarro’s criminal charges, which include a pair of allegations of contempt. The judge completely denied Navarro’s requests for the compulsion of additional documents from the government amid the discovery process in his case.

In support of claims of political interference, Navarro cited the Justice Department supposedly breaking with longstanding precedent in bringing his case, a public statement from President Joe Biden supporting prosecutions of those defying subpoenas from the riot panel, Navarro’s public arrest, grand jury testimony from an FBI agent supposedly suggesting “contacts between the Select Committee and the Department,” and unsolicited communications from the White House Counsel’s office.

Federal Judge Amit Mehta noted that, as to the last point, Navarro didn’t mention that two other former Trump aides who also received similar communications from the White House Counsel’s office informing them of Biden’s decisions against claiming executive privilege in related contexts weren’t prosecuted. Thus, the notion that the communications Navarro received suggest improper communications or even coordination between the White House and Justice Department is baseless. Mehta also undercut the allegations about the FBI agent’s testimony and Navarro’s arrest. Navarro wanted an opportunity to turn himself in, but “the government has provided at least a plausible explanation for why it took a different course here,” the judge said. As Mehta summarizes it, the government already explained that just “a few days before his indictment, when case agents attempted to interview and serve Defendant with a subpoena, he initially refused to open the door and later told the agents to “get the f*** out of here.””

“Courts generally should defer to law enforcement about the best way to bring a defendant before the court on a criminal charge. Simply put, Defendant has come forward with insufficient evidence to establish a colorable claim of discriminatory motive,” as the judge summarized. As for the claims of political animus, the judge added that Biden’s disputed public statements didn’t actually distinguish among those facing potential prosecution, undercutting the notion of meaningfully direct interference, and the judge also concluded the allegation of the department ditching decades of precedent isn’t enough for proving political interference of the sort Navarro alleged. Navarro “thus fails to make a colorable case of undue political interference,” the judge said.