Federal Judge Amit Mehta has upheld the criminal case against Trump ally — and former Trump White House official — Peter Navarro for contempt of Congress, which originates with his refusal to comply with a subpoena from the House committee that investigated the Capitol riot.
Mehta rejected a push from Navarro to dismiss the case. Navarro is the second ally to the former president to face criminal charges — and a trial — for refusing to abide by demands outlined in subpoenas from the riot panel, which is no longer operational. Steve Bannon faced similar accusations of criminality and went to trial, where he was convicted by a jury before later facing a sentence of four months in prison — but as Bannon’s appeals move forward, his sentence remains unfulfilled. As for Navarro, Mehta undercut the ex-Trump adviser’s attempts to point to the mere prospect of a claim of executive privilege from the now former president as supposed justification for dismissal, despite available evidence indicating Trump never made a specific claim of privilege over the information committee investigators were pursuing from Navarro, the judge found.
“[Navarro] has offered neither a sworn affidavit nor testimony from him or the former President. His contention rests only on his counsel’s representations, which are not evidence,” Mehta said in his ruling. “Without actual proof, the court cannot find that there was a formal invocation of privilege by the former President.” Mehta also more directly addressed the relevance of the mere possibility of a privilege claim in a passage highlighted by CNN. “The court cannot dismiss an indictment for contempt of Congress on the mere presumption that President Trump would have asserted executive privilege if only he had been asked,” the judge added. Mehta also rejected an argument from Navarro that he was the victim of selective enforcement considering the multiple other Trump associates who were referred by Congress for charges on similar grounds but never actually faced a case.
The interactions of Dan Scavino and Mark Meadows with the riot panel extended further in substance than those of Navarro. Meadows even initially provided some materials in response to the committee’s demands, including text messages that have since been revealed apparently in their entirety in public reports, allowing a look at details like how South Carolina GOP Congressman Ralph Norman was sending the then-White House chief of staff a push for martial law — which he misspelled — mere days before Trump was set to leave office and weeks after January 6.
This case is far from the only looming legal challenge connected to the efforts to overturn the election results from 2020. There is a court hearing scheduled for later this month in Georgia on the question of potentially releasing a final report from the work of a special grand jury that participated in the Georgia criminal investigation into pro-Trump election meddling led by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis. That report may include recommendations Willis pursue charges.