Although the case could continue, the Justice Department is once again on course to obtain hundreds of emails originating with Trump ally Peter Navarro in a private account.
Navarro used that private account in the course of his service as an official in the White House with Trump, and rules ordinarily demand that records relevantly related to official duties and found in such an account be forwarded or otherwise transferred to an official account in service of the decades-old legal precedent of preserving vast quantities of presidential records. Navarro has been refusing the government’s push to reclaim copies of the hundreds of messages that have come to be at issue, citing arguments including the supposed prospect that turning over the missives could violate his right against self-incrimination and much more general arguments about the government’s push for the records supposedly approximating “tyranny.”
Federal Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly has denied a motion from Navarro asking that she put her previous ruling in favor of the government on hold as appeals move forward. Referring to the piece of federal law known as the Presidential Records Act, the judge referred to Navarro among former federal employees as “apparently the first to steadfastly refuse to comply with the Act’s requirements and, in excuse, assert a series of meritless arguments to evade his statutory responsibilities.” Among other examples, he raised complaints about the government seeking legal mechanisms available under D.C. law for enforcing that federal act’s provisions, but the judge cited relevant precedents in the legal record clearly establishing that such was actually fine.
Navarro had moped that authorities were allegedly seeking “to usurp the legislative prerogative of Congress by utilizing the statute of a Federal District,” but Congress has evidently facilitated the arrangement.
“At its heart, Dr. Navarro’s motion is little more than a rehashing of the same arguments the Court has previously rejected on the merits,” Kollar-Kotelly said. “Defendant’s newfound concerns for federalism fare no better than his earlier arguments. Because he has not shown a likelihood of success on the merits, irreparable harm certain to occur absent interlocutory relief, or a weighty interest in retaining property that he concedes does not belong to him, no stay shall issue.” As for his argument against the possibility of self-incrimination, Kollar-Kotelly found that Navarro simply failed to clearly establish any reasonably arguable mechanism by which turning over the sought emails would actually threaten his Constitutional rights.
“As the Court discussed in its March 9 Memorandum Opinion, Dr. Navarro does not explain in any way why previously generated Presidential records would tend to incriminate him,” the judge said. Navarro currently faces a criminal case for contempt of Congress, but it’s unclear his emails would have anything at all to do with those proceedings.