Peter Navarro, a commerce adviser to former President Donald J. Trump who helped lay plans to maintain Mr. Trump in workplace after the 2020 election, was sentenced on Thursday to 4 months in jail for defying a subpoena from the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the Capitol.
Mr. Navarro, 74, was found guilty in September of two misdemeanor counts of legal contempt of Congress, making him the second Trump aide to face penalties associated to one of many chief investigations into the Capitol riot. The judge overseeing the case, Amit P. Mehta, had rejected Mr. Navarro’s major protection: that Mr. Trump had personally directed him to not cooperate with the subpoena, and that he believed he was shielded by govt privilege.
“The phrases ‘govt privilege’ usually are not magical incantations,” Judge Mehta stated in handing down the sentence after a tense two-and-a-half-hour listening to wherein he repeatedly took subject with Mr. Navarro’s declare of govt privilege.
“It’s not a get-out-of-jail-free card,” he stated.
In a testy alternate with Mr. Navarro’s legal professionals beforehand, the judge singled out Mr. Navarro’s choice to flout the subpoena whilst different aides to Mr. Trump negotiated whether or not to conform. “I’ve quite a lot of respect to your shopper and what he’s achieved professionally, I do,” he stated. “Which makes it all of the extra disappointing the way in which he behaved.”
Appearing stunned by Judge Mehta’s responses to one among his legal professionals Mr. Navarro at one level stood as much as converse for himself, in opposition to what he stated was his legal professionals’ recommendation.
Recounting his thought course of when he obtained the subpoena, Mr. Navarro stated that he was torn about whether or not to cooperate and that he had hoped his case would grow to be a blueprint for White House aides subpoenaed by Congress.
“All they need to do is learn the transcript of you right here in the present day they usually’ll know what to do, sir,” he stated. “I didn’t know what to do.”
Mr. Navarro was additionally ordered to pay a $9,500 effective. He will keep out of jail for now, at the least till Judge Mehta decides whether or not he can stay free whereas he appeals his conviction.
Outside Federal District Court in Washington, Mr. Navarro, surrounded by reporters and cameras on an unseasonably heat day, was instantly drowned out by hecklers blowing whistles and jostling together with his legal professionals for area behind him to brandish indicators.
Over the din, Mr. Navarro defiantly solicited donations for his authorized protection, including that he was “not anticipating or hoping for” a pardon from Mr. Trump ought to he be re-elected to the presidency.
Mr. Navarro, a Harvard-trained economist and a vocal critic of China, served as a commerce adviser to Mr. Trump earlier than turning his focus to the pandemic response. After the 2020 election, nonetheless, he more and more explored methods to subvert the end result of the race and preserve Mr. Trump in energy.
Along with Stephen Ok. Bannon, a longtime adviser to Mr. Trump, Mr. Navarro devised a plan often known as the Green Bay Sweep. Under the technique, they might attempt to delay certification of the election by persuading Republican lawmakers to repeatedly problem the ends in varied swing states and apply stress on former Vice President Mike Pence to discredit the end result. He additionally solid doubt on the outcomes of the race, compiling situations of purported irregularities and issuing a three-part report claiming election fraud as a part of what he described as an “immaculate deception.”
Those efforts in the end elicited the eye of the House committee, which sought paperwork and testimony from Mr. Navarro.
When the committee reached out to Mr. Navarro, he instantly replied by electronic mail, stating solely “govt privilege” and by no means cooperating with the panel.
After voting to carry Mr. Navarro in contempt, the House referred the matter to the Justice Department, which obtained a grand jury indictment.
Judge Mehta famous the disconnect between Mr. Navarro’s public appearances and his response to Congress.
“You’re more than pleased to speak to the press about what you probably did, write it in your e book however not go as much as the Hill and discuss to Congress, which was investigating what occurred and the causes of that day,” he stated.
Mr. Navarro’s legal professionals had requested for six months’ probation and a minimal effective. His dismissal of the House committee was primarily a misunderstanding, they contended, including that Mr. Navarro had genuinely believed that Mr. Trump had invoked govt privilege.
In asking for a extra lenient sentence, his legal professionals stated the case had hinged on murky and unsettled authorized questions on govt privilege and the advanced separation of powers between Congress and the White House — questions that Judge Mehta had struggled to untangle over months of litigation earlier than the trial.
“We’re however a pit cease in our journey to understanding what govt privilege means and the way it must be invoked,” Stanley Woodward Jr., a lawyer for Mr. Navarro, stated on Thursday.
“This case is much from over,” he added.
Judge Mehta bristled on the suggestion, noting that others in Mr. Trump’s orbit had complied with the House committee’s subpoenas.
“Any lawyer value his salt,” he replied angrily, would have suggested Mr. Navarro “to have interaction with Congress and determine what is roofed and what isn’t lined.”
Judge Mehta additionally questioned Mr. Woodward’s assertion that Mr. Navarro had accepted accountability for his actions and was merely making an attempt to make clear the legislation surrounding govt privilege.
Judge Mehta cited fund-raising emails and information conferences exterior the courtroom wherein Mr. Navarro denounced the Jan. 6 committee as “home terrorists” and a “kangaroo court docket.”
“It’s these sort of statements from somebody who ought to know higher that contributes to why our politics are so corrosive,” Judge Mehta stated.
Mr. Bannon, who left the White House in 2017, was convicted on practically an identical contempt expenses in 2022 and sentenced to four months in prison. He, too, stays free as his enchantment strikes ahead.