WASHINGTON — Peter Navarro, a White House official under President Donald Trump, was found guilty Thursday of contempt of Congress for refusing to appear in a legislative inquiry into the Jan. 6, 2021, storming of the Capitol cooperate.
The verdict was followed by a brief trial of Navarro, who was Trump’s White House trade adviser and subsequently touted the president’s unsubstantiated claims of massive fraud in the 2020 election, which Trump lost.
Navarro is the second Trump aide to be charged with contempt of congressional charges, after Steve Bannon, the former White House aide who was convicted on two counts and sentenced to four months in prison, though he remains at large pending appeal.
Prosecutors said Navarro acted as if he was “above the law” when he failed to comply with a subpoena for documents and testimony from the House Committee. He was charged with two misdemeanor counts of contempt for Congress, both of which carried up to a year in prison.
One of his attorneys claimed that Navarro did not ignore the congressional subpoena but instead told committee members to contact Trump to learn what material might fall under executive privilege, which they did not.
US District Judge Amit Mehta ruled that Navarro’s argument for executive privileges did not constitute a defense of the prosecution, noting that Navarro had produced no evidence that Trump had invoked it.
Prosecutors said most of the material the commission was seeking was already in the public domain and that Navarro should have turned over what he could and flagged any questions or documents deemed protected by executive privilege.
Trump faces a federal lawsuit in Washington DC and a state lawsuit in Georgia over his efforts to reverse his 2020 election loss to Joe Biden. He denies committing any wrongdoing and said he acted in accordance with the law.
The House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, storming of the Capitol ended its work in January this year after a final report alleged that Trump had criminally engaged in a “multiparty conspiracy” to manipulate the legal results of the election To overturn 2020, and did so. Nothing stopped a mob of his supporters from attacking Congressional headquarters.