Peter Navarro, the coup-plotting crony of former President Donald Trump, has lost yet another bid to have federal contempt of Congress charges dismissed after ignoring a subpoena from the House Jan. 6 committee demanding documents and testimony.
U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta’s ruling dispensed with several arguments Navarro has made since he first began spurning the committee — namely, that Trump claimed executive privilege over Navarro’s potential testimony, and that prosecutors were unfairly targeting Navarro because they didn’t charge other Trump associates who’d refused to testify. Mehta’s decision paves the way for Navarro’s trial to begin on Jan. 30, as planned.
In the ruling, Mehta rattled off a list of court cases that undermine Navarro’s argument that any president — let alone a former president, like Trump — is entitled to blanket claims of executive privilege. But he also explained why those cases don’t really matter in Navarro’s scenario: because the former White House adviser hasn’t even shown proof that Trump tried to claim privilege over his testimony.
According to Mehta:
“The court need not wade into these judicially uncharted constitutional waters because [Navarro’s] testimonial immunity defense rests on an unsupported factual premise: that President Trump invoked executive privilege with regard to the Select Committee’s subpoena. Defendant has failed to come forward with any evidence to support the claimed assertion of privilege. And, because the claimed assertion of executive privilege is unproven, Defendant cannot avoid prosecution for contempt.”
The judge went on to explain that Navarro’s claim that Trump had told him in a private “conversation” to assert executive privilege is effectively worthless in the absence of evidence to support it.
Mehta contrasted Navarro’s situation with Team Trump figures who have spurned Jan. 6 subpoenas without facing criminal charges. Similar to last September, when he dismissed Navarro’s claim that he was unfairly targeted, the judge noted in Thursday’s decision that former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino both received letters from Trump’s lawyers instructing them to assert privilege, and ultimately presented those letters to the Jan. 6 committee as reason why they didn’t have to testify.
I’ve come to realize Peter Navarro’s role in Trump’s pro-insurrectionist plot: He’s the lackey.
I should note: The argument in favor of those privilege claims is also quite dubious. And ultimately, the committee recommended contempt charges for Meadows and Scavino as well. But the judge made clear that Navarro’s legal footing was hardly the same without similar cover from the former president.
“Had the President issued a similar letter to Defendant, the record here would look very different,” Mehta wrote.
I’ve come to realize Peter Navarro’s role in Trump’s pro-insurrectionist plot: He’s the lackey. The Fredo Corleone. The hanger-on so desperate to be perceived as intelligent, he literally appeared on MSNBC and spoke about the efforts to keep Trump in office past his term.
Navarro apparently thought his actions would buy him favor from the boss. But the contempt proceedings are showing him how low he truly is on Trump’s totem pole.