When it comes to White House aides, Donald Trump clearly had his favorites. And thanks to a recent move Trump made in court, that fact is probably hitting former White House adviser Peter Navarro with the force of an 18-wheeler right about now.
Navarro’s contempt of Congress trial for refusing to cooperate with a House Jan. 6 committee subpoena is scheduled to begin Jan. 30. (This month is racing by, ain’t it?)
Navarro, a co-conspirator in Trump's plot to overturn the 2020 election, has made several dubious claims in an effort to stave off the contempt trial. Most notably, he alleges he’s been unfairly targeted by the Department of Justice because it declined to prosecute at least two other former Trump White House aides who spurned committee subpoenas.
Navarro told a federal judge that Trump — as a former president — wanted him to claim executive privilege over the subpoena.
But unlike former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and former deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino, both of whom also refused to fully cooperate with the Jan. 6 committee, Navarro had no proof whatsoever that Trump had claimed privilege of his testimony.
The two of them at least got a letter from Trump they gave to the committee, outlining his questionable privilege claims. Navarro has said Trump made his privilege claims in private.
The lack of evidence that Trump tried to make a privilege claim for Navarro is a major reason why the trial would be allowed to proceed, Judge Amit Mehta of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia said last week.
Well, Trump’s legal team officially sent that letter on Navarro’s behalf on Monday. You read that correctly: They waited until a week before Navarro’s trial kicks off to make the claim.
“It is critical to the functioning of the Office of the President that your communications with President Trump remain confidential,” Trump lawyer Evan Corcoran wrote.
Except … Trump doesn’t run that office anymore, so the privilege claim isn’t his to make, many legal experts have argued.
And assuming Trump did have authority to claim executive privilege, the fact his legal team essentially waited until the last minute to assert it suggests blocking Navarro’s testimony isn't the deeply consequential matter Trump says it is.
Now, we await Judge Mehta’s response to an assertion of privilege that seems destined for the trash heap.
I imagine Navarro's pride may be hurt a bit to realize he may not be on the same tier as Meadows and Scavino when it comes to Trump's willingness to defend him.