Peter Navarro, an economic adviser to former President Trump, has been indicted on contempt charges for defying a subpoena from the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
His arrest comes months after the indictment of former White House adviser Steve Bannon.
Navarro, 72, was charged with one contempt count for failing to appear for a deposition before the House committee. The second charge is for failing to produce documents the committee requested. He was taken into federal custody Friday morning and faces up to a year in prison and $100,000 fine on each count.
Navarro was freed without bail after a chaotic hearing at which he insisted on representing himself and sparred with a federal judge over standard conditions like that he avoid illegal drugs and inform prosecutors if he travels.
“I was a distinguished public servant for four years,” Navarro said. “I saved millions of lives,” he added, apparently referring to his role in the Trump administration’s failed response to the COVID pandemic.
When Navarro mentioned upcoming media appearances, Magistrate Judge Zia Faruqui gently suggested he might want to take advantage of his right to remain silent.
The indictment alleges that Navarro, when summoned to appear before the committee for a deposition, refused to do so and instead told the panel that because Trump had invoked executive privilege, “my hands are tied.”
After committee staff told him they believed there were topics he could discuss without raising any executive privilege concerns, Navarro again refused, directing the committee to negotiate directly with lawyers for Trump, according to the indictment.
Navarro also revealed in a court filing that he’s been subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury as part of the Justice Department’s sprawling probe into the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
The former economics professor was one of the White House staffers who promoted Trump’s baseless claims of mass voter fraud. Trump, in turn, promoted a lengthy report Navarro released in December 2020, which Navarro falsely claimed contained evidence of the alleged misconduct and election fraud “more than sufficient” to swing victory to his former boss.
Despite the opposition from several Trump allies, the Jan. 6 panel, comprised of seven Democrats and two Republicans, has managed to interview more than 1,000 witnesses about the insurrection in the past 11 months and is now preparing for a series of public hearings to begin next week. Lawmakers on the panel hope the half-dozen hearings will be a high-profile airing of the causes and consequences of the domestic attack on the U.S. government.
With News Wire Services