In a landmark ruling, Peter Navarro, an ex-aide to former President Donald Trump, was found guilty of contempt of Congress. Prosecutors accused Navarro of placing himself "above the law," failing to comply with a subpoena tied to the investigation into attempts to reverse the 2020 presidential election outcome.
This conviction could lead Navarro to serve up to two years behind bars. On the steps of the Washington DC courthouse, Navarro labeled the ruling as a "dark moment for America," expressing his intention to challenge the verdict at the Supreme Court.
Navarro Cites DOJ Policy
Navarro's shock stems from his belief that senior White House advisers have historically been exempt from congressional testimony. He emphasized a half-century-long Department of Justice policy to this effect.
"But they still pursued the case," he lamented. The 12-member jury returned with a guilty verdict after two days of trial and a mere four-hour deliberation. In response, Navarro's legal team is not only gearing up for an appeal but also alleging potential jury misconduct, suggesting that jurors interacted with protestors outside the courthouse.
Navarro, previously Trump's senior trade adviser, had been subpoenaed by a US House of Representatives select committee in early 2022. He neither delivered the requested materials nor appeared before the committee, which had intentions of probing him about maneuvers to stall the 2020 election certification.
FBI agents apprehended Navarro in June 2022 at a Washington airport, thwarting his travel plans to Nashville. Prosecutor Elizabeth Aloi asserted during her closing remarks that Navarro prioritized loyalty to Trump over legal compliance.
"This act of defiance is not just contempt; it's a criminal offense," she proclaimed. While Navarro asserted executive privilege as directed by Trump, Judge Amit Mehta refuted these claims. Mehta highlighted a lack of substantial proof that either Trump or the privilege itself granted Navarro the right to sidestep the committee.
Interestingly, Navarro admitted to crafting a strategy, termed the "Green Bay Sweep," in his 2021 publication, In Trump Time. This strategy was designed to delay acknowledging President Joe Biden's win. However, his allegations of voter fraud were debunked by state officials.
The repercussions for Navarro could also include hefty fines, with his sentencing penned for January. Political insiders, like Bryan Lanza, former Trump campaign adviser, argue the prosecution appears to have political underpinnings.
He mentioned Eric Holder, ex-US Attorney General under Obama, who faced a similar contempt charge in 2012 but was spared from criminal prosecution. "This path is perilous for our governance structure," warned Lanza. In a parallel case, ex-Trump strategist Steve Bannon was found guilty of contempt in 2022, sentenced to four months, but remains free pending an appeal.