DEVELOPING STORYDEVELOPING STORY,
Navarro has become the second Trump ally to be found guilty of defying a subpoena related to the US Capitol attack.
Peter Navarro, a trade advisor to former United States President Donald Trump, has been convicted of two misdemeanor counts of criminal contempt, after prosecutors said he defied a congressional subpoena compelling him to submit evidence about the 2021 Capitol attack.
A 12-member jury deliberated for four hours before handing in the verdict in a federal district court in Washington, DC.
Navarro is now the second major Trump ally to be convicted of contempt, after former White House advisor Steve Bannon was likewise convicted in July 2022 for dodging a subpoena.
“The defendant chose allegiance to former President Trump over compliance with the subpoena,” prosecutor Elizabeth Aloi said of Navarro in her closing arguments on Thursday. “That is contempt. That is a crime.”
The subpoena had called Navarro to testify and submit documents to a select committee in the House of Representatives investigating the deadly Capitol attack on January 6, 2021.
At the time, supporters of then-President Trump stormed the Capitol, in an attempt to overturn the certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory.
An advisor for Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and later for his White House, Navarro had been a vocal advocate of the false belief that the 2020 election had been “stolen” from Trump — a belief that helped motivate the January 6 attack.
“Peter Navarro made a choice. He chose not abide by the congressional subpoena,” Aloi told jurors.
But Navarro’s defence team rejected that argument, saying the prosecutors failed to prove he had “willfully” avoided the subpoena.
Navarro’s noncompliance, defence lawyer Stanley Woodward explained, could have been the result of “inadvertence, accident or mistake”.
“We don’t know that he wasn’t stuck on the metro,” Woodward said of his client’s failure to appear before the House select committee on March 2, 2022. He argued that prosecutors had failed to pin down exactly where Navarro was or what he was doing at that time, leaving doubt over whether his actions amounted to contempt.
Judge Amit Mehta, who presided over the case, had previously barred another defence argument that Navarro’s actions were protected under executive privilege, as a former member of the Trump White House.
Navarro and other Trump officials have maintained that the former president directed them not to cooperate with the January 6 investigation. After the verdict, Navarro blamed Mehta’s decision for the jury’s outcome.
“The day that Judge Mehta ruled that I could not use executive privilege as the defense in this case, the die was cast,” Navarro told reporters.
The Trump advisor also took to social media to denounce the proceedings as politically motivated and raise money for his defence.
“Jury in deliberations now. We’re in God’s hands,” he wrote as he awaited the verdict. “The only thing certain are more legal bills. That’s the Democrat’s lawfare game.”
Sentencing in the case is scheduled for January 12, 2024. Navarro faces anywhere from 30 days to a year in jail, as well as a fine up to $100,000.
This is a developping news story. More details to follow.