By MICHAEL BALSAMO, ERIC TUCKER and FARNOUSH AMIRI, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — Former Trump White House official Peter Navarro was indicted Friday on contempt expenses after defying a subpoena from the House panel investigating the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol.
Navarro is former President Donald Trump’s second aide to be charged with contempt of Congress for refusing to cooperate with the Jan. 6, 2021, investigation. His arrest comes months after the indictment of former White House adviser Steve Bannon.
Navarro, 72, was charged with one contempt depend for failing to seem for a deposition earlier than the House committee and a second cost for failing to provide paperwork the committee requested.
During an preliminary courtroom look on Friday, Navarro alleged that the Justice Department had dedicated “prosecutorial misconduct” and stated that he was instructed he couldn’t contact anybody after was approached by an FBI agent on the airport on Friday and put in handcuffs. He stated he was arrested whereas making an attempt to board a flight to Nashville, Tennessee, for a tv look.
“Who are these individuals? This will not be America,” Navarro stated. “I used to be a distinguished public servant for 4 years!”
During the listening to, he stated the House committee was a “sham committee” and that prosecutors had been “enjoying hardball” and had been “despicable.” If convicted, every cost carries a minimal sentence of a month in jail and a most of a 12 months behind bars.
The indictment underscores that the Justice Department is continuous to pursue prison expenses towards Trump associates who’ve tried to impede or stonewall the work of congressional investigators analyzing essentially the most vital assault on U.S. democracy in many years.
The Justice Department and Attorney General Merrick Garland have confronted stress to maneuver extra shortly to determine whether or not to prosecute different Trump aides who’ve equally defied subpoenas from the House panel.
The indictment alleges that Navarro, when summoned to seem earlier than the committee for a deposition, refused to take action and as an alternative instructed the panel that as a result of Trump had invoked govt privilege, “my palms are tied.”
After committee workers instructed him they believed there have been subjects he may talk about with out elevating any govt privilege considerations, Navarro once more refused, directing the committee to barter immediately with attorneys for Trump, in accordance with the indictment. The committee went forward with its scheduled deposition on March 2, however Navarro didn’t attend.
The indictment got here days after Navarro revealed in a courtroom submitting that he additionally had been subpoenaed to seem earlier than a grand jury this week as a part of the Justice Department’s sprawling probe into the lethal revolt on the U.S. Capitol.
“This was a preemtive strike by the prosecution towards that lawsuit,” Navarro instructed Magistrate Judge Zia Faruqui throughout his courtroom look. “It merely flies within the face of excellent religion and due course of.”
Navarro, who was a commerce adviser to Trump, stated he was served the subpoena by the FBI at his Washington, D.C., dwelling final week. The subpoena was the primary recognized occasion of prosecutors searching for testimony from somebody who labored within the Trump White House as they examine the assault. Prosecutors stated the indictment was handed down Thursday evening.
Navarro made the case in his lawsuit Tuesday that the House choose committee investigating the assault is illegal and subsequently a subpoena it issued to him in February is unenforceable beneath regulation.
He filed the go well with towards members of the committee, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and the U.S. legal professional in Washington, Matthew M. Graves, whose workplace is now dealing with the prison case towards him.
In an interview with The Associated Press this week, Navarro stated the aim of his lawsuit is way broader than the subpoenas themselves, a part of an effort to have “the Supreme Court deal with numerous points which have include the weaponization of Congress’ investigatory powers” since Trump entered workplace.
Members of the choose committee sought testimony from Navarro about his public efforts to assist Trump overturn the 2020 presidential election, together with a name making an attempt to influence state legislators to affix their efforts.
The former economics professor was one of many White House staffers who promoted Trump’s baseless claims of mass voter fraud. Trump, in flip, promoted a prolonged report Navarro launched in December 2020, which Navarro falsely claimed contained proof of the alleged misconduct and election fraud “greater than enough” to swing victory to his former boss.
Navarro has refused to cooperate with the committee, and he and fellow Trump adviser Dan Scavino had been present in contempt of Congress in April.
Members of the committee made their case on the time that Scavino and Navarro had been amongst only a handful of people that had rebuffed the committee’s requests and subpoenas for info. The Justice Department has not but moved ahead with expenses towards Scavino or Meadows, who initially cooperated with the committee, turning over greater than 2,000 textual content messages despatched and acquired within the days main as much as and of the assault. But in December, Meadows ceased cooperation. Federal prosecutors haven’t but indicated whether or not he too will probably be charged.
Despite the opposition from a number of Trump allies, the Jan. 6 panel, comprised of seven Democrats and two Republicans, has managed to interview greater than 1,000 witnesses in regards to the revolt up to now 11 months and is now making ready for a collection of public hearings to start subsequent week. Lawmakers on the panel hope the half-dozen hearings will probably be a high-profile airing of the causes and penalties of the home assault on the U.S. authorities.
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