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Former Trump White House trade adviser Peter Navarro rejects plea deal in contempt of Congress case

The deal would have allowed Navarro to plead guilty to one of two contempt of Congress charges for failing to cooperate with the ongoing House investigation on Jan. 6. Navarro would also be required to comply with the House Select Committee’s subpoena “to the satisfaction of the Justice Department,” prosecutors said, and would cap Navarro’s potential jail term at 30 days.

‘No one in his position has ever been prosecuted for criminal contempt of Congress’ for following a ‘presidential directive,’ John Rowley, Navarro’s defense attorney, said of plea offer rejection . Navarro said he couldn’t comply with the subpoena because former President Donald Trump informed him he was protected by executive privilege.

“Essentially, this is a dispute between the president’s office and Congress, and Mr. Navarro has been faced with the dilemma,” Rowley told reporters outside the courthouse, “either to follow the executive direction , or to risk prosecution”.

Navarro is charged with contempt of Congress after failing to appear to testify or turn over documents as part of the House Select Committee investigation. He pleaded not guilty. If found guilty, Navarro faces one year in prison on each of the two counts against him.

Navarro’s team also discussed the fact that he was put in ‘leg irons’ on the day of his arrest and that he was arrested at the airport, even though his apartment is a short walk from the headquarters. from the FBI. (After Friday’s hearing, Navarro clarified that the leg irons were used at the courthouse that day, not by the FBI). When Navarro’s attorneys raised the issue during the hearing, U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta said, “I’m curious why the government handled Mr. Navarro’s arrest the way it did. did.”

His case is the second contempt charge brought by the Justice Department for refusing to cooperate with the House investigation, with Trump adviser Steve Bannon due to stand trial on similar charges next week.

Bannon, like Navarro, attempted to argue that the executive privilege surrounding the presidency protects him from being prosecuted for defying a subpoena. But a federal judge sided with the Justice Department in recently ruling that Bannon could not make most aspects of that argument to the jury when his case goes to trial next week. Judge de Bannon found that, based on appeals court precedent that will also cover Navarro’s case, this argument was largely irrelevant to what the government must prove for a conviction, rendering that evidence inadmissible. for the trial.

Although Navarro has a different judge presiding over his case, he could face similar hurdles in presenting executive privilege arguments to a jury. In addition, the House Jan. 6 committee also noted that while Navarro was still working for the Trump White House at the time of the riot, he had already written publicly about many topics the committee wanted to discuss in detail in its book.

Navarro’s lawyers also said in court Friday that his criminal case amounted to a “selective prosecution,” citing the Justice Department’s decision not to charge Mark Meadows, President Donald Trump’s former chief of staff, and Dan Scavino. , former Deputy Chief of Staff at Trump. Meadows and Scavino also defied aspects of House Select Committee subpoenas and were found in contempt by the committee.

cnn

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