The Department of Justice (DOJ) asked a federal judge on Monday to order Peter Navarro, former President Trump’s trade adviser, to hand over emails from an unofficial account that he used during his time in the White House.
“There is no genuine dispute of fact that Dr. Navarro used at least one unofficial email account to conduct official business, that those records are the property of the United States, and that Dr. Navarro has refused to return the records to the United States,” the Justice Department said in the recent filing that asked the judge for an immediate ruling in its favor. “Indeed, his counsel has expressly admitted as much.”
The DOJ filed a lawsuit against Navarro last month, after he refused to produce any of the emails from his unofficial account without a “grant of immunity.”
Navarro was required under the Presidential Records Act to turn over any emails that related to his official work for the president. Any emails that were sent or received in an unofficial account had to be copied or forwarded to the official email account.
The National Archives and Records Administration became aware of Navarro’s unofficial ProtonMail account after messages were released by the House subcommittee investigating the government’s response to COVID-19.
The National Archives, and later the DOJ, requested that Navarro turn over the emails. After reviewing the emails, Navarro’s lawyers estimated that there were about 200 to 250 presidential records within the unofficial account.
However, Navarro’s lawyers have refuted the DOJ’s claims that he refused to provide the records to the government, telling The Hill last month that Navarro “instructed his lawyers to preserve all such records” and “expects the government to follow standard processes in good faith to allow him to produce records.”
The DOJ request comes amid the ongoing controversy over Trump’s own handling of his White House records, which has been in the headlines since the FBI raid this summer on Mar-a-Lago, the former president’s Florida property, to recover several boxes of White House documents.