A federal judge on Thursday rejected a last-minute bid by former Trump adviser Peter Navarro to get his contempt of Congress case dismissed, ruling that Navarro failed to produce evidence that former President Trump wanted him to claim executive privilege.
Navarro pleaded not guilty to two counts of contempt of Congress in June for failing to respond to a subpoena that ordered him to produce testimony and documents to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack last February. At the time, he said that Trump invoked executive privilege into the matter and therefore prevented him from responding to the subpoena.
U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta ruled that because Navarro failed to demonstrate that Trump invoked executive privilege that prevented him from giving a testimony, his motion to dismiss the case will not be granted. He wrote that other Trump aides, Mark Meadows and Daniel Scavino, received letters from Trump that explicitly told them to invoke executive privilege over the Jan. 6 subpoenas, but that there was no proof that Navarro received the same instruction.
“The court need not wade into these judicially uncharted constitutional waters because Defendant’s testimonial immunity defense rests on an unsupported factual premise: that President Trump invoked executive privilege with regard to the Select Committee’s subpoena,” Mehta wrote in the ruling.
“Defendant has failed to come forward with any evidence to support the claimed assertion of privilege,” Mehta added. “And, because the claimed assertion of executive privilege is unproven, Defendant cannot avoid prosecution for contempt.”
Navarro also argued that his case should be dismissed because of “undue political influence,” but Mehta said Navarro had also failed to produce evidence for that claim. Mehta also rejected Navarro’s defense that the committee’s subpoenas were invalid because the committee did not have 13 members or a ranking Republican member.
This ruling means that Navarro’s trial will likely begin by the end of the month, after previously being postponed from November 2022 to January 2023. If convicted, Navarro could face up to one year in prison for each count.