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DOJ Seeks Prison Term for Former Trump Adviser Peter Navarro Over Subpoena Evasion

Washington, D.C., January 19, 2024

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is pushing for a one-year prison term, along with fines, for former Trump White House adviser Peter Navarro following his criminal conviction related to defying a subpoena from the Jan. 6 committee. In September, a federal court jury convicted Navarro on two misdemeanor counts for refusing to comply with the congressional subpoena to testify in front of the Jan. 6 committee and provide requested documents.

In a memo submitted to the U.S. District Court of D.C. on January 18, DOJ prosecutors asserted that Navarro exhibited contempt for Congressional authority by refusing to comply with the subpoena. They argued that Navarro, like the rioters at the Capitol, prioritized politics over the nation and obstructed Congress's investigation into the events of January 6.

"The Defendant chose allegiance to former President Donald Trump over the rule of law even after being apprised that executive privilege would not excuse his default," the memo stated. Prosecutors recommended a six-month imprisonment for each count, the maximum allowed under the United States Sentencing Guidelines, and a $200,000 fine.

Navarro defended his refusal to comply with the Congressional subpoena by invoking executive privilege, claiming that his communications with President Trump and presidential staff were protected. Executive privilege allows the president and officials from the executive branch to withhold confidential information from the courts and legislative branch. In a court hearing in August, Navarro asserted that President Trump had made it "very clear" their conversations were covered by executive privilege. However, the judge ruled there was insufficient evidence to support this claim.

Prosecutors, in the January 18 memo, accused Navarro of using baseless invocations of executive privilege and immunity to mask his "bad-faith strategy of defiance and contempt." They argued that Navarro's actions went beyond legitimate claims of executive privilege and amounted to a deliberate contempt of Congress.

Navarro's lawyers countered in their own memo that the events surrounding the Jan. 6 Capitol breach should not influence his sentencing, emphasizing that the trial is not about those specific events.

The sentencing phase is likely to be closely watched, as it delves into the balance between executive privilege, congressional oversight, and the consequences for defiance. Navarro's case is emblematic of the ongoing legal battles over accountability for the events surrounding January 6 and the actions of individuals connected to the Trump administration.


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