A federal decide on Friday delayed the contempt of Congress trial for former Donald Trump adviser Peter Navarro, possible for months, to permit for added pre-trial debate over the function government privilege might play when the case goes to a jury.
Over the course of a virtually two-hour listening to Friday, US District Choose Amit Mehta grilled Justice Division prosecutors on the place the division has taken, in earlier inner Workplace of Authorized Counsel opinions, that shut aides to a president could be immune from congressional subpoenas.
The trial had been scheduled to start on Monday.
With the questions Mehta is elevating about government privilege, the Justice Division has been placed on the spot to make clear its murky interpretations in regards to the scope of presidential immunity.
Through the Trump administration and in prior administrations, DOJ has issued inner steering describing a sweeping “absolute immunity” that protects some presidential aides from having to even present up when Congress subpoenas them for testimony – although whether or not such immunity exists has been rebuffed in courtroom.
On Friday, prosecutors Elizabeth Aloi and John Crabb tried to skirt round Mehta’s hypotheticals about whether or not such an immunity would have utilized to Navarro had he had been given a directive, because the time Home January 6 committee demanded his participation in its probe, that Trump was invoking privilege in response to the subpoena.
Mehta famous to the prosecutors that they had been in a felony context and stated that “it appears to me you must have some fairly clear strains earlier than you prosecute somebody.”
“You’ll be able to’t ask somebody to parse these OLC opinions the way in which that you just’re suggesting,” the decide later stated.
Mehta had opened the door to the likelihood that Navarro might current proof at trial – probably taking the stand – that he had been advised by Trump that the previous president was invoking government privilege over his testimony to the Home January 6 committee.
Thus far, Navarro has supplied no proof that Trump made a such an invocation when he was subpoenaed for paperwork and testimony by the now defunct Home January 6 choose committee.
Federal prosecutors bristled at the concept that Navarro ought to nonetheless be allowed to current such proof, arguing that it doesn’t exist within the first place and that if it did, it could not be as much as the jury to determine whether or not such invocation would have shielded Navarro from the subpoena.
Mehta finally determined that the difficulty raised authorized questions that wanted to be determined earlier than trial, so he postponed its Monday begin date.
The decide didn’t schedule a brand new date for the trial, and as a substitute set a briefing schedule on the privilege questions that may lengthen by the tip of March.
At the same time as they welcomed the delay and the chance for extra briefing, Navarro’s legal professionals had been obscure on what sort of proof they’d search to current if given the prospect to lift the protection that there had been an invocation of privilege.
Navarro legal professional Stan Woodward burdened that he couldn’t commit that Navarro would testify at trial if such protection was allowed, given the dangers that might include a cross-examination from prosecutors. At one level Woodward quipped that among the many many points his authorized staff must overcome with Navarro testifying could be “calling my malpractice provider earlier than I put Navarro on the stand.”
This story has been up to date with extra particulars.