Washington — Former high Trump White Home financial adviser Peter Navarro instructed a federal choose that Donald Trump made it “very clear” that he needed Navarro to invoke sure privileges and never reply to a congressional subpoena from the now-defunct Home choose committee that investigated the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol.
Navarro testified Monday that on Feb. 20, 2022 — 11 days after he was subpoenaed by the Jan. 6 committee — he referred to as Trump and spoke with him for 3 minutes.
“It was clear throughout that decision that privilege was concerned, very clear,” Navarro mentioned.
Navarro took the stand in an evidentiary listening to through which his authorized workforce urged federal Decide Amit Mehta to permit Navarro to defend himself at his contempt of Congress trial by stating that Trump instructed him to not adjust to the committee’s subpoena.
White Home commerce adviser Peter Navarro attends a coronavirus job drive briefing on the White Home March 21, 2020, in Washington. / Credit score: AP Photograph/Patrick Semansky
Navarro mentioned he had a gathering with Trump on April 5, 2022, the place “there was no query that privilege had been invoked from the get-go,” referring to Trump as “boss” and characterizing the dialog as one the place Trump did many of the speaking.
The choose committee first subpoenaed Navarro for data and testimony in February 2022 as a part of its investigation into efforts to reverse the end result of the 2020 presidential election. After refusing to adjust to the requests, Navarro was indicted on two counts of prison contempt of Congress and pleaded not responsible.
His trial is ready to start Sept. 5, and the events are estimating the proceedings will take simply days to finish.
Prosecutors had urged the court docket to not maintain Monday’s evidentiary listening to in any respect, arguing Navarro had not supplied the court docket with any precise proof that Trump had really invoked govt privilege or testimonial immunity — sure protections afforded to presidents in particular situations — over Navarro’s response to the congressional subpoena.
However in a ruling final month, Mehta wrote, “The court docket…will allow Defendant, by his personal testimony or different proof, to determine the factual predicate for the precise, correct invocation of govt privilege or testimonial immunity, or each, by the previous President.”
Decide Mehta raised questions in regards to the existence of any documented proof substantiating Navarro’s declare that Trump directed the invocation of the privileges.
“I nonetheless have no inkling of what the president’s phrases have been,” he mentioned.
Stanley Woodward, Navarro’s protection lawyer, mentioned that he, too, wished there have been extra bodily documentation of the manager privilege, however he argued that the “unconventional method” didn’t invalidate Navarro’s proper to defend himself by saying he thought he had been formally restricted from talking to Congress.
When requested about his communication with Trump, Navarro mentioned he didn’t electronic mail him straight and communicated with him by his aides, including, “He is not a textual content man.”
However the Justice Division mentioned there was nothing to show that Trump even noticed the Jan. 6 subpoena, a lot much less proof that helps the declare that he formally shielded Navarro from testimony.
The protection contended that it will have been “inconceivable” that Trump would grant govt privilege to all his different senior advisers who had been subpoenaed by the Jan. 6 Home choose committee and to not Navarro. Notably, in a separate listening to within the courtroom adjoining to the one the place Navarro was testifying, federal prosecutors in Trump’s prosecution revealed the previous president’s authorized workforce had mounted a number of sealed court docket battles over assertions of govt privilege in an unsuccessful try to cease a variety of grand jury witnesses from testifying within the particular counsel’s probe.
Earlier than Monday’s listening to, Mehta dominated that Navarro would want to indicate formal, concrete proof throughout Monday’s listening to that such protections had been invoked to make the privilege or immunity protection at trial. Mehta additionally specified that any argument about testimonial immunity would solely apply to the second rely for which Navarro was charged — associated to his refusal to testify — and the primary rely, associated to the manufacturing of related data, could be topic solely to govt privilege.
The choose mentioned he would rule on whether or not Navarro may use the privilege and immunity defenses at his upcoming trial within the coming days.
Decide Mehta mentioned that what made the case “odd” was that nobody was denying that Navarro believed that he had govt privilege.
Navarro is the second Trump ally to be prosecuted for refusing to adjust to a subpoena from the previous Home Choose Committee.
Steve Bannon was convicted final 12 months of two counts of contempt of Congress after he, like Navarro, didn’t hand over requested paperwork or sit for a deposition. His sentencing listening to has been suspended as he appeals his responsible verdict to the next court docket.
Different Trump aides, Mark Meadows and Dan Scavino, have been referred by Congress to the Justice Division for contempt fees however weren’t finally charged.
Every rely Navarro faces carries a most sentence of 1 12 months in jail.
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