Peter Navarro, an advisor to former U.S. President Donald Trump, speaks to reporters as he arrives at the E. Barrett Prettyman Courthouse on September 7, 2023 in Washington, DC.
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A jury on Thursday convicted former Trump White House trade advisor Peter Navarro of two counts of criminal contempt of Congress. Navarro faces up to a year in prison, and U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta scheduled his sentencing for January 12.
Navarro had said he failed to comply with a congressional subpoena — which sought documents and his testimony to a House committee investigating efforts to reverse the 2020 election results — because former President Donald Trump instructed him to assert executive privilege.
“Peter Navarro made a choice. He chose not to comply with the congressional subpoena. Our government only works when people play by the rules,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Aloi told jurors in closing arguments in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.
“We are a nation of laws and our system does not work if people think they are above the law,” Aloi said. “If people like the defendant can choose to ignore the government’s subpoenas, the work of our government to serve its people cannot get done.”
Navarro’s lawyer Stan Woodward said, “For the government to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt it also has to prove that Dr. Navarro’s failure to comply with the subpoena was not the result of accident, mistake or inadvertence.”
Woodward argued that prosecutors had failed to give evidence of where Navarro was physically at the time he was due to appear before the select House committee.
The committee wanted to question Navarro about his role in promoting false claims that Trump had lost the 2020 election to President Joe Biden as the result of widespread ballot fraud.
A critic of free-trade policies, Navarro is a professor emeritus of economics and public policy at the University of California, Irvine.
Another former top Trump White House aide, Steve Bannon, was convicted last year of two counts of contempt of Congress for failing to comply with subpoenas issued by the House committee. Bannon, who was sentenced to four months in jail in that case, remains free as he appeals that conviction.
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