Peter Navarro, a former Trump White House adviser, has been sentenced to four months in prison and ordered to pay a $9,500 fine for defying a congressional subpoena issued by the House select committee investigating the January 6 breach at the U.S. Capitol. The sentence, delivered by U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta, marks a pivotal moment in the ongoing legal proceedings related to the January 6 events.
Navarro, who served as an adviser on trade and manufacturing policies under former President Donald Trump, was convicted in September on two counts of contempt of Congress. He had refused to comply with a subpoena demanding his appearance and the production of documents in early 2022. His defiance was based on his belief that Trump had invoked executive privilege, a claim that became a central point of contention during the trial.
The sentence handed down is somewhat lenient compared to the six months imprisonment and $200,000 fine sought by prosecutors. Navarro’s case is particularly notable as it involves another high-ranking official in the previous administration.
Navarro’s defense centered on his assertion that he was caught in a conflict between the legislative and executive branches, believing in “good faith” that executive privilege had been invoked. However, the prosecution argued that Navarro’s actions displayed a disregard for legal processes and congressional authority. The judge, while acknowledging Navarro’s contributions to public service, expressed disappointment in his behavior, emphasizing the corrosive effect such actions have on the political landscape.
“The Defendant, like the rioters at the Capitol, put politics, not country, first, and stonewalled Congress’s investigation,” the prosecutors wrote. “The Defendant chose allegiance to former President Donald Trump over the rule of law.”
Prosecutor Elizabeth Aloi stated to the jury during her final remarks that Navarro “had knowledge about a plan to delay the activities of Congress on January 6,” and he was “more than happy” to share that information in public statements, yet he chose not to divulge it to the House committee.
The sentencing comes after a judge rejected Navarro’s bid for a new trial, where his attorneys argued that jurors might have been influenced by external factors. He intends to address that matter and more during the appeal process.
In court documents, his lawyers wrote, “The appeal of this case will definitely answer what is required of a former President to invoke executive privilege as to their senior advisors and no future advisor will be in the same position of not knowing that the President they served had not properly invoked the privilege.”
As Trump’s aide, Navarro was known for his hawkish views on trade policy, particularly with China, and has written several books and papers on the subject. He has been a controversial figure due to his strong advocacy for protectionist trade policies. Prior to his political career, Navarro was a professor of economics and public policy at the University of California, Irvine.
In September, prosecutors accused Navarro of behaving as though he was “above the law” by not complying with a subpoena from the House Jan. 6 committee, requesting documents and his testimony.
Navarro’s case is not isolated. It follows the conviction of Steve Bannon, another Trump adviser, who was also found guilty of contempt of Congress and sentenced to four months in prison. These cases collectively highlight the ongoing legal ramifications of the January 6 Capitol riot and the broader investigations into the events of that day.
As Navarro prepares to appeal the verdict, this case remains a significant chapter in the ongoing narrative of the January 6 investigations.