Peter Navarro, a former adviser to Donald Trump, was sentenced to four months in jail for contempt of Congress related to his defiance of a subpoena in connection with the congressional investigation into the January 6, 2021, US Capitol attack.
Navarro was convicted in September on two counts of contempt for not complying with a subpoena from the House select committee probing the attack.
The judge, US District Judge Amit Mehta, criticized Navarro during the sentencing hearing for claiming that his prosecution was politically motivated. Mehta stated that Navarro’s sentence was of his “own making” and refuted the notion of a political prosecution.
Mehta also imposed a fine of $9,500 on Navarro. The former Trump adviser swiftly appealed the case to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals.
Navarro’s legal team has consistently asserted that they plan to file an appeal to address issues related to his argument that he didn’t comply with the subpoena because Trump had invoked executive privilege.
While each count carries a mandatory minimum sentence of one month in prison, prosecutors had requested Mehta to sentence Navarro to six months for each count, running concurrently, and fine him $200,000.
They argued that Navarro’s refusal to comply with the subpoenas was similar to the conduct of some participants in the Capitol riot, emphasizing his allegiance to Trump over the rule of law.
Navarro’s conviction and sentence mark another victory for the disbanded House January 6 committee in its pursuit of criminal charges against individuals who refused to cooperate with its investigation.
Notably, former Trump adviser Steve Bannon was convicted in 2022 on two contempt counts and later sentenced to four months in prison, with his case currently under appeal.
Navarro’s trial in September moved swiftly, lasting less than a day. Prosecutors presented three former staff members of the House January 6 committee as witnesses, emphasizing the committee’s legitimate grounds for subpoenaing Navarro and his informed awareness of the demands.
Navarro’s attorneys focused on challenging the part of the contempt charge that required demonstrating his willful and deliberate decision not to comply.
Navarro, who maintained that he didn’t comply with the subpoena at Trump’s direction, claiming the invocation of executive privilege, had failed to prove that Trump formally asserted a privilege or testimonial immunity.
Despite Navarro’s insistence, the court concluded that he did not carry the burden of proving that Trump had properly invoked the privilege.
The appeal process, now initiated by Navarro, is expected to address various issues, including the requirements for a former president to invoke executive privilege concerning their senior advisers.
Navarro’s legal team anticipates that the appeal will clarify these matters to prevent future advisers from facing similar situations of uncertainty regarding a president’s invocation of privilege.
The federal appeals court in DC is concurrently considering Bannon’s appeal to overturn his contempt of Congress conviction, which raises questions about executive privilege and the advice received by the ex-adviser.