Peter Navarro, a former Trump White House official was indicted on Friday for contempt after he defied a subpoena issued by the House panel investigating Jan. 6's attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Navarro, a former aide to President Donald Trump, is the second to be indicted for contempt of Congress. He refused to cooperate in the Jan. 6, 2021 investigation. His arrest comes months following the indictment against former White House adviser Steve Bannon.
72-year-old Navarro was charged with one count of contempt for failing to appear before the House committee for a deposition and a second for failing to produce documents requested by the committee.
Navarro claimed that the Justice Department had committed "prosecutorial conduct" during a Friday court appearance. He said that he was told he couldn't contact anyone after being approached by an FBI agent at Friday's airport and placed in handcuffs. He claimed that he was being held as he tried to board a plane to Nashville, Tennessee for a television interview.
"Who are these people?" This is not America," Navarro stated. "I was a distinguished public service for four years!"
During the hearing, he claimed that the House committee was a "sham" committee and that the prosecutors were "playing toughball" and "despicable." Each charge carries a minimum of one month in prison and a maximum sentence of one year behind bars.
This indictment shows that the Justice Department continues to pursue criminal charges against Trump associates for trying to impede or block the work of congressional investigators investigating the most serious attack on U.S democracy in decades.
Merrick Garland, Attorney General of the Justice Department, and the Justice Department have been under pressure to act faster to decide whether or not to pursue other Trump aides who similarly refused subpoenas from House panel.
According to the indictment, Navarro refused to appear before the committee to take a deposition and instead said to the panel that Trump had invoked executive privilege.
After staff members of the committee told him that they believe there are topics he can discuss without raising executive privilege concerns, Navarro refused to go back to them again and directed the committee to meet directly with Trump's lawyers, according to the indictment. The scheduled deposition was held on March 2, but Navarro didn't attend.
The indictment was issued days after Navarro disclosed in a court filing that he had also been subpoenaed this week to appear before a grand jury as part of the Justice Department’s vast probe into the deadly insurrection on the U.S. Capitol.
Navarro stated that it was a preemtive strike against the lawsuit to Magistrate Zia Faruqui in court. It simply flouts the rules of good faith and fair process.
Navarro, a Trump trade advisor, stated that he received the subpoena from the FBI at his Washington, D.C. home last week. Prosecutors sought testimony from a Trump White House employee in order to investigate the attack for the first time. Prosecutors confirmed that the indictment was delivered Thursday night.