Former economic adviser to Trump, Peter Navarro, was declared guilty of contempt of Congress after a jury deliberated for almost five hours on Thursday.
He was charged on two counts: neglecting to provide requested documents and not showing up for a deposition, both in relation to the House committee’s probe into the January 6 events. During the announcement of the verdict, Navarro stood silently, showing no reaction.
After the pronouncement, Navarro’s lawyer, Stan Woodward, demanded a mistrial, alleging that jurors might have encountered protesters displaying signs related to Jan. 6. However, the prosecution countered, stating they observed no such protesters. The presiding judge, U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta, delayed any decision on the mistrial until evidence was presented.
Navarro is expected to be sentenced on January 12. Speaking outside the courthouse, he claimed his conviction was due to links with January 6, not for contempt. He further said that he expects his case to escalate to the Supreme Court, emphasizing on the topic of executive privilege for senior White House staff.
For Navarro’s conviction, the jury needed to be convinced of four key elements. These included that he had been subpoenaed, the required information was relevant to the probe, he did not oblige, and that his non-compliance was intentional.
In his defense, Woodward suggested that there was no clear proof about Navarro’s whereabouts on the day of his scheduled deposition, indicating room for doubt. Conversely, the prosecution argued that Navarro was fully aware of his legal obligations.
Navarro had previously cited executive privilege as his reason for not complying, saying that former President Trump had invoked it. Throughout the trial, both sides cautiously approached the topic, as Judge Mehta had earlier ruled that there was no evidence of Trump formally invoking this privilege.
Evidence presented showed Navarro communicating with committee staff and claiming that Trump had invoked executive privilege. Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Aloi mentioned in her closing statements that Navarro chose loyalty to Trump over adhering to the subpoena. Woodward countered, stating there was no concrete evidence of such loyalty. After the verdict, however, Navarro did express his affection for Trump and criticized Joe Biden’s approach to the judiciary.
The prosecution presented three witnesses, all ex-members of the Jan. 6 committee, and the defense rested without presenting their case. Notably, Navarro is not the first Trump associate to face such charges. Earlier, former White House adviser Steve Bannon was convicted on similar grounds but remains free pending an appeal.