Former trade adviser Peter Navarro was found guilty Thursday of contempt of Congress for not complying with a subpoena from the House of Representatives committee that investigated the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Navarro, who promoted groundless claims of mass voter fraud in the 2020 election, refused to testify or turn over documents to the House panel that investigated the insurrection attempt, prompting a 12-member jury to find him guilty of two counts of contempt.
Both charges are punishable by up to one year in prison. A sentencing hearing was scheduled for January 12, 2024.
The verdict came after a one-day trial for Navarro, during which the defense did not present any evidence or call any witnesses.
Ahead of the trial, Navarro said he did not need to comply with the January 6 committee’s order because then-President Donald Trump had invoked executive privilege.
U.S District Judge Amit Mehta ruled that Navarro could not use the defense of executive privilege — which shields some executive branch records and communications from disclosure — because the former trade adviser did not present evidence that Trump formally invoked the doctrine.
“The day that Judge Mehta ruled that I could not use executive privilege as the defense in this case, the die was cast,” Navarro said outside the courthouse after the ruling. He will appeal the conviction.
Prosecutors said Navarro acted as if he were “above the law” when he defied a subpoena for documents and a deposition from the House committee.
“Peter Navarro made a choice,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Aloi said in her closing argument Thursday. “He chose not to comply with a congressional subpoena. Our government only works when people play by the rules. And it only works if they are held accountable when they do not.”
Navarro is the second former aide to the former president to be convicted for defying orders from the January 6 committee. Steve Bannon was convicted last year on two contempt counts, and his case is on appeal.
Trump, meanwhile, faces a federal indictment in Washington and a state indictment in Georgia over his efforts to overturn his 2020 election defeat to President Joe Biden. Trump denies any wrongdoing.
Some information in this report came from Reuters and The Associated Press.