Former Trump aide Navarro sentenced to four months for contempt of Congress

Peter Navarro is the second Trump aide convicted of contempt of Congress charges.

Former Trump White House trade adviser Peter Navarro has pledged to appeal [Jose Luis Magana/AP]

Former US President Trump’s trade adviser Peter Navarro has been sentenced to four months in prison for contempt of Congress after refusing to cooperate with an investigation into the January 6 attack on the Capitol.

Navarro was found guilty of defying a subpoena for documents and a deposition from the House January 6 committee.

He pledged to appeal Thursday’s verdict and said he could not cooperate with the committee because Trump had invoked executive privilege.

A judge banned him from making that argument during trial, finding that he did not show that Trump had invoked it.

Navarro said in court before his sentencing that the House committee investigating the January 6 attack had led him to believe that it accepted his invocation of executive privilege, which shields some presidential records and communications from disclosure.

“Nobody in my position should be put in conflict between the legislative branch and the executive branch,” he told the judge.

He added that there was “no reason for the harsh punishment” prosecutors were seeking.

But US District Judge Amit Mehta refuted his claim and said, “You are not a victim. You are not the object of a political prosecution”.

“These are circumstances of your own making,” he added.

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump
Former President Donald Trump speaks at a primary election night party in Nashua, NH, as Vivek Ramaswamy, Senator Tim Scott and Eric Trump laugh [Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP]

Federal prosecutors in Washington had asked Judge Mehta to give Navarro a six-month sentence and a $200,000 fine, arguing that he chose to be loyal to Trump over the rule of law.

“The defendant brazenly defied Congress,” prosecutor John Crabb said.

Prosecutors also said that Navarro tried to “hide behind claims of privilege” even before he knew what the committee wanted, showing a “disdain” for the committee.

His sentencing came after a judge rejected his bid for a new trial after his lawyers argued that jurors might have been influenced by protesters outside the courtroom when they took a break from deliberations.

Navarro, 74, advised Trump on trade issues during his presidency and became a vocal supporter of Trump’s false claims of widespread voting fraud in the 2020 election.

Trump backers looked to prevent Congress from certifying President Biden’s victory during a clash with police and rampaging through the Capitol.

Navarro is the second Trump aide convicted of contempt of Congress charges, after former White House adviser Steve Bannon, who also got a four-month sentence but is free pending appeal.

The judge presiding over Thursday’s sentencing also criticised Navarro for his past statements that Biden and other prominent Democrats are behind his conviction.

“Joe Biden is not responsible for your prosecution,” the judge told Navarro.

“It’s those kinds of statements from somebody who knows better than that contributes to why our politics are so corrosive.”

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies