Former President Donald Trump lashed out against the recent conviction of his White House aide Peter Navarro, saying that only China is “celebrating” the decision.
“His testimony wouldn’t have mattered, anyway, because the ‘Committee’ QUICKLY and ILLEGALLY DELETED & DESTROYED ALL EVIDENCE & FINDINGS!”
“They should be the ones who are prosecuted, not Peter Navarro who, by the way, was single greatest trade negotiator against China, who paid the U.S. hundreds of billions of dollars during the Trump Administration (never paid ten cents before us!). Only China is celebrating the Navarro conviction!”
The administration had seen the tariffs as a necessary tool to counter Beijing’s predatory trade practices like dumping—the practice of foreign entities underpricing exports to drive out competitors from a target market.
Mr. Navarro was convicted on Thursday by a Washington, D.C., jury on two counts of criminal contempt of Congress after a deliberation that lasted for almost five hours.
The jury determined that Mr. Navarro had wilfully failed to comply with the House Jan. 6 Committee subpoena when he refused to testify before them and produce certain requested documents.
The two counts carry a maximum sentence of a year in prison and fines of up to $100,000. Mr. Navarro’s sentencing was scheduled for Jan. 12, 2024, by U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta.
Navarro and Executive PrivilegeMr. Navarro was indicted for contempt of Congress in June last year and pleaded not guilty to the charge. He had defied the Jan. 6 subcommittee’s subpoena on grounds that his communication with President Trump and the president's staff were protected under executive privilege, which can be invoked by a president to protect certain communications.
During a hearing at a federal court in late August, Mr. Navarro clarified that President Trump made it “very clear” that communications between the two would be covered under executive privilege.
However, Judge Mehta ruled that there was insufficient evidence to confirm this but prohibited him from disclosing the information to a jury, thus stripping away Mr. Navarro’s plan to use the justification of executive privilege in his defense.
“We are a nation of laws and our system does not work if people think they are above the law … If people like the defendant can choose to ignore the government’s subpoenas, the work of our government to serve its people cannot get done,” she said.
“It’s about the constitutional separation of powers that goes back to the days of George Washington when the legislative branch first began to try to meddle with the executive branch,” he said.
“There are very good reasons why executive privilege is sacrosanct. It’s the mechanism by which effective presidential decision-making is made. So this case is not about me.”
John Rowley, one of Mr. Navarro’s lawyers, said the court was wrong to block his client’s planned defense that his actions were covered by executive privilege since he was an advisor to the president. Such privilege was “part and parcel” of the office and “no express invocation of privilege is even necessary.”
Another Trump aide, Steve Bannon, was convicted last year on two counts of contempt against Congress after he refused to comply with the Jan. 6 subcommittee subpoenas. Though he was sentenced to four months in jail, Mr. Bannon remains free as he is appealing the conviction.