According to Peter Navarro, the onetime trade adviser for ex-president Donald Trump found in contempt of Congress this April, the FBI showed up on his doorstep recently to serve him with a subpoena demanding his testimony regarding the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 and his communications with the 45th president.
But Navarro did not include a copy of the subpoena with the draft lawsuit now circulating in the press. Instead, he has only cited it by number in his draft lawsuit so far and described it to reporters. He claims that it demands he discuss with a grand jury why he refused to cooperate with Congress and members of the Jan. 6 committee when initially called upon in February.
Navarro cites executive privilege to quash this latest subpoena and argues he will not testify unless Trump authorizes him to do so. There is no evidence to date that Trump has asserted privilege over Navarro. The committee, historically, has indicated that Trump has not. Equally important to note is that this grand jury subpoena comes in addition to the subpoena the committee sent him already.
This subpoena indicates that the Department of Justice is not only busy at work on its own investigation into the events of Jan. 6, but it also suggests that prosecutors are climbing higher up the chain of command in Trump’s White House.
In February, the subpoena from the Jan. 6 committee specifically demanded that the former trade adviser to Trump discuss his alleged efforts with Steve Bannon, Trump’s crony and short-lived adviser, to pull off a nuanced strategy to overturn the 2020 election.
They fondly called that strategy the “Green Bay Sweep.”
Navarro discussed this ploy in his memoir at length and much of the strategy rested on the (ultimately bunk) legal theory that Mike Pence, then the vice president, had the constitutional authority to reject electors when Congress met for a joint session on Jan. 6. Pence did not. Under law, his role was largely perfunctory.
In his memoir Navarro pegged Pence as the “quarterback,” however, in a plan that would delay certification of the election for weeks while Trump, his allies in Congress, and friendly officials from various key battleground states would investigate so-called election fraud.
Multiple rigorous audits and a review by the Justice Department, including while the department was under the purview of Trump’s pick for attorney general, Bill Barr, have failed to turn up any proof of widespread fraud.
Navarro’s obstruction in the Jan. 6 probe earned him a contempt of Congress referral from the House to the Department of Justice this April. He was held in criminal contempt alongside Trump aide Dan Scavino.
Though Navarro says the grand jury subpoena he received this week is tied to the criminal contempt referral, as Politico noted first late Monday night, that would seem slightly bizarre:
But it would be unusual if a grand jury subpoena were related to his potential contempt case, since he would likely be the target of such a probe and less likely to be asked for testimony.
Navarro is not the first Trump ally to reportedly receive a grand jury subpoena. The right-wing conspiracy theorist and leader of the Stop the Steal movement, Ali Alexander, said in April that he received a summons from the Justice Department.
Alexander claimed prosecutors were focused heavily on those who organized the rally at the Ellipse on Jan. 6.
It is unclear where the Department of Justice stands in terms of charging Navarro with contempt.
It took the department just a few weeks to drop the hammer on Bannon after the House advanced a criminal contempt of Congress referral. Bannon now awaits trial. That is expected to get underway in July.
Navarro’s contempt referral has stagnated at the Department of Justice now for just over a month.
Another criminal contempt of Congress referral, this one for Trump’s former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, has been frozen in place since December.
President Joe Biden has waived Trump’s claim of executive privilege over various materials tied to Jan. 6, finding that those disclosures could be vastly important to the public interest.
Trump made multiple attempts to stop the transfer of his presidential records related to Jan. 6 but to no avail. The Supreme Court ruled against him on Jan. 19.
Navarro could not be reached for comment Tuesday but in the draft lawsuit, he is adamant that Biden does not have the authority to overrule Trump when it comes to executive privilege over these records.
“If, in this case, the committee and Joe Biden are able to effectively establish the principle that an incumbent can strip his predecessor of both executive privilege and testimonial immunity, just imagine what will happen to Joe Biden and his advisers if Republicans win the White House and House in 2024,” Navarro wrote in the 88-page lawsuit. “In fact, I don’t need to imagine this repeat of the strategic game. If I’m not dead or in prison, I will lead the charge.”
Republished with permission from Daily Kos.