Washington (AFP) – Former White House trade director and close Donald Trump ally Peter Navarro was indicted Friday for contempt of Congress after rejecting subpoenas by the House committee investigating the January 6, 2021 assault on Congress.
Navarro, 72, was charged with refusing to appear for a deposition and for refusing to supply documents to the House Select Committee investigating the attack by hundreds of Trump supporters seeking to block congressional certification of Joe Biden as the 2020 presidential election winner.
Navarro was taken into custody and was to appear in court Friday afternoon, according to the Washington federal district court.
The committee, which is examining whether Trump, top aides and other senior Republicans instigated or directed the attack, believes Navarro could have information pertinent to the probe, the Justice Department said.
The committee said it had information showing that Navarro worked with former Trump political advisor Steve Bannon “to delay Congress's certification of, an ultimately change the outcome of, the November 2020 presidential election.”
After collecting documents and interviewing hundreds of witnesses in private, the committee plans to hold public hearings on its findings beginning June 9.
In a book Navarro published in November, he described creating a plan after the election, called the “Green Bay sweep” in a reference to American football, to reverse Biden's victory by blocking confirmation in the House.
He wrote that Trump was “on board with the strategy.”
Navarro, an economist, was subpoenaed in early February but did not supply documents requested or appear for questioning scheduled for March 2.
On Tuesday he sued the committee in Washington federal court alleging its investigation is illegal and it has no power to subpoena him.
But on Thursday a judge found procedural problems with the suit and ordered Navarro to refile it.
In convicted, Navarro faces 30 days to one year in prison and a fine of up to $100,000 on each contempt charge.
He was the second Trump aide after Bannon to be charged with contempt for rejecting committee subpoenas.
However, the Justice Department has not charged former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, even though he was found in contempt by the House of Representatives in December for refusing committee subpoenas.
Meadows has claimed that as a former top advisor of the president he has immunity from being compelled to testify to the committee.
But some believe Meadows, whose emails and text messages show he had numerous contacts and discussions with people linked to the January 6 violence, could be cooperating with the Justice Department's own investigation.
Another Trump aide, former social media manager Dan Scavino, was found in contempt by the House in April but has not been charged, either.