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Former Trump adviser Peter Navarro pleads not guilty, will fight contempt of Congress charges

Former Trump aide pleads not guilty to contempt
Former Trump aide Peter Navarro pleads not guilty to contempt of Congress 06:03

Washington – Former President Trump's trade adviser Peter Navarro pleaded not guilty Friday to two charges of contempt of Congress.

The charges against Navarro stem from his refusal to comply with a subpoena from the House select committee investigating the assault on the Capitol that took place on Jan. 6, 2021. The committee had asked Navarro to testify and provide documents related to the Trump administration's efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. 

Navarro's lawyers asked Friday that his trial date be delayed in order to allow him to promote his upcoming book in September, telling the court that it is "important to him for his livelihood." 

After his arraignment, Navarro complained to reporters about his treatment.

"I thought that we could handle this matter in a civilized way dealing with constitutional issues. Obviously being put in leg irons and having people want to put me in prison has changed matters," he said.

His lawyer, John Rowley, said that they had "never seen anything as outrageous as what happened to Mr. Navarro." 

"They put him in handcuffs; they put him in leg irons," Rowley said. "I can tell you, ladies and gentlemen, that does not typically happen to career criminals."

Judge Amit Mehta, who is overseeing Navarro's criminal case, previously rejected Navarro's request to delay his arraignment. In a June 8 letter to the judge, Navarro, who only recently hired a legal team after representing himself, wrote, "My very freedom here is at stake and I ask for the court's understanding that it will take time both to find the appropriate representation and time to develop an appropriate legal strategy." 

Navarro declined Friday to say how he was paying his lawyers, after recently telling Fox News that he would be "eating dog food" because lawyers are so expensive. 

Rowley announced he is dropping a separate civil challenge to the House Jan. 6 subpoenas and grand jury subpoena. Judge Mehta said all the charges in the civil case could be resolved in the criminal trial. 

Earlier, Mehta granted the Department of Justice's request for a protective order in the case to limit what evidence Navarro may release to the public. 

"Immediately after his initial appearance, in front of the courthouse doors, the Defendant voluntarily made an almost 18-minute extrajudicial statement about the pending criminal case," according to a Justice Department filing. 

Outside the courthouse after his arrest, Navarro addressed the press, calling the Jan. 6 House select committee a "kangaroo committee." 

"They're essentially acting as judge, jury and executioner," he complained. "Their mission, their clear mission is to prevent Donald John Trump from running for president in 2024 and being elected for president." 

But the committee has said it needs information related in part to Navarro's work on a post-election effort known as the "Green Bay Sweep," which aimed to reverse President Biden's victory over Trump. 

During his initial appearance earlier this month, Navarro was visibly angry at the prosecutors, calling them "despicable" and alleging prosecutorial misconduct. 

He has claimed investigators refused him an attorney, food and water, and "shackled" him in jail. CBS News confirmed Navarro was arrested at an unnamed airport gate before he was to board a flight to Nashville, an arrest he protested was unfair and unnecessary. 

The Justice Department responded to his various accusations in a filing late last week, writing, "The Defendant has made numerous false statements in the press about his arrest — for example, that he was deprived of food and water. In fact, when he asked, he was offered food and water, took it, then asked if he wanted more." 

Navarro recently sued the House committee and the D.C. U.S. Attorney's Office ahead of his indictment, alleging the subpoena he received "pointedly ignored all claims of executive privilege and testimony immunity." He challenged the legality of the subpoena, claiming the select committee is "neither duly authorized nor properly constituted," and the subpoena and resolution finding him in contempt of Congress violated separation of powers. Navarro has said his criminal case should be delayed until the lawsuit is resolved. 

Trump himself sought to block the release of White House records related to the Jan. 6 insurrection from the National Archives and Records Administration, citing executive privilege. But in January, the Supreme Court rejected his request.

If convicted, Navarro faces one year in prison for each of the two counts against him. Another Trump adviser, Steve Bannon, has also been indicted on contempt of Congress charges for refusing to comply with subpoenas from the Committee. He has pleaded not guilty and is set to stand trial this summer.

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