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Top Trump aide Peter Navarro rejects plea deal from prosecutors

Washington — Donald Trump's top White House trade adviser, Peter Navarro, rejected a plea offer extended to him by the government in his ongoing contempt of Congress criminal case, prosecutors said Friday. 

Navarro was indicted earlier this year on two counts of criminal contempt of Congress after refusing to comply with demands from the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack that he hand over pertinent documents and sit for a deposition. 

The plea deal that Navarro rejected stipulated that he admit to one of the two charges brought against him and comply with the House subpoena in a manner satisfactory to the Justice Department. In exchange, according to federal prosecutors, the government would limit its sentencing request for Navarro to a maximum of 30 days in prison. Each of the misdemeanor counts carries a maximum sentence of one year in prison if convicted. 

Former Trump Aide Peter Navarro Appears For Arraignment In DC District Court
FILE: WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 17: Former Trump White House Advisor Peter Navarro arrives for his arraignment at the Prettyman U.S. Courthouse on June 17, 2022 in Washington, DC. / Getty Images

The select committee first subpoenaed Navarro for records and testimony in early February. Investigators believe Navarro worked with former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon and others to craft a plan to change the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. The February request from the committee also notes that in his book, Navarro described the plan as the "Green Bay Sweep" and wrote it was "the last, best chance to snatch a stolen election from the Democrats' jaws of deceit."

Navarro refused to comply, citing executive privilege and his role as former senior adviser to the one-time president and was subsequently charged with criminal contempt of Congress. 

In court on Friday, Navarro's defense team characterized the prosecution, set to go to trial in November, as a case of "first impression," arguing there is neither a historic nor legal basis for contempt charges against a former White House aide. Navarro's lawyers also alleged a certain "degree of animus" by the Justice Department after the defendant was arrested last month at a D.C.-area airport, where he planned to board a flight to Nashville for a TV appearance. 

After his arrest, Navarro criticized the law enforcement response, accusing investigators of rebuffing his attempts to negotiate with an attorney and instead placing him in handcuffs and leg irons. 

His attorneys again raised what they characterized as the government's "outrageous" treatment of Navarro at the time of his arrest on Friday to Judge Amit Mehta, the federal judge overseeing the case and said they plan on asking for more evidence about the nature of his arrest.

"It seems curious to me…why the government treated Mr. Navarro's arrest in the way that it did," Mehta concurred in court on Friday.

Prosecutors have maintained in court filings that Navarro made "numerous misrepresentations" about his arrest.  

The U.S. attorney's office in Washington, D.C. declined to comment. 

On Monday, another top Trump aide, Steve Bannon, will be the first defendant accused of criminally ignoring a Jan. 6 committee subpoena to go to trial.

Navarro pleaded not guilty to both counts and recently hired two attorneys to represent him after initially representing himself in court. 

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