Posted 32 days ago
Peter Navarro, who served in the White House under former President Donald Trump, was sentenced Thursday for flouting a House Jan. 6 committee subpoena.
U. S. District Judge Amit Mehta sentenced Navarro to four months in prison and ordered him to pay a fine of $9,500.
That's two months shorter than the six prosecutors had sought, but Mehta drastically reduced the whopping $200,000 fine sought by the Justice Department.
A former adviser to the president on trade and manufacturing policies, Navarro was convicted in September of two counts of contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena for documents and a deposition from the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U. S. Capitol. The subpoena required Navarro to appear and produce documents in February 2022, and sit for a deposition in March 2022, but Navarro refused to provide the materials and testify. As a private citizen, he was indicted on June 2, 2022.
In announcing the sentencing decision, Mehta cited how Navarro had claimed a "two-tier system of justice" and described the Jan. 6 committee as a "kangaroo court."
"I have made clear my confusion about his arrest when he could have been offered self-surrender… The idea that he is subject to a two-tiered system of justice when he’s sitting here with 4 very capable lawyers is a real head-scratcher," the judge said. "The words executive privilege are not magical dust… it’s not a get out of jail free card. To not engage with the committee to work through the issues… to simply not engage, there’s no basis for it."
Mehta on Thursday had gone through a tedious recounting of the sentencing guidelines and came to the conclusion that there is a "zero to six months range," of imprisonment in this case, as well as a fine range of $500 to $9,500. Sentencing guidelines are only a suggestion, and the judge could have sentenced Navarro to a longer sentence if he saw fit.
At the sentencing hearing, Navarro spoke in his own defense, saying he defied the subpoena because he believed in "good faith" that Trump had invoked executive privilege.
"When I received that congressional subpoena, the second, I had an honest belief that the privilege had been invoked, and I was torn. Nobody in my position should be put in conflict between the legislative branch and the executive branch. Is that the lesson of this entire proceeding? Get a letter and a lawyer? I think in a way it is," Navarro said. "I am disappointed with a process where a jury convicted me, and I was unable to provide a defense, one of the most important elements of our justice system."
"The day of the attack on our Capitol was one of the worst days of my life. Desecration of our Capitol and the end of any argument about the Vote Count law on our books," he added.
Navarro's defense attorney said the court of appeal will determine if executive privilege applies. The judge noted how in citing executive privilege, another White House adviser, Kellyanne Conway "had an (DOJ Office of Legal Counsel) OLC opinion she could rely on," but Navarro had no such opinion and didn't hire representation.
"I have a great deal of respect for your client and what he accomplished and that makes it more disappointing," Mehta said, also noting that Mark Meadows, who also faced a Jan. 6 committee subpoena, "produced documents, produced texts, he didn’t testify, but at least he did something."... (Read more)