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Pete Navarro’s contempt of Congress trial postponed

Pete Navarro’s contempt of Congress trial postponed

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A federal judge on Thursday delayed the trial of former Trump White House trade adviser Peter Navarro on charges of contempt of Congress until Jan. 11 and criticized prosecutors’ suggestion that a trial originally scheduled before Congress could potentially change hands in the new year could prompt his cooperation.

Navarro, 73, is set to stand trial next week on two misdemeanor counts of ignoring subpoenas for his testimony and documents from a House select committee investigating January 6 Attack on the Capitol.

That date is no longer available, said U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta, because of a lengthy Jan. 6 conspiracy trial before him in Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and four others. Now in its sixth week, Rhodes’ trial in federal court in Washington was postponed due to his recent battle with covid-19 and problems with the availability of witnesses.

In an unusually blunt argument against the delay, prosecutor Raymond N. Hulser said it was the “strong desire” of the U.S. attorney’s office in D.C. “to try this case while there is a committee,” meaning before the current Democratic-controlled Congress adjourns. Jan. 3, and the new Congress could be led by Republicans in connection with this week’s midterm elections.

Hulser said the U.S. attorney’s office took seriously its authority to prosecute a historically rare charge of contempt of Congress, including “bringing them and resolving them as quickly as possible.”

“If there is any possibility that a person can be convinced by the urgent nature of a criminal trial to say, ‘Okay, I’ll go and answer questions. I will provide the documents. We would like to be a catalyst in that,” said Hulser.

Mehta objected to the suggestion that the trial could be used to coerce cooperation, and Hulser made it clear that Navarro’s criminal case would move forward regardless.

“I understand the desire of the US Attorney, but I do not want these proceedings to be leveraged in the manner suggested by the US Attorney’s Office,” the judge said, noting that Navarro “remains free to provide documents or testify.”

Navarro’s attorney, Stanley Woodward, said his client The defense is that former President Donald Trump invoked executive privilege shielding his communications as a top presidential aide from Congress, and that it is up to the House to negotiate his cooperation with Trump, not Navarro. Mehta has yet to comment on the claim. Navarro pleaded not guilty to any count of the indictment, each of which carries a sentence of at least 30 days and up to one year in prison.

correction

An earlier version of this article misstated the trial date in Navarro’s case. This article has been corrected.



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