(WASHINGTON) — Former Trump adviser Peter Navarro “acted as if he was above the law,” prosecutors told jurors Wednesday during opening statements in Navarro’s trial on charges of defying a subpoena issued in February 2022 by the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
Navarro, who under Trump was the director of the White House Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, is being tried on contempt of Congress charges after he was indicted by a grand jury in June.
In his opening remarks Wednesday, lead prosecutor John Crabb said that the subpoena Navarro received from the Jan. 6 committee was a legal requirement and not “an invitation” or “voluntary.”
“Our system does not work if people believe they are above the law,” Crabb said. “Congress legitimately asked for information.”
Crabb showed jurors an email that Navarro sent to a committee staffer citing executive privilege before he was supposed to appear for testimony. The staffer, according to the email presented to the jurors, explained to Navarro that the “number of things the committee wanted to talk to [Navarro] about had nothing to do with Navarro’s work as a trade adviser.”
“He had to show up to his deposition … to cite the privilege, he had to do it on a question-by-question basis,” Crabb said. “That was made clear to Mr. Navarro. He didn’t show up.”
Navarro’s attorney, Stanley Woodward, said in his opening remarks that he agreed with prosecutors that Navarro did not submit documents or show up for testimony — but, he said, the Jan. 6 committee failed to contact former President Donald Trump to find out if he had asserted executive privilege over Navarro’s testimony and document production.
“The evidence in this case will not show that Dr. Navarro was not willful in his failure to comply,” Woodward said.
In subsequent testimony, David Buckley, a former staff director for the Jan. 6 committee, testified about the subpoena that was issued to Navarro, including the type of documents that were requested and the deadlines that Navarro was asked to meet.
Buckley said the committee was seeking to question Navarro about efforts to delay Congress’ certification of the election, a plan Navarro dubbed the “Green Bay Sweep” in his book, “In Trump Time.”
Navarro faces one count over his refusal to appear for a deposition in front of the committee, and another count for refusing to produce documents. If convicted on both counts, he could face a maximum of two years in prison and fines up to $200,000.
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