WASHINGTON — (AP) — Trump White House official Peter Navarro was convicted Thursday of contempt of Congress charges filed after he was accused of refusing to cooperate with a congressional investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.
The verdict came after a short trial for Navarro, who served as a White House trade adviser under President Donald Trump and later promoted the Republican's baseless claims of mass voter fraud in the 2020 election he lost.
Navarro was the second Trump aide to face contempt of Congress charges after former White House adviser Steve Bannon. Bannon was convicted of two counts and was sentenced to four months behind bars, though he has been free pending appeal.
Prosecutors said Navarro acted as if he were "above the law" when he defied a subpoena for documents and a deposition from the House Jan. 6 committee. He was charged with two misdemeanor counts of contempt of Congress, both punishable by up to a year behind bars.
A defense attorney argued Navarro didn't ignore the congressional subpoena but instead told committee staffers to contact Trump about what material might be covered by executive privilege, something they did not do.
U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta ruled Navarro’s executive privilege argument wasn’t a defense against the charges, finding that Navarro hadn’t shown evidence Trump invoked it.
Prosecutors said that much of the material the committee sought was already publicly available and that Navarro should have handed over what he could and flagged any questions or documents believed to be protected under executive privilege.
Trump faces a federal indictment in Washington, D.C., and a state indictment in Georgia over his efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss to Joe Biden, a Democrat. He has denied wrongdoing and has said he was acting within the law.
The House Jan. 6 committee finished its work in January, after a final report that said Trump criminally engaged in a “multi-part conspiracy” to overturn the lawful results of the 2020 election and failed to act to stop a mob of his supporters from attacking the Capitol.