A former top adviser to ex-President Donald Trump, Peter Navarro, 72, was charged with contempt of Congress for refusing to cooperate with the House of Representatives committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.
WATCH Peter Navarro discuss the arrest with Tucker Carlson:
When discussing the arrest, Navarro told reporters: “They put me in leg irons, they stuck me in a cell, by the way. Just a historical note—I was in John Hinckley’s cell… They seemed to think that that was like an important historical note. That’s punitive. What they did to me today violated the Constitution.”
Mark Meadows and Daniel Scavino, two other close associates of the former president, will not face criminal charges despite a House vote recommending them.
The Justice Department said that Navarro was charged by a federal grand jury with one count involving his refusal to appear for a deposition before the Jan. 6 Select Committee and another for his refusal to produce documents in response to a subpoena.
At his 72-minute hearing, the former Trump adviser did not enter a plea before Magistrate Judge Zia Faruqui in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The Justice Department was accused by Navarro of “prosecutorial misconduct” for arresting him at a local airport as he tried to depart on a trip to Nashville and New York.
“I am … disappointed in our republic,” told Navarro to the judge after saying that the authorities ignored his request for them to contact an attorney and refused to allow him to make a phone call during his arrest.
His next court appearance was set for June 17, per reports.
Navarro, a longtime China hawk, advised Trump on trade issues and also served on his COVID-19 task force. Previously, he has contended that his communications are protected by executive privilege, a legal principle protecting a president’s communications.
His indictment came two days after Navarro filed a civil lawsuit against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the House committee, and also a week before the committee was due to hold the first in a series of public hearings on its investigation.
Calling it politically motivated, Trump has urged associates not to cooperate with the Democratic-led investigation, as reported.
The committee said in its subpoena that it had reason to believe that Navarro had information relevant to its investigation.
In his book, and also in media interviews, Navarro has said that he helped coordinate an effort – known as the “Green Bay Sweep” – to halt the certification of Biden’s victory and keep Trump in power.
If convicted, Navarro is facing a year behind the bars on each count. While he is also facing fines, a court-appointed attorney disputed a Department of Justice assertion that he could be fined as much as $100,000 on each count, arguing instead that the maximum penalty should be $1,000.
Arguing that the case against him stems from collusion between the Justice Department, Congress and the Biden White House, Navarro argued at length for delaying the criminal proceedings and instead moving forward with his civil suit against the committee.
“The prosecution has put me in an untenable position of conflicting constitutional interpretations. This is something that needs to get to the Supreme Court,” said Navarro.
Navarro is not the first Trump adviser to face criminal charges in the investigation, as Stephen Bannon, at one time the chief strategist for the former Republican president, was criminally charged in November for defying a subpoena.