The Justice Department’s starting to play hardball in its bid to take back the government records that ex-White House adviser Peter Navarro continues to clutch onto via his non-official email account.
Prosecutors filed a request in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Monday requesting that the judge order Navarro to hand over the records — which are “rightly the property of the United States” under the Presidential Records Act — that he sent and received on his personal ProtonMail server.
“There is no genuine dispute of fact that Dr. Navarro used at least one unofficial email account to conduct official business, that those records are the property of the United States, and that Dr. Navarro has refused to return the records to the United States,” the DOJ’s filing stated. “Indeed, his counsel has expressly admitted as much.”
The request focused on Navarro’s emails as they relate to the Trump administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The messages address topics such as the need for ventilators, the creation and deployment of National-Guard based [sic] rapid response teams, and the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID,” the prosecutors wrote.
The DOJ’s request on Monday is an escalation of the civil lawsuit the department filed against Navarro last month demanding the records on his ProtonMail account after the ex-White House official ignored the National Archives and Records Administration’s (NARA) request for them.
NARA was unaware of Navarro’s ProtonMail account until the House’s COVID-19 government response subcommittee flagged it in its investigation, according to the DOJ.
Prosecutors alleged in the lawsuit that Navarro now refuses to turn over the documents unless the government promises him a “grant of immunity” for returning them.
Navarro’s legal troubles with the federal government don’t stop at the private email server issue; the former Trump adviser is also facing contempt of Congress charges for refusing to comply with the House Jan. 6 Committee’s investigation into the Capitol attack.
The DOJ’s fight with Navarro over his email server parallels the department’s investigation into ex-President Donald Trump’s handling of White House records that he improperly squirreled away at his Florida Mar-a-Lago resort.
Read the DOJ’s latest filing below: