Former White House adviser Peter Navarro was sentenced to four months in prison Thursday for criminal contempt of Congress after he defied subpoenas for testimony from the House Jan. 6 select committee when it was investigating the attack on the Capitol in 2022, according to Politico and AP reporters in the room.
US District Judge Amit Mehta appeared not to buy arguments from Navarro’s lawyers that the former Trump aide had accepted responsibility for his actions during Thursdays sentencing hearing. As recently as last week, Navarro referred to the contempt case brought against him as “political prosecution.”
“I haven’t heard a word of contrition from Dr. Navarro since this case began,” Mehta said during Thursday’s hearing, according to NBC News. “Maybe we’ll hear some today, I suspect not.”
After he was convicted of two counts of criminal contempt in September, Navarro’s lawyers pushed for no more than six months probation for each count, while federal prosecutors urged the judge to hand down a six month prison sentence for each count, served concurrently.
“The Defendant chose allegiance to former President Donald Trump over the rule of law,” DOJ prosecutors said in a sentencing memo earlier this month. “He cloaked his bad-faith strategy of defiance and contempt behind baseless, unfounded invocations of executive privilege and immunity that could not and would never apply to his situation.”
Navarro has maintained throughout the trial that he did not comply with the select committee’s subpoena at Trump’s request, arguing that Trump had asserted executive privilege over any testimony his former advisor might give during a February 2022 phone call between Navarro and the former president. Mehta shot down the executive privilege argument in August when Navarro’s lawyers informed the judge that Trump wasn’t expected to testify to back up Navarro’s claims. At the time, Mehta called Navarro’s supposed evidence of executive privilege assertion “weak sauce.”
The Jan. 6 select committee subpoenaed Navarro in February 2022 for testimony and records relevant to his efforts to help Trump spread disinfo about the results of the 2020 election. Specifically, the panel sought information about Navarro, Steve Bannon and other Trump allies’ scheme to delay the certification of Joe Biden’s win on Jan. 6. Navarro also authored a report in December 2020 that made baseless claims about widespread misconduct in the 2020 election. Trump referenced Navarro’s report in a Dec. 19, 2020 tweet when he encouraged supporters to come to the Capitol for a “Big protest” on Jan. 6.
Navarro did not comply with the subpoena and was charged with two counts of contempt of Congress. Bannon also defied the panel’s subpoenas and was charged and convicted in 2022 on two counts of contempt of Congress. He was sentenced to four months in prison, but his case is currently on appeal.
Navarro’s lawyers asked Mehta last week to stay the sentence while they appeal the conviction as well.