A federal grand jury returned an indictment on Thursday charging Trump White House adviser Peter K. Navarro with two counts of contempt of Congress relating to his refusal to testify before the House Jan. 6 Committee.
Navarro was taken into custody on the charges Friday morning, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia told TPM.
He’s the first Trump official to face arrest for events related to the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection. Stephen K. Bannon, charged with contempt relating to his refusal to cooperate with the investigation last year, was allowed to surrender of his own volition.
The House issued a subpoena for Navarro’s records and testimony in February. Navarro refused to comply, after which point the House referred him for prosecution over contempt of Congress.
Navarro is scheduled for his first court appearance this afternoon.
Navarro filed a bombastic lawsuit on Tuesday in federal court over a federal grand jury subpoena he received last week, alleging that it was invalid because the investigation on which it was based – the House Jan. 6 probe – was itself illegitimate.
Per a copy of that subpoena obtained by TPM, federal prosecutors wanted Navarro to provide records relating to the February 2022 subpoena he received from the panel, as well as “any communications with former President Trump and/or his counsel or representatives.”
That subpoena demanded that Navarro comply by 9 a.m. on Thursday. He did not return a pre-indictment request from TPM asking whether he had complied.
Navarro had argued that the records sought by the Committee were protected by executive privilege, held by Trump. That argument — raised by Trump in October 2021 against a Jan. 6 Committee subpoena for White House records held by the National Archives and repeated many times since — had already been rejected by a slew of federal judges up and down the judiciary.
The panel sought Navarro’s testimony after he published a book chronicling his exploits around the 2020 election, including his description of a plan he dubbed the “Green Bay Sweep.” That would have seen Vice President Mike Pence reject Electoral College slates from states that Biden won, delaying the Jan. 6 certification of his victory.
In the ensuing delay on Capitol Hill, Republican-controlled legislatures in the states that Trump lost would, according to the plan, “decertify” the results, theoretically causing Biden’s count in the Electoral College to plummet, thereby assuring a Trump victory.
The focus on delaying proceedings has gained significant attention in light of what took place on the day itself: a mob, egged on by Trump, invading the Capitol and blocking Biden’s certification for many hours.
Prosecutors said in the indictment that Navarro failed to comply with two portions of the House subpoena: one for testimony, and one for his records. The grand jury charged him with one count of contempt for each.
Navarro, prosecutors said, only gave the panel one justification for failing to comply: that former President Trump had invoked executive privilege.
“Accordingly, my hands are tied,” Navarro purportedly wrote in a Feb. 27 email cited by prosecutors.
Prosecutors wrote that the panel “rejected NAVARRO’s stated reason for noncompliance,” before demanding that he appear for depositions. Navarro ignored those requests.
Separate filings in the case docket suggest that Navarro was arrested on Friday.
Prosecutors asked for — and received — a sealing order from the judge, saying that disclosing the indictment would give Navarro “the opportunity to flee, tamper with witnesses or evidence, or take other steps to interfere with the criminal case” before his arrest.
“The United States has a compelling interest in arresting the Defendant in a manner that is safe and which mitigates against the risk of destruction of evidence,” the prosecutors’ filing reads.
Federal prosecutors unsealed the indictment on Friday, after it was returned on Thursday.
Receiving the federal grand jury subpoena last week appears to have spurred Navarro to launch a pre-indictment media tour.
Apart from filing the bombastic lawsuit which described the criminal subpoena as the “fruit of a poisonous tree,” Navarro appeared on MSNBC Thursday night, promising to “lead the charge” in impeaching President Joe Biden if Republicans take control of Congress this fall.
“We’ll start with the impeachment of Biden,” he said.