Peter Navarro Fails to Prove Executive Privilege Claim, Contempt Trial Proceeds

A federal judge, Amit Mehta, has ruled against Peter Navarro, a former senior White House adviser to Donald Trump, in his attempt to prove that Trump asserted executive privilege to prevent his testimony before the House Jan. 6 select committee.

This ruling, issued on Wednesday, paves the way for Navarro’s contempt-of-Congress trial scheduled for September 5th. He faces charges for defying a committee subpoena regarding his involvement in Trump’s efforts to undermine the 2020 election.

Navarro has maintained that he was barred from appearing before the Jan. 6 committee due to Trump’s assertion of privilege. However, he has not provided direct evidence to substantiate this claim, and Trump and his legal team have refrained from confirming whether Navarro accurately represented their discussions.

Judge Mehta cited Trump’s consistent failure to corroborate Navarro’s assertions as the primary factor in concluding that Trump did not indeed intend to prevent Navarro’s testimony. The absence of a formal invocation of executive privilege and a lack of authorization from Trump to Navarro were crucial aspects considered in the ruling.

The trial proceedings, anticipated to be brief, are set to commence with jury selection next Tuesday. The ruling signifies that Navarro cannot argue before the jury that he was under the belief that Trump’s privilege assertion prohibited him from complying with the select committee’s subpoena.

Additionally, Judge Mehta highlighted that even if Navarro could demonstrate Trump’s assertion of privilege, the committee’s questions were expected to cover topics unrelated to his communications with Trump, thereby falling outside the scope of any privilege claim.

Having grappled with the intricate and unsettled legal aspects surrounding executive privilege, Mehta granted Navarro a final opportunity on Monday to present evidence that Trump explicitly instructed him to disregard the committee’s subpoena. However, the judge ruled on Wednesday that Navarro had failed to meet the burden of proof required to convince him of Trump’s explicit instruction.

The ruling underscores the complex legal dynamics at play and maintains the focus on Navarro’s upcoming trial for contempt of Congress.

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