Members Only | June 6, 2022 | Reading Time: 3 minutes

Trump’s inner circle gets tighter

Peter Navarro has a fool for an attorney.

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Former Trump advisor and self-proclaimed J6 coup plotter Peter Navarro has been indicted for contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena from the J6 committee. Navarro faces two counts of contempt, each punishable by a year in prison and a $100,000 fine. 

This is big news. It’s an indictment of someone in Trump’s inner circle who has already admitted to trying to overturn the election. 

Navarro made his subpoena public in his legal filing. He went on a media blitz to talk about it. This despite the fact that prosecutors asked him not to. It’s the kind of thing a lawyer might advise against. 

A lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client. 

But what if you’re not even a lawyer? 

Earlier this week Peter Navarro filed a rambling and at times bizarre 88-page complaint, pleading with a federal judge to quash the J6 committee subpoena and a new subpoena to provide the same documents or testify before a federal grand jury – presumably the same federal grand jury that just indicted him. The filing is widely regarded as a nuisance suit and a delaying tactic since its main arguments have already been rejected by federal courts. 

Navarro made his subpoena public in his legal filing. He went on a media blitz to talk about it. This despite the fact that prosecutors asked him not to. It’s the kind of thing a lawyer might advise against. 

Navarro is claiming he can’t testify, or even show up, because of executive privilege. The Supreme Court has already rejected that argument. One of the many other fatal flaws in Navarro’s argument is that executive privilege can only apply to conversations about your official job. “Coup plotter” isn’t a job description. 

Navarro’s actual job was that of trade advisor. His main qualification was an especially frothy loathing of China. He wore many other hats over the years, all of them fake. 

Navarro played at counter-espionage and falsely accused a staffer of being the leaker known as Anonymous. (It was Miles Taylor.) Navarro did a stint as an amateur viologist, accusing Dr. Anthony Fauci of cooking up covid. (It was bats.) As an amateur doctor, Navarro championed hydroxychloroquine as a cure for covid. (It was bunk.) 

Navarro later compiled the false allegations of voter fraud in the 2020 election into an 18-page memo the Post’s Philip Bump described as possibly the most embarrassing document ever written by a White House staffer. Navarro saw himself as providing the intellectual ammunition for GOP lawmakers to vote to overturn the election.

Upon leaving the White House, Navarro wrote a memoir claiming to have been the co-creator of something he called “The Green Bay Sweep.” The Green Bay Sweep is another way of describing the Trump/Eastman plan for Mike Pence to steal the election during the certification ceremony by sending the election “back to the states.” 

Trump and his cronies launched a massive pressure campaign against Pence that was so intense that Pence’s chief of staff warned the Secret Service that Pence might be in danger for defying Trump.

Navarro is the first member of Trump’s inner circle to be indicted for contempt, though a handful of others have been cited for refusing to testify before the J6 panel. The House voted to hold Steve Bannon and former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows in contempt. 

The J6 committee has reason to believe that Navarro asked Meadows and possibly others to contact Roger Stone to discuss January 6. Stone is a longtime Trump advisor and self-proclaimed dirty trickster. 

Stone played a key role in the “Stop the Steal” movement and worked closely with both Oath Keepers and Proud Boys – paramilitary groups whose members are facing charges of seditious conspiracy for their role in the storming of the US Capitol. 

The 72-year-old Navarro noted in his complaint that a sentence of one year represents over a quarter of his remaining life expectancy. 

Now he’s facing two contempt charges, each of which carries a one-year sentence. Navarro might want to hire a lawyer. 

Lindsay Beyerstein covers legal affairs, health care and politics for the Editorial Board. An award-winning documentary filmmaker, she’s a judge for the Sidney Hillman Foundation. Find her @beyerstein.

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