Washington – Aduring the Trump administration will go on trial this week on two counts of criminal contempt of Congress after prosecutors alleged he willfully and illegally refused to respond to subpoenas for documents and testimony from the now-defunct House committee investigating does to the .
Jury selection inwill begin Tuesday when a federal judge has said he intends to clear at least 50 potential jurors from a pool of Washington DC residents to fill just over a dozen seats on the final jury panel.
Despite years of legal wrangling and briefing schedules between prosecutors and lawyers, Navarro’s trial is only days away, as prosecutors successfully argued that he should be banned from using certain statements he said were critical to his defense.
The January 6 commission initially subpoenaed Navarro for documents and testimony in February 2022 as part of its investigation into efforts to overturn the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. After he refused to comply with the requests, Congress decided to refer the case to the Justice Department. Navarro was subsequently indicted on two counts of criminal contempt of Congress. He pleaded not guilty.
Congressional investigators at the time were interested in efforts by Navarro and others to delay the Electoral College’s certification of the 2020 presidential election, a plan they reportedly dubbed the “Green Bay Sweep.”
Navarro’s defense team, made up of a former Trump criminal defense attorney and three attorneys currently involved in the special counsel’s investigation of classified documents, argued that their client should be allowed to tell the jury that the former president had directed him to appeal to protect the privilege of the executive against the subpoena. But prosecutors argued — and Judge Amit Mehta eventually agreed — that there was no evidence that former President Donald Trump had formally worked to protect Navarro from the commission. Navarro is therefore not allowed to present the privilege as evidence at trial.
“During that call, it was clear that the privilege was invoked, very clear,” Navarro told the judge last week at a hearing, describing a 2022 phone call he and Trump said he had had about the summons from the Commission. However, the defense was unable to provide any documented evidence that the privilege was officially invoked, a defect Navarro’s legal team acknowledged.
Tuesday’s proceedings mark the start of the Justice Department’s second criminal trial related to the expired select committee. Last year Trump adviser and former White House chief strategistof two counts of criminal contempt of Congress. He was sentenced to four months in prison, but he is currently out of prison as his defense team appeals the conviction based on a legal dispute of their own.
The committee referred other Trump aides — Mark Meadows and Dan Scavino — to the Justice Department for contempt, but theto prosecute them.
Navarro has consistently spoken out against his prosecution and unsuccessfully petitioned Mehta to drop charges against him.
If convicted, he faces up to a year in prison and a $100,000 fine per charge.