This afternoon, Trump’s econ crank Peter Navarro and his lawyers appeared before a skeptical US District Choose Amit Mehta to argue for dismissal of the contempt of congress scenario from him right after he informed the January 6 Pick out Committee to get bent and refused to clearly show up and testify.
Navarro and his buddy Steve Bannon weren’t coy about their plot to disrupt the certification of President Biden’s electoral certification on January 6, 2021. They dubbed their system the Environmentally friendly Bay Sweep, blabbed about it incessantly on Bannon’s display, and Navarro even wrote a book about it. Yet, when the committee came knocking, equally of them refused to have interaction at all, saying govt privilege.
Bannon’s trial took position in advance of Choose Carl Nichols, who refused to allow the defendant’s a variety of community demand and estoppel defenses based on memoranda from the Office environment of Authorized Counsel purportedly inferring categorical immunity on previous presidential advisors from congressional subpoena. Bannon was convicted on equally charges in July, but which is not halting his pal Pete from functioning the exact play.
Bannon’s assert to government privilege was particularly tenuous, due to the fact he was fired from the White Dwelling in 2017, not like Navarro who trapped it out to the bitter conclusion in 2021. But Bannon experienced a little something Navarro did not have, which was a letter from Donald Trump’s lawyer Justin Clark instructing him to “invoke any privilege you may possibly have” — not that it did him significantly fantastic.
Navarro has no such created communication. But he insists that the privilege was duly invoked — perhaps telepathically, in the exact way in which Donald Trump declassified files! — and consequently he had no duty to have interaction with the committee at all.
In accordance to his law firm Stanley Woodward, Navarro does have evidence while. It is “testimonial,” as in recognised to him and Trump.
Will the defense be placing the both of those people events on the stand? It will not, selecting “not to involve” the former president, and demurring that “we’re not well prepared to put our client on the stand.” And a lot more power to them, whilst it is somewhat a good deal to inquire the courtroom to just have religion that these types of evidence may exist and dismiss the scenario based mostly on it.
“You are not even telling me that he whispered in his ear. You have supplied me almost nothing,” Judge Mehta noted testily.
“We’re declaring Trump invoked,” Woodward responded.
“Based on that, you want me to dismiss the indictment?” the choose reported incredulously?
In simple fact, they did. Or, based mostly on the recommendation of a whisper, as well as testimony from Trump’s legal professionals to the grand jury that they did not invoke privilege in crafting for Navarro, as they did for Mark Meadows, Dan Scavino, and Bannon because “Dr. Navarro has his individual channels of conversation with the former president and is familiar with what his instructions are.”
This is nonsensical on its facial area. Meadows continues to be shut with the previous president, and Scavino seems to travel with him from rally to rally. Definitely they have the exact entry to Trump’s whispers as Navarro. But Bannon, Scavino, and Meadows had one thing Navarro did not have until eventually a short while ago, which was skilled counsel who sought out the former president’s consultant to safe a penned invocation.
Woodward experienced an reply for that a person, though, and it was that the committee was obliged to go negotiate with Trump to determine the scope of privilege, because Navarro could not potentially appear in and go over issues he’d by now penned about in his ebook with out authorization from the previous president.
“They made no energy to negotiate the scope of privilege with the privilege holder,” he complained to a skeptical choose, adding that “This entire prosecution could have been prevented with a phone contact.”
The courtroom was equally doubtful that Trump may have made a standing invocation order by crafting a typical letter expressing his want for Trump administration officials to refuse to cooperate with the coronavirus committee’s investigation.
Woodward also steered himself into rocky shoals when requested if an advisor could invoke privilege absent instruction from the president.
“The privilege belongs to the workplace,” he responded, only to have Judge Mehta shoot again that “The office holder has not invoked it,” a reference to the waiver of privilege by President Biden, the incumbent.
And that wasn’t the only trade that obtained testy.
“I really don’t feel which is fantastic law” Woodward mentioned about a precedential scenario invoked by prosecutors.
“DC Circuit, Supreme Court docket, which is not superior law?” the court docket replied.
In a ultimate Hail Mary go, an additional member of Navarro’s legal crew experimented with to claim that the prosecution by itself violated owing course of action, due to the fact Navarro had analyzed prior OLC memos and had the subjective perception that he had a magical cloak of immunity to congressional approach.
The court listened extra or less patiently to all the arguments, and did not rule on the motion to dismiss from the bench. It did, however, flip immediately to the challenge of scheduling the demo, with an eye to setting up on November 16. Which is not specifically auspicious for the defense’s lead to.
US v. Navarro [Docket via Court Listener]
Liz Dye lives in Baltimore where by she writes about legislation and politics.