DOJ seeks 6-month prison term for former Trump adviser convicted of contempt of Congress

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White House trade adviser Peter Navarro listens to a news conference about a presidential executive order relating to military veterans outside of the West Wing of the White House in Washington, March 4, 2019.

Leah Millis | Reuters

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department wants former Trump White House adviser Peter Navarro to spend six months behind bars after being convicted of criminal contempt of Congress for ignoring a subpoena.

Federal prosecutors said in a court filing Thursday that Navarro “deserves severe punishment” that includes a $200,000 fine in addition to prison time. He is scheduled to be sentenced Jan 25.

Navarro, 74, was found guilty last year on two counts of contempt after he rejected a congressional subpoena to testify before the now-defunct Jan. 6 committee and provide relevant documents.

“The Defendant chose allegiance to former President Donald Trump over the rule of law,” prosecutors wrote in Thursday’s sentencing memo.

“He cloaked his bad-faith strategy of defiance and contempt behind baseless, unfounded invocations of executive privilege and immunity that could not and would never apply to his situation,” they added.

Navarro’s attorney, Stanley Woodward, declined to comment on the Justice Department’s sentencing request.

Navarro has said that he ignored the congressional subpoena because Trump told him to invoke executive privilege, an argument that was later rejected by prosecutors and a judge.

In a separate court filing Thursday, Navarro’s attorneys asked that the court not sentence him to more than six months in prison and to pay a $200 fine.

“Despite the government’s effort to label Dr. Navarro as an insurrectionist, the reality is that his conviction arises solely from a conviction for his refusal to comply with the Select Committee’s subpoena and has nothing to do with the events that occurred at the Capitol on January 6, 2021,” Navarro’s lawyers wrote in their filing.

Navarro isn’t the first former Trump adviser to face the possibility of imprisonment after defying a Jan. 6 committee subpoena. In 2022, Steve Bannon was sentenced to four months behind bars plus a $6,500 fine — prosecutors had sought six months in prison and a $200,000 fine.

Bannon has appealed his conviction, and a federal judge suspended his sentence during the appeal process.

Prosecutors drew comparisons to Bannon in their sentencing memo for Navarro.

“Like Stephen Bannon before him, throughout the pendency of this case, the Defendant has exploited his notoriety — through courthouse press conferences, his books, and through podcasts—to display to the public the reason for his failure to comply with the Committee’s subpoena: a disregard for government processes and the law, and in particular, the work of the Committee,” prosecutors wrote.