Contempt for Peter Navarro
Coups and Consequences
Hi, Ari here -- Today I have a breakdown of big news coming out of the January 6 Committee.
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Contempt Votes and Criminal Trials
Congress is continuing to investigate the January 6 insurrection. Most witnesses have cooperated -- over 750 and counting. Jared Kushner is set to testify this week.
Then there are a few holdouts.
Some have defied the committee and been indicted for it, like Steve Bannon. Some have raised possibly valid objections to cooperation, like Mark Meadows.
And then there is Peter Navarro, a former Trump White House aide who claims to be protecting “privileged” secrets, but then spills them in public. And admits his election plots.
The January 6 Committee just voted unanimously to hold Navarro in contempt, (along with another defiant White House veteran, digital aide Dan Scavino).
If Congress affirms that move, as it has in past precedents, then the Justice Department weighs whether to indict.
Congress must “make a case” for criminal contempt. The Jan. 6 committee cited Navarro’s statements in its contempt report, and then at the contempt hearing, Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), played a lengthy excerpt from one of my Beat interviews with Navarro as evidence.
“Navarro made multiple media appearances during which he discussed his various roles in the events that culminated in the January 6 attack,” she said, and cited our exchange to support the contention that Navarro has broken any legal privilege he may have had.
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It is striking to see Navarro’s own public statements used against him as evidence, especially in a serious proceeding that can lead to indictment and imprisonment, if one is found guilty. (Like everyone else, Navarro is legally presumed innocent.)
He did it, and he keeps talking about it
So, Navarro has spoken out in ways that likely break privilege. He has also touted his own thwarted plans to overthrow Trump’s lawful election loss.
As he told me in our first interview -- which put more scrutiny on him in the probe -- Navarro and Bannon concocted a “sweep” plot to overthrow the election:
We had over 100 congressmen and senators… ready to implement ‘The Sweep.’ We were going to challenge the results of the election, in the six battleground states... those states would decertify the election -- that would throw the election to the House of Representatives.
That failed. The idea was to abuse the certification process and state legislative powers to create a fake “question” about the outcome, and get the Republican House to then claim Trump won.
The new House contempt report also provides new evidence that Navarro’s plotting may have included discussions before and after the violent attack on January 6. The committee now has records showing multiple calls with Steve Bannon that day.
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There are many strands to the January 6 insurrection.
In a democracy, the government decides on accountability -- who to charge; and the citizens still decide culpability -- whether to convict the people who are charged. The free press is supposed to gather the facts, press the powerful, and ideally inform the citizens who will make those decisions. As journalists, it’s not our role to pronounce who is charged to convicted, but we will certainly keep trying to gather the facts and put on the pressure. In this instance, it seems the government has found some of that process yielded relevant evidence.
Do you think Congress was right to “use” Navarro’s statements against him? Do you think he should now cooperate with the investigation, and should he keep talking in public? As always, I will reply to subscribers in our discussion page:
P.S. Here’s some of our latest Beat coverage on the contempt votes:
Here’s my first interview with Navarro:
Of course the government was right to use Mr. Navarro's words against him. If someone kills another and says, "I did it," the government sure uses those words against him! This is no different. I think Mr. Navarro just needs to hire a good attorney and go sit quietly for a while in that big hole he's dug for himself.
As my oldest son…who was in the Air Force years ago and served in Intelligence listening to bad guys around the world…said, “Thank goodness for arrogant, stupid people. They lead us to the big fish.”