Peter Navarro, the former White House adviser for Donald Trump who helped spread lies about the 2020 election, was sentenced to four months in jail on Thursday for defying a subpoena from the House committee investigating the Capitol attack on Jan. 6, 2021.
Navarro, 74, was convicted in September on two counts of contempt of Congress, refusing to give testimony and documents to the House Jan. 6 committee. The committee no longer exists after Republicans gained control of the chamber.
“They had a job to do and you made it harder,” U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta told Navarro at the sentencing. “It’s really that simple.”
The contempt of Congress charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of one month. Prosecutors with the Justice Department had sought six months for Navarro, saying earlier this month that he “chose allegiance to former President Donald Trump over the rule of law.”
Navarro has already filed a notice of appeal, and asked his supporters outside the courthouse to donate to his legal fund.
Despite his attorneys saying that he would not speak during the sentencing under their advice, Navarro said that he had an “honest belief that [executive] privilege had been invoked” when he received the subpoena, adding that he was “torn.”
“All they had to do was to make one phone call to the president and his lawyers,” Navarro continued as he pointed at the prosecutors, according to Washington outlet WUSA9. “I’m just saying one thing: if they wanted information, make a phone call. That’s it.”
Mehta said that the words “executive privilege” are not a “magical incantation” to avoid responding to a subpoena.
When the House Jan. 6 committee released its final report, it concluded that Trump engaged with his allies in a conspiracy to overturn the results of the 2020 election and failed to stop his followers from rioting at the Capitol.
Navarro has previously held press conferences about the case and his actions, and he wrote a book about his tenure as Trump’s senior trade adviser.
He has spoken openly about his efforts to stop the certification of the election in an attempt to keep Trump in power. Navarro released a report that, Trump falsely said, proved it was statistically “impossible” for him to lose, referring to it in his controversial tweet that encouraged his supporters to travel to Washington for a protest on Jan. 6, 2021.
“It’s not like somebody made a mistake here and now they’re having to pay the price,” former Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), who served on the committee, said last year after Navarro and Steve Bannon, another former Trump White House adviser, were convicted of contempt of Congress. Bannon remains free, pending an appeal in his case.
“They proactively, over and over, repeatedly ― and in some cases, either fundraised or bragged about it ― ignored a legal subpoena of Congress,” Kinzinger said at the time. “So I think they deserve, frankly, any jail time they get.”
Prosecutors wrote in their sentencing memo last week that “throughout the pendency of this case, the Defendant [Navarro] 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.”
Navarro “wrote a book on the very topic that was the subject of the Committee’s subpoena. He was happy to tell the world what he knew – but not Congress,” they continued. “He made his reasons for this abundantly clear. ... [He] placed his support for former President Trump over the rule of law.”