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Judge rejects former Trump adviser’s bid for a new trial after criminal contempt of Congress conviction

A federal judge on Tuesday denied Peter Navarro’s bid to redo his criminal contempt of Congress trial based on his claim that the jurors may have been influenced by political protesters when they took a break during deliberations.

Navarro – a former Donald Trump trade adviser – was convicted in September on two counts of contempt of Congress for not complying with a 2022 subpoena issued by the now-disbanded House select committee that investigated the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol.

“The evidence establishes that the jurors only interacted with each other and (Court Security officer Rosa) Torres in John Marshall Park,” US District Judge Amit Mehta wrote in a ruling Tuesday declining to grant Navarro a new trial.

“No one directed any words or displayed any signs at them. No one approached them. Moreover, the scene itself was relatively placid. There was no indiscriminate yelling or chanting. No one held a sign above their head. There were no activities resembling a ‘protest,’” the judge added.

“Simply put, Defendant has failed to show that he was prejudiced in any way by the jury’s brief break in John Marshall Park,” Mehta wrote.

Navarro’s attorneys had argued that jurors may have seen political protesters during the deliberations when they took a break at a park adjacent to the courthouse shortly before announcing they had reached a verdict, saying it may be grounds for a mistrial. Mehta said in his ruling that there were three men with signs in the park during the break, but that “none of them, nor anyone else, approached the jurors or directed any words towards them.”

“None of the men pointed their signs towards the jurors. In fact, the two men filming did not seem to recognize the group as jurors, let alone the jurors in Defendant’s case,” the judge wrote.

Navarro’s sentencing is set for January 25.

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