WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department on Thursday pushed back on an assertion from former Trump White House official Peter Navarro, who had claimed he was denied access to an attorney when he was arrested on contempt charges last week.
In a court filing, the Justice Department alleged that Navarro lied to the judge and to members of the media by claiming he was told he couldn’t call a lawyer and that he was denied food and water while being held for several hours after his arrest on Friday.
Navarro was indicted on charges that he refused to cooperate with a congressional investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. The 72-year-old was charged with one contempt count for failing to appear for a deposition before the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack and a second charge for failing to produce documents the committee requested.
During a court appearance on Friday, Navarro alleged that the Justice Department had committed “prosecutorial misconduct” and said he was told he could not contact anyone after being approached by an FBI agent at the airport Friday and put in handcuffs. He said he was arrested while trying to board a flight to Nashville, Tennessee, for a television appearance.
The Justice Department's assertion was made in a court filing responding to Navarro's request that his next court appearance be delayed.
"The Defendant bases his request for a continuance, in part, on his accusations that the Government is attempting to deprive him of counsel — for example, by allegedly denying him a call to counsel upon his arrest and filing motions in the normal course of proceeding with this case," the court papers say. “The Defendant’s claims are false.”
The Justice Department also released a copy of an FBI agent’s report on Thursday, which detailed Navarro’s arrest at Reagan National Airport and describes how agents accommodated him by giving him chocolates, allowing him time to comfort a travel companion at the airport and repeatedly adjusting his handcuffs by loosening them and giving more space between his wrists after he complained.
It said Navarro was advised of his rights and was told the agents didn’t want to interview him. He asked to make a phone call, the report said, and an agent told him they would contact his attorney if he gave them the name of the lawyer.
The report says Navarro responded, “I’m supposed to be on live television tonight. I’d like to call the producer and tell him I’m not going to be there. Can I have my phone?” The agent then told him that they would quickly make arrangements for a call with his lawyer, if he provided the attorney’s name.
Navarro said in court he was considering representing himself. He wrote in a court filing on Wednesday that he still did not have an attorney and asked the judge in his case to delay his next court appearance by 45 days.
During an appearance with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, Navarro claimed the FBI “went with the shock and awe terrorist strategy."
“Next thing I know, I’m in leg irons, handcuffs and strip-searched,” Navarro said. “People do not want to sit in solitary confinement in leg irons, denied food, denied water, denied an attorney. This is what we live in.”
The FBI report said Navarro was given a bottle of water, chocolate, nuts and dried fruits about an hour after he was arrested at the airport. Navarro “was asked if he wanted anything else to eat or drink which he declined,” the report said.
Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press