Federal prosecutors acting for the Department of Justice have given more details about the arrest of former Trump aide Peter Navarro, contradicting his account of the event and describing outlandish, combative behaviour on the part of the notorious 2020 election denier.
Mr Navarro was arrested and indicted for criminal contempt of Congress in June this year. The charge relates to his refusal to cooperate with the select committee investigating the 6 January Capitol riot and the events leading up to it; Mr Navarro has publicly described how he played a key role in formulating the failed plan to have Mike Pence effectively overturn Joe Biden’s election in Congress.
Having pled not guilty, Mr Navarro is now trying to compel the government to release more evidence to him via discovery, claiming that it has been holding back information to which he is entitled. However, in a filing to the US District Court for the District of Columbia, the Justice Department disputes his claim in the bluntest terms.
“While the volume of discovery might be small, its volume is not a reflection of its thoroughness,” the document reads. “Instead, it reflects the straightforward nature of this case—the Defendant received a subpoena, ignored the subpoena’s document demand, and refused to appear for testimony despite the admonition that he must.”
Alongside dismissing Mr Navarro’s discovery demand on its merits, the department also gives a withering account of the events leading up to his arrest, which he has repeatedly described in right-wing media as unjust, excessive and deliberately humiliating – a description the department calls “a misrepresentation of the facts and his posture towards the government at the time of his arrest”.
According to the filing, while Mr Navarro claims he was unfairly barred from self-reporting to authorities instead of being arrested, law enforcement does not normally offer that option to “combative” defendants who do not yet have legal representatives.
“And only a few days before,” the document says, “when the case agents attempted to interview him and serve him with a subpoena at his residence, the Defendant at first refused to open the door and then, when he did, told the agents to “get the f*** out of here.”
(At this point there appears a pointed footnote: “This interaction was recorded and produced in discovery to the Defendant on June 14,2022. The Government can provide it to the Court if needed.”)
The department goes on to say that given Mr Navarro “has an extensive history of seeking out news coverage”, it chose to arrest him in an out-of-view location at an airport so as “to avoid a media circus”. His claims that he was treated unusually badly, the government team says, are “meritless”.
Mr Navarro, who is next month releasing a book entitled Taking Back Trump’s America: Why We Lost the White House and How We’ll Win It Back, has yet to issue a response to the filing.
He is one of several key members of the Trump team to have refused to cooperate fully with subpoenas from the 6 January select committee, among them former chief of staff Mark Meadows and far-right agitator Steve Bannon. Mr Bannon was found guilty at a trial last month.