As the January 6th Committee considers whether or not to charge former Trump WH Chief of Staff Mark Meadows with contempt and Steve Bannon's own contempt trial gets underway in the weeks ahead (probably), Trump has named a third player he expects to keep his mafia code of omerta in the latest round of January 6th Committee subpoenas in former Trump trade representative Peter Navarro.
Former President Donald Trump told his former White House trade adviser to defy a House committee that subpoenaed him in a probe into the Trump administration’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I’m telling Peter Navarro to protect executive privilege and not let these unhinged Democrats discredit our great accomplishments,” Trump said in a statement on Saturday.
Peter Navarro, who was director of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy and assistant to the president, was subpoenaed Thursday by the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus. Trump’s directive opens up another front in his effort to keep former aides and allies from cooperating with congressional inquiries and demands.
Trump lawyers have already instructed several others, including Steve Bannon and former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to defy subpoenas to testify and turn over documents to a House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Whether executive privilege grants them immunity is a question that’s likely to take some time to wind through the courts.
Democrats who control the House voted in October to hold Bannon in criminal contempt of Congress for his defiance and referred the matter to the Justice Department for prosecution. A federal grand jury indicted him on two counts of contempt of Congress this month.
Representative James Clyburn of South Carolina, the Democrat who chairs the coronavirus panel, has said Navarro was subpoenaed after refusing to cooperate with requests from the committee.
The subpoena demands that Navarro produce documents by Dec. 8 related to his work on the administration’s pandemic response and to appear for a deposition on Dec. 1. That includes evidence that he complied with federal laws on the preservation of presidential records.
The Committee was willing to burn Bannon in a court fight that will almost certainly be dragged out until SCOTUS can bury it and the Committee's mandate expires at the end of next year. Bannon will never testify, and worst case for him is he flees the country. Meadows, as I linked at the top of the post, still has hopes of being in the next Republican administration or a major lobbyist player, so he'll most likely cooperate.
Navarro I think will follow suit. We'll see, as much of the Committee's work will stop in the next six weeks due to the holidays. But the larger point is that time is not on the Democrats' side here. It's already been ten months, and we've gone through almost half of the Committee's max of two years.
After Mueller and impeachment, it's definitely time to temper expectations here.