© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Peter Navarro, adviser to former U.S. President Donald Trump, faces reporters after he was convicted of contempt of Congress for refusing to cooperate with the House of Representatives committee investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on the
By Andrew Goudsward
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Former U.S. President Donald Trump’s trade adviser Peter Navarro was sentenced on Thursday to four months in prison for contempt of Congress after refusing to cooperate with an investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Federal prosecutors in Washington had asked U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta to give Navarro a six-month sentence, arguing that he chose allegiance to Trump over the rule of law.
“The defendant brazenly defied Congress,” prosecutor John Crabb said.
Navarro’s lawyers are asking for probation, arguing that the former White House adviser believed that he did not have to cooperate with Congress because he thought Trump had invoked the legal doctrine of executive privilege, which shields some presidential records and communications from disclosure.
Navarro was found guilty in September of two counts of contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena to turn over documents and provide testimony to a Democratic-led House of Representatives panel.
“They led me to believe that privilege had been invoked and they accepted it,” Navarro said on Thursday of the House committee.
Navarro added that there was “no reason for the harsh punishment” prosecutors were seeking.
The committee investigated the Jan. 6 attack by Trump supporters and broader attempts by the former president to overturn his 2020 election loss to Democrat Joe Biden.
Navarro has asked that any sentence be put on hold while he pursues an appeal. The judge did not immediately decide that issue.
The judge reprimanded Navarro for his past statements that Biden and other prominent Democrats are behind the prosecution.
“Joe Biden is not responsible for your prosecution,” the judge told Navarro. “It’s those kinds of statements from somebody who knows better that contributes to why our politics are so corrosive.”
Mehta previously determined that Trump had not clearly directed Navarro to assert privilege. Navarro was barred from making that argument to the jury during his trial.
Navarro, 74, advised Trump on trade issues during his presidency and served on a COVID-19 task force. He became a vocal supporter of Trump’s false claims of widespread voting fraud in the 2020 election. Trump supporters sought to prevent Congress from certifying Biden’s victory, clashing with police and rampaging through the Capitol.
The House committee had sought to interview Navarro about his plan, dubbed the “Green Bay Sweep,” to derail the certification of the election results.
Navarro is the second prominent Trump adviser to be convicted of contempt of Congress for spurning the House panel. Former Trump adviser and right-wing firebrand Steve Bannon was sentenced to four months in prison in 2022. He has avoided serving the sentence while he appeals his conviction.