Navarro hints at Trump’s nod to defy subpoena

“I don’t want to do this,” Woodward said.

“So what do I do?” the judge replied.

Navarro, who was an ally in Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election and orchestrate efforts by congressional Republicans to challenge Joe Biden’s victory, argues that Trump privately told him to assert executive privilege rather than testify to his contacts with the former president in the race- until January 6. The panel wants to ask Navarro about his contacts with Trump amid the former president’s multifaceted efforts to grab a second term he didn’t win.

Navarro has publicly described developing a strategy for Republican members of Congress to challenge the election results and help buy time to convince state legislatures to replace Biden’s presidential voters rolls with pro-Biden voters. Trump. His partner in that strategy, longtime Trump ally Steve Bannon, was recently sentenced to four months in prison for his own contempt of Congress conviction for similarly defying the select committee.

Whether a former president can successfully assert executive privilege to stave off a congressional investigation is a relatively untested legal question. That he can do so when the incumbent president – Biden – has rejected such a request is even less likely to survive a legal challenge. But Mehta said he finds it difficult to face the issue because he has no evidence that Trump ever asserted privilege in the first place.

“You didn’t give me anything,” the judge told Woodward. “The idea that a court is supposed to read the tea leaves when it comes to claiming presidential privilege strikes me as – I’m mystified by that.”

Woodward said all he could offer was reassurance that Navarro and Trump were in regular contact — and that Navarro believed that was what Trump wanted him to do.

Mehta insisted on knowing who could prove that such a conversation had taken place.

“Two people,” replied Woodward – alluding to Navarro and Trump. In addition to resisting any effort to obtain Trump’s testimony, Woodward said Navarro was also unlikely to testify given his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent during his own criminal proceedings.

Woodward also suggested that two grand jury witnesses — an attorney for Trump whom he did not name and Trump campaign spokeswoman Liz Harrington — confirmed that Trump and Navarro maintained direct communication.

Trump’s lawyer, Woodward said, indicated he did not send a letter to the select committee on Trump’s behalf because he believed Navarro was already aware of Trump’s position and could relay it himself. . When asked if she believed Trump had asserted Navarro’s testimony privilege, Harrington told the grand jury, “I would imagine so,” Woodward said.

Mehta seemed unlikely to support Navarro’s efforts to dismiss the case, but struggled with the tangle of vague and largely untested precedents and Justice Department opinions regarding Congressional subpoenas against former executive members.

Late in Friday’s hearing, Mehta said he would try to keep Navarro’s trial on track to start Nov. 16, but that start hinges on Mehta concluding an even more high-profile trial for the members of the Oath Keepers linked to the storming. of the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

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