September 23, 2023

By Devan Cole | CNN

The federal decide overseeing Peter Navarro’s contempt of Congress felony case on Monday referred to as his protection arguments “fairly weak sauce,” injecting last-minute uncertainty into how the previous Donald Trump adviser will be capable of defend himself throughout his upcoming trial.

Navarro, Trump’s one-time commerce adviser, testified Monday in his protection throughout a key pre-trial listening to in his case. He’s dealing with fees for defying subpoenas issued to him by the Home choose committee that investigated the US Capitol assault on January 6, 2021, claiming he did so as a result of Trump asserted government privilege within the matter.

However through the almost three-hour listening to earlier than US District Choose Amit P. Mehta in Washington, DC, the decide appeared extremely skeptical of Navarro’s testimony, noting it’s from one aspect of the dialog.

“I nonetheless don’t know what the president mentioned,” Mehta advised Navarro’s lawyer Stanley Woodward, referring to a February 20, 2022, name throughout which Navarro mentioned it was made clear the previous president was invoking government privilege. “I don’t have any phrases from the previous president.”

“That’s fairly weak sauce,” the decide added, referring this time to a remark Navarro says Trump made to him about regretting not letting him testify. The remark had been utilized by Navarro and his crew to bolster their argument that Trump did invoke privilege as a result of his subsequent remorse indicated as a lot.

“The report is barren, there may be nothing right here, even after your shopper’s testimony,” Mehta advised Woodward.

Woodward mentioned throughout a listening to earlier this month that Trump shouldn’t be anticipated to testify on behalf of Navarro, probably undercutting a key protection.

The absence of testimony from Trump might depart Navarro, who has pleaded not responsible, with out direct proof that he was performing on the course of the previous president when he declined to testify and switch over data to Congress.

The shortage of direct proof exhibiting that Trump directed him to not adjust to the subpoena at instances appear to frustrate even his personal authorized crew throughout Monday’s listening to.

“I don’t assume anybody would disagree that we want there was extra right here from President Trump,” Woodward advised Mehta.

However, he added later, “I don’t consider that diminishes the presumption of privilege” communicated from Trump to Navarro.

The decide mentioned he would decide later this week on whether or not Navarro’s testimony may very well be utilized in his trial subsequent month.

Navarro’s felony case is ready to go to trial subsequent month.

‘No query’ privilege was invoked

Throughout his testimony on Monday, Navarro mentioned that in conversations with Trump following the issuance of the committee subpoena on February 9, 2022, the previous president made it identified that he didn’t need Navarro to cooperate with the committee.

“It was clear throughout that decision that privilege was invoked – very clear,” Navarro mentioned at one level, referring to a name he mentioned happened on February 20, 2022.

“There was no query that the privilege had been invoked from the get-go – none,” he added later.

Take a look at of congressional authority

Navarro’s case could also be a significant take a look at for congressional authority and the attain of the presidency. The trial would observe the conviction by a jury of one other former Trump adviser, Steve Bannon, on the identical fees final 12 months. Bannon is interesting.

Navarro after the listening to advised reporters it’s a “crucial case concerning the constitutional separation of powers.”

“And I believe that, as his case proceeds, it’ll be necessary to do what they name settle the regulation on a few of these questions,” he mentioned.

Navarro additionally urged individuals to donate to his authorized protection fund, saying the case has “already price over a half one million {dollars}.”

Navarro stood at some stage in the listening to along with his arms folded, whilst he fielded questions from the attorneys. When he was off the stand, he paced forwards and backwards close to the desk his crew of attorneys was seated at, and he turned testy with the prosecutor as soon as they started their cross-examination, inflicting the decide to instruct him on the right way to conduct himself throughout that portion of his testimony.

Liz Harrington testimony

A part of the listening to centered on a disagreement between the 2 sides on the right way to embrace written testimony from a key protection witness – Trump aide Liz Harrington – who had beforehand been set to supply in-person testimony throughout Monday’s listening to.