The arrest of Peter Navarro on a contempt charge after refusing to cooperate with a House subcommittee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 events at the United States Capitol establishes a precedent that is “destructive to democracy,” according to Harvard Law Professor Emeritus Alan Dershowitz on Newsmax Saturday.
“It’s as if he was summoned to testify about what he told his priest, doctor, or lawyer,” Dershowitz said on Newsmax’s “The Count,” adding that Navarro was jailed when he refused to cooperate because former President Donald Trump had invoked executive privilege.
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“Instead of the government going before a court and the judge deciding whether or not the privilege applies, he asserts the privilege and is instantly charged.” If the court decides that executive privilege does not apply in this instance and orders Navarro to testify, Dershowitz argues that he might be punished in contempt for refusing.
“However, you cannot be held in contempt of Congress without a judicial order,” Dershowitz argued. “However, if the shoe were on the other foot, as it will be if Republicans take control of Congress or the Senate, they would use this precedent to go after Biden administration officials and arrest them if they refused to divulge material.”
As a result, he argued, Navarro’s detention is justified as “destructive to democracy, the rule of law, and the idea of privilege, whether it be a priest’s or a doctor’s privilege, privileged lawyer privilege, or executive privilege. I’m surprised that the Justice Department filed it without a judicial decision that he was forced to testify.”
This implies Navarro’s indictment is “unconstitutional,” and it’s a “genuine scandal” far more troubling than Clinton lawyer Michael Sussmann’s acquittal, he said. According to Dershowitz, Navarro’s arrest suggests that others who were close to the past president might be detained as well, even if they can establish a greater claim of executive privilege because of their proximity to Trump.
“That is for a court to decide, not for a biased congressional committee with nearly all Democrats and a few anti-Trump Republicans to be allowed to ask the Justice Department to execute a subpoena unilaterally without first going to court,” he added.
“It’s a really dangerous precedent, and I don’t believe the courts will accept it. When this indictment is contested, I believe the challenge will be upheld. But, of course, in these politicized times, even court rulings are partisan. Although it is impossible to be positive, it is incorrect to charge him under these conditions.”
In March, the committee decided to hold Navarro in contempt, along with former Trump communications adviser Dan Scavino Jr., for failing to cooperate with subpoenas. In April, the House of Representatives decided to submit the case to the Department of Justice.
During a court hearing on Friday, Navarro allegedly made a variety of outrageous claims, including that the government is guilty of “prosecutorial wrongdoing” and that the Jan. 6 committee is “working in conjunction” with the White House. “This isn’t how America is supposed to work,” Navarro said of his arrest, which he claims occurred at an airport. “No American should be abused in this manner as these folks did to me today.”
After leaving court on Friday, Navarro had a nervous breakdown, claiming that being shackled after being charged with a crime is a violation of the Constitution. “It’s terrorism,” he continued, before comparing his detention to that of “Stalinist Russia.” Because of his experience working in the White House, Navarro has long argued executive privilege prevents him from testifying.
Others have made similar claims, but they haven’t been successful. In March, Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) remarked of Navarro and Scavino, “They’re not fooling anybody.” “They have to cooperate with our inquiry.” They have steadfastly refused to do so. And that’s illegal.”
Navarro also claimed on Friday that the indictment is a “preemptive attack” in response to a lawsuit he filed earlier this week against the Jan. 6 committee. In his lawsuit, Navarro claims that the panel is abusing its authority and that he should not be forced to comply with their request.
If Republicans win the 2024 election, he also adds that if he is “not dead or in prison,” he will “lead the charge” to subpoena Democratic leaders. During a tense interview with MSNBC’s Ari Melber on Thursday, he mentioned the filing. He assured Melber, “You bet your ass I’ll lead the attack,” before identifying specific Democrats he intends to target.
In his complaint against the Jan. 6 committee, Navarro argued that George Washington would be on his side. Navarro has been candid about his participation in the scheme to reverse the 2020 election results for a long time, sometimes startlingly so.
Last year, he released a biography and gave multiple interviews in which he detailed the “Green Bay Sweep” plan he claims he devised with former Trump strategist Steve Bannon. (In November, Bannon was charged with contempt of Congress.) Navarro’s “Green Bay Sweep” strategy aimed to keep Trump in power by having Vice President Mike Pence postpone the Electoral College’s certification so that Congress and state legislatures could investigate charges of fraud.
“My premise, which is fact,” he told Rolling Stone in January, “is that President Trump only wanted peace and calm so that we could meticulously implement the Green Bay Packers Sweep play, and thus remand the votes to the states, and in all likelihood, then move the election into the House of Representatives, because of the substantial fraud that was visible.”
Navarro reported earlier this week that he had gotten a subpoena from the Justice Department, which is conducting its own investigation into the Capitol incident, in his case against the Jan. 6 committee. Navarro was ordered to produce documents relating to Jan. 6, including “any conversations” he had with the former president, according to the subpoena.