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US: Former Trump official convicted of contempt for refusing to cooperate with 2021 Capitol riot probe

Trump's trade adviser Peter Navarro said that he did not have to comply with the probe as the former US President had invoked executive privilege to protect certain documents from disclosure.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee Washington Published on: September 08, 2023 7:04 IST
Peter Navarro, former US President Donald Trump's trade
Image Source : AP Peter Navarro, former US President Donald Trump's trade adviser

Former US President Donald Trump's trade adviser Peter Navarro was convicted on Thursday for contempt of Congress for refusing to cooperate with a US House of Representatives committee that was investigating the violent riots on the Capitol building on January 6, 2021.

A 12-member jury found Navarro guilty of two counts of contempt for defying a subpoena from the committee as well as refusing to testify or turn over documents related to the riot. Navarro maintained that he did not have to comply with the panel's demand as Trump had invoked executive privilege that protects some executive branch records from disclosure.

US District Judge Amit Mehta on Thursday said that Navarro cannot use this as a defense as he did not put evidence that Trump formally invoked executive privilege in response to the committee's subpoena. Prosecutors also told the jury that the former trade adviser acted as if he was "above the law" while refusing the subpoena.

Additionally, prosecutors said that Navarro should have handed over documents believed to be protected under the legal doctrine of executive privilege as much of the material was already available to the public.

The latest sentence against Navarro carries a minimum of 30 days and a maximum of one year in prison. He became the second Trump aide to be face contempt of Congress charges after ex-White House adviser Steve Bannon. A sentencing hearing for Navarro has been scheduled for January 12, 2024.

What happened in the 2021 Capitol riot?

Over 2,000 people barged into the US Capitol in January 6, 2021 after the presidential elections where President Joe Biden had defeated Donald Trump. The latter made several unsubstantiated claims of election fraud and called on then-Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the results. These claims were also promoted by Navarro himself.

The investigative committee recently found that Trump’s lies about widespread election fraud to conversations with some of his allies ahead of Election Day, evidence that his plan to overturn the results was “premeditated". They also accused Trump of criminally engaging in a 'multi-part conspiracy' to overturn the results of the 2020 elections.

The Capitol insurrection in 2021 became one of the biggest police investigation in the history of the US and hundreds of people were charged with criminal offenses. Five people also died during the riot.

On Wednesday, Indian-origin Republican presidential aspirant Vivek Ramaswamy made a major statement when he promised to pardon the accused, whom he called 'peaceful protesters', if elected to power. 

Meanwhile, Trump is facing a federal indictment and a state indictment for his role in engineering the riot on US Capitol in 2021 to overturn his loss to Biden. So far, Trump has denied any wrongdoing and said he was acting within the parameters of the law.

ALSO READ | US: Indian-American prez aspirant Vivek Ramaswamy says he'll pardon 'peaceful protesters' of 2021 Capitol riot

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