Peter Navarro, who served as the top White House trade adviser to Donald Trump, has been indicted on two counts of contempt of Congress after failing to comply with a subpoena from the committee probing the January 6 2021 assault on the US Capitol.
The indictment was announced by the US justice department on Friday. Navarro is due to appear before the federal court in Washington DC in the afternoon. If convicted, Navarro could face a minimum of 30 days and a maximum of one year in jail, as well as a fine of up to $100,000, for each of the counts.
During Trump’s presidency, Navarro was one of the main architects of the US’s trade confrontations with Canada and Mexico, European countries, and China. Those disputes caused severe diplomatic strains between Washington and many key trading partners, frequently rattling markets and blunting the US economic expansion.
Navarro did not respond to a request for comment on the indictment.
In addition to advising Trump on trade, Navarro was also one of his most loyal lieutenants in the wake of the November 2020 election, when Trump began questioning the legitimacy of Joe Biden’s victory and pushed for lawmakers to deny the certification of the results.
Although Steve Bannon, Trump’s former political strategist and adviser at the start of his presidency, has also been indicted for defying a January 6 subpoena from Congress, the charges against Navarro are the first to be levelled against a White House official who was present at the time of the riot.
“Navarro appears to have information directly relevant to the Select Committee’s investigation into the causes of the January 6 attack on the Capitol,” Bennie Thompson, the chair of the congressional panel investigating the riot, said when the subpoena was issued.
“He hasn’t been shy about his role in efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election and has even discussed the former president’s support for those plans,” Thompson added.
Navarro’s indictment comes as the January 6 congressional panel prepares to host its first public hearing next week, which is expected to shed new light on the push by Trump and his allies to overturn the results of the 2020 election — an effort that has raised fears that America’s democratic institutions could be in jeopardy.