The no-frills FBI arrest of Donald Trump’s former trade adviser Peter Navarro for defying a subpoena is likely a “hard message” from the Department of Justice that it’s not “fooling around,” a former federal prosecutor said Saturday.
Navarro was charged with two criminal contempt of Congress counts for defying a subpoena to appear before the Jan. 6 House committee and failing to provide demanded documents.
He angrily complained to a judge and reporters outside court after his arrest Friday at an airport in Washington, D.C., that he was handcuffed and locked in a jail cell. He told journalists that the subpoenas he defied were “ultra vigorous,” “unenforceable,” and “unconstitutional.”
Former federal prosecutor and noted defense attorney Shan Wu said on CNN Saturday that he saw “absolutely” nothing improper with Navarro’s arrest. Navarro said he was denied a phone call after his arrest, but since he’s representing himself, Wu was confused about what attorneys would have been contacted.
Wu said it is a “little unusual that in a white-collar case they wouldn’t have allowed him to self-surrender. That could indicate ... they might have been concerned that it was hard to reach him and he might flee, given he was representing himself. And [they] may have been trying to send a message.”
He added: “I don’t think it’s a coincidence of the timing” that Navarro was arrested when officials also announced that Trump ally Dan Scavino and former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows would not be charged for defying their subpoenas.
Navarro’s arrest “may have been to make that point they’re not fooling around, that when they [do] indict, they’re going to treat people quite seriously,” he added.
Navarro has claimed he cannot cooperate with the House committee because he’s protected by executive privilege from “the president,” meaning Trump. Not only has Navarro already spilled several details he now refuses to discuss in his recent book, but executive privilege isn’t Trump’s to grant; it’s President Joe Biden’s. And Biden has refused to grant executive privilege to those targeted by the House committee investigating last year’s insurrection.
So it’s pretty much a “slam dunk against” Navarro on that point, said Wu.
Check out the full interview here: