February 6, 2023

Former White House trade adviser Peter Navarro’s contempt trial for defying the Jan. 6 committee’s subpoena is coming up in less than a week. And Trump’s lawyers are asserting once more, in a last-ditch effort at proving something, that Navarro was right to have blown off the congressional subpoena because he was protected by executive privilege.

In a new letter addressed to Navarro, Trump attorney Evan Corcoran states that the former White House official “had an obligation to assert executive privilege on his behalf and fully comply with the principles of confidentiality stated above when you responded to the Committee’s subpoena.”

The letter is clearly an attempt to sway U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta, who refused to dismiss the cases against Navarro ahead of his contempt trial, citing the lack of evidence on Navarro’s part. Navarro has maintained since he defied the Jan. 6 panel’s subpoena that he was shielded from being compelled to testify and hand over records to the committee by executive privilege. Navarro has argued that Trump told him in a private conversation to assert executive privilege in response to the congressional panel’s request.

The problem is this latest letter from Corcoran does not reference that private conversation.

In Mehta’s previous ruling rejecting the motion to dismiss, he noted that Navarro provided no evidence to back up his claimed assertion of privilege, and had failed to offer “a sworn affidavit nor testimony from him or the former President.” 

“And, because the claimed assertion of executive privilege is unproven, Defendant cannot avoid prosecution for contempt,” Mehta wrote last week.

And thus the last-ditch Trump effort:

“It is critical to the functioning of the Office of the President that your communications with President Trump remain confidential,” Corcoran wrote. “Such confidentiality ensures that President Trump could obtain your candid counsel and advice without concern about the possibility of disclosure to third parties. President Trump considers the conversations and correspondence you had with him, like those he had with his other senior aides, to be protected against disclosure by executive privilege.

Count us skeptical that this last-minute effort is going to be enough to convince a judge that a former president’s advisers can wriggle out of congressional testimony whenever they want to.

The Best Of TPM Today

Here’s what you should read this evening:

Failed New Mexico GOP Candidate And Alleged Shooting Mastermind Denied Bail

Senate Republicans Wish House GOP Well In Their Debt Ceiling Fight And That’s About It

Report: Classified Documents Found At The Home Of Former VP Pence

Judge Hears Arguments On Whether To Release Georgia Grand Jury’s Trump Report

Yesterday’s Most Read Story

DOJ Accuses FBI Official Of Concealing Massive Cash Payments From Foreign Gov’t — Josh Kovensky

What We Are Reading

George Santos claims he survived ‘assassination attempt,’ had shoes stolen off his feet — NY Post

War on drugs locked him up; now he’s a cannabis entrepreneur — Associated Press

Trump withdraws another lawsuit against NY Attorney General Letitia James — CNN

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