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Peter Navarro declines to defend himself in contempt trial

Former Trump adviser Peter Navarro declined to testify in his own defence on Wednesday during his contempt of Congress trial for refusing to cooperate with the January 6 House select committee.

Mr Navarro acted as if he was “above the law” when he ignored a February 2022 subpoena to appear before the committee investigating the Capitol riots, prosecutors said as they opened their case on Wednesday.

The former senior White House trade advisor didn’t ignore the subpoena, but rather told members of the House committee that he was protected by executive privilege, according to an opening statement from his attorney Stanley Woodward.

The trial in Washington DC heard testimony from several January 6 committee staffers, before the prosecution rested its case on Wednesday.

Closing arguments will be heard on Thursday morning before the jury is sent out for deliberations.

Mr Navarro was charged with two counts of contempt of Congress for his refusal to appear for a deposition before the January 6 committee, and for his failure to turn over documents.

The failure to cooperate prevented the committee from uncovering important information about the Capitol riots, Assistant US Attorney John Crabb said in opening arguments, according to the Associated Press.

“Congress believed Navarro had information about what happened on January 6, more specifically on why it happened,” Mr Crabb told the court.

Peter Navarro is on trial for contempt of court after he refused to cooperate with the January 6 committee (AP)
Peter Navarro is on trial for contempt of court after he refused to cooperate with the January 6 committee (AP)

For the defence, Mr Woodward compared the prosecutor’s arguments to a movie trailer that fails to live up to its own hype.

“It’s like one of those movies where you get nothing after the preview,” he said.

A judge has ruled that Mr Navarro’s reliance on executive privilege alone wasn’t a valid defence because he hadn’t produced any evidence that Donald Trump had invoked it.

Mr Navarro, who stood for the entirety of the six-hour hearing, faces up to a year in prison if convicted.