Former Trump advisor Peter Navarro said he’s facing “a number of hurdles” in hiring a legal team as he confronts criminal contempt of Congress stemming from his defiance of subpoenas from the House committee investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol.
In a letter Wednesday, addressed to the federal judge presiding over his prosecution, Navarro alleged misconduct by the FBI and federal prosecutors, who he said were “pushing very hard for a ‘speedy trial’ as part of its strategy to exploit the unrepresented.”
“Clearly, the prosecution’s strategy is to take advantage of an individual without adequate representation,” Navarro wrote in his letter to Judge Amit Mehta. “At this point, I am very actively seeking a legal team but am facing a number of hurdles.”
During an initial court appearance, Navarro was represented by a public defender. But he indicated that he might proceed without an attorney, saying, “I don’t want to spend my retirement savings on lawyers.”
His letter raised questions about his appetite for representing himself, and it left unclear whether his challenges fielding a legal team were financial in nature. The copy of his letter posted on the public court docket redacted — or blacked-out — lines in which Navarro appeared to elaborate on his struggles.
Navarro is set to appear before Mehta, an Obama appointee, in federal court on June 17. But he asked in his letter for Mehta to delay that arraignment hearing by 45 days — an extension that would push the routine court appearance to late July or early August.
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“At this point, I remain without legal representation and the prosecution has already begun to file motions despite my request for delay. In this vacuum, the prosecution is placing me at a severe disadvantage,” Navarro wrote.
Navarro’s letter came on the eve of the House January 6 committee’s first public hearing, a primetime proceeding that will feature testimony from a Capitol police officer and a documentary filmmaker who followed members of the far-right Proud Boys group. The highly-anticipated hearing is the first of about a half-dozen the House panel plans to hold through June.
With his indictment in early June, Navarro became the second onetime Trump advisor to face criminal contempt of Congress charges over his refusal to comply with a subpoena from the House committee investigating January 6. Trump’s former chief White House strategist, Steve Bannon, pleaded not guilty to two contempt charges last year and is set to stand trial in July.
The contempt charges each carry a maximum sentence of a year in prison, as well as a fine of up to $100,000. Federal prosecutors in Washington, DC, declined to bring similar contempt charges against former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and former deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino in response to congressional referrals, according to a copy of a letter US attorney Matt Graves sent to House counsel Doug Letter.
Earlier on Wednesday, federal prosecutors asked Mehta for an order preventing Navarro from publicly disclosing evidence in his case. Prosecutors highlighted public statements in which Navarro alleged misconduct by the Justice Department and described the House panel investigating January 6 as the “kangaroo committee.”
More recently, the Justice Department noted, Navarro appeared on Fox News’s primetime television show, “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” and claimed that the Justice Department employed a “terrorist strategy to arrest him.”
Navarro “has demonstrated through his public statements that he intends to litigate the merits of the pending charges in the press,” federal prosecutors said. “Moreover, proceeding pro se, the Defendant does not have an attorney who can monitor his use of non-public discovery material and who is subject to the District’s clear rules limiting extrajudicial statements and other efforts to taint the jury pool.”