January 29, 2023

EXECUTIVE PRIVILEGE: Trump makes last ditch effort to derail top aide’s upcoming trial

EXECUTIVE PRIVILEGE: Trump makes last ditch effort to derail top aide's upcoming trial

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Donald Trump made a half-hearted attempt to keep his former senior advisor, Peter Navarro, out of the legal hot seat as the Trump ally’s trial for contempt of Congress nears.

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The former President’s team filed a letter in federal court on Monday in what appears to be an attempt to subvert the decision of Judge Amit Mehta to reject Navarro’s claims of executive privilege.

“It is critical to the functioning of the Office of the President that your communications with President Trump remain confidential,” attorney Evan Corcoran wrote on Trump’s behalf. “Such confidentiality ensures that President Trump could obtain your candid counsel and advice without concern about the possibility of disclosure to third parties.”

The letter addressed to Navarro, comes across as more witness tampering than a plea to the court.

“This confirms President Trump’s position that, as one of his senior advisors, you 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,” Corcoran wrote.

District Court Judge Amit Mehta dismissed Mr. Navarro’s assertion that he is covered by executive privilege – pointing out that Mr. Trump sent letters explicitly forbidding former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and former Deputy Chief of Staff Dan Scavino, from cooperating with the Jan. 6th Select Committee, but didn’t do the same with his former advisor.

Despite the lack of evidence, Navarro claimed that the former President insisted in a private conversation that he declare privilege, but Judge Mehta wasn’t buying it.

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“Defendant has failed to come forward with any evidence to support the claimed assertion of privilege,” the judge wrote. “And because the claimed assertion of executive privilege is unproven, Defendant cannot avoid prosecution for contempt.”

With less than a week before Navarro’s trial, to say the timing of the letter is suspect would be an understatement.

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The former President has been relatively absent in the case of his former top aide despite the congressional committee’s criminal referral several months ago.

Though it’s unlikely that Judge Mehta will take the letter from a member of Trump’s legal team with anything other than a grain of salt, it does beg the question – why is Trump finally acting now?

Original reporting by Kyle Cheney at Politico.

Follow Ty Ross on Twitter @cooltxchick

Ty Ross

News journalist for Washington Press and Occupy Democrats.

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