Former Trump White House official Peter Navarro, who faces criminal charges for not testingifying before Congress about his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection, tried on Friday to delay his upcoming trial because he’ll be too busy on a book tour discussing—no joke—his role in that very insurrection.
Navarro’s attempt met stiff resistance from federal prosecutors, who called the delay tactic “clearly unwarranted.”
“The government has serious concerns about delaying the trial for a book tour,” said Assistant US Attorney Amanda Vaughn. “The public has an interest in the resolution of this case.”
US District Judge Amit P. Mehta would have none of it, tentatively scheduling the trial for Nov. 17.
Navarro used his relatively obscure White House post as head of Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy in the closing weeks of the Trump administration to whip up an official “report” documenting an alleged mass voter fraud that allowed Joe Biden to win the 2020 presidential election— a lengthy screed that cites disproven conspiracy theories.
He then wrote a book about his experience at the White House that detailed his secret plan—after former President Donald Trump’s election loss—to keep him in power. The plan, which he dubbed “the Green Bay Sweep,” was to pressure Vice President Mike Pence to misuse his role as the person officially counting electoral ballots and instead reject them, delaying the certification of Biden’s victory and giving Republican-controlled state legislatures time to overturn the election.
When The Daily Beast questioned him further about the plan in December 2021, Navarro revealed that right-wing provocateur Steve Bannon had helped him develop the blueprint and that Trump himself “was certainly on board with the strategy.”
The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot subpoenaed Navarro in February, but he refused to show up or turn over documents and cellphone communications that would allow congressional investigators to probe what Navarro did—and whether the coup attempt violated the law. So, legislators in March held him “in contempt of Congress” and referred his case to the Department of Justice, which indicted him this month.
At his arraignment on those charges in a District of Columbia federal court on Friday morning, Navarro’s lawyers tried to convince the judge that the former Trump official needs extra time to prepare his defense. John Irving told the judge there were “complicated issues” and major “constitutional” questions in Navarro’s case, pointing to the kinds of issues that Bannon’s legal team is raising in his own criminal case for the same charges of refusing to testify before the Jan. 6 committee.
However, Judge Mehta—who oversees many criminal cases involving the violent rioters who stormed the Capitol building during that insurrection—shot those arguments down and said, “It’s not that complicated a case.”
On Friday, Navarro pleaded “not guilty,” although outside the courtroom he keeps showing the opposite.
Navarro, who started the case by representing himself, continues to appear on TV making wildly incriminating statements by asserting that he did indeed try to delay the certification of the 2020 election and has repeatedly admitted that he had no intention of ever testingifying before the congressional panel . But he vehemently defends his view that doing so was fair, because he flatly rejects the idea that his boss lost the election fairly.