Posts tagged with "Peter Navarro"

Steve Bannon won’t be spending his prison term in a ‘Club Fed,’ as he had hoped

June 18, 2024

When former Trump adviser Steve Bannon goes to prison, he won’t be serving time at what’s known as a “Club Fed,” the most comfortable type of facility in the federal system, as he had wanted, according to people familiar with the arrangements, reports CNN.

Instead of a minimum-security prison camp, where many nonviolent offenders serve their time, Bannon—now a right-wing podcaster with a following of loyal Trump supporters—is set to report next month to the low-security federal prison in Danbury, Connecticut, one of the sources told CNN.

A federal judge ruled recently that Bannon must turn himself in by July 1 to begin serving a four-month sentence for contempt of Congress even as he appeals the case. His attorneys initially thought he may be able to do his time at a camp, the sources said.

But Bannon isn’t eligible for the lowest-level prison setup because he still has a pending criminal case against him in New York, where he is fighting the charges and set to go to trial in September. That case accuses him of defrauding donors in a fundraising effort branded the “We Build the Wall” campaign for a border wall between the United States and Mexico.

Bannon was convicted by a federal jury two years ago in Washington, D.C., for not complying with a subpoena for an interview and documents in the U.S. House’s January 6, 2021, investigation. He has remained a staunch Trump ally and has been a vocal supporter of his presidential reelection bid.

Bannon’s lawyers have written to the D.C. US Circuit Court of Appeals that his imprisonment shouldn’t happen this summer, as the trial-level judge has ordered, because he would be behind bars “for the four-month period leading up to the November election, when millions of Americans look to him for information on important campaign issues,” according to a recent filing for Bannon.

“This would also effectively bar Mr. Bannon from serving as a meaningful advisor in the ongoing national campaign,” Bannon’s lawyers wrote.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons has declined to comment—saying it could not release specific information on prisoners until after they’re in custody, for security and privacy reasons.

The prison in Connecticut where Bannon will live houses a large number of white-collar criminals, but it also may house violent and sex offenders in its men’s population. More than 1,000 male prisoners are in the Danbury facility.

It doesn’t have cells and, instead, houses its inmates in open pods. Yet it does have a noticeable barrier— referred to colloquially as “the wall”—between the prison facility and the outside world, which prison camps don’t have.

Bannon could still potentially face rougher prison environments. He may need to be held in a facility in New York City, such as the infamous Rikers Island jail, during his state trial proceedings if it takes place while he is still serving his federal sentence, one of the sources said.

His time in federal prison is likely to run through October if no appeals court intervenes, the person said.

Bannon and Peter Navarro—another Trump adviser who was sent to prison for contempt of Congress in the January 6 investigation—are not able to be released earlier than their four-month terms in prison, as some first-time offenders can be, because their sentences don’t include time under supervised release, people familiar with their situations tell CNN.

Navarro is set to be released on July 17. This means that both Navarro and Bannon will be behind bars during the Republican National Convention in mid-July.

Both men retained prison consultant Sam Mangel to help them have the best setup on the inside.

Bannon is awaiting word from the DC Circuit this week on whether a panel of three judges would be willing to keep him out of prison for the moment. He has already lost one round of appeals, but his lawyers say he intends to go to the Supreme Court.

Research contact: @CNN

Judge orders Steve Bannon to report to prison on July 1 for contempt of Congress sentence

June 6, 2024

On Thursday, June 6, a federal judge ordered former Trump adviser Steve Bannon to report to prison on July 1 to begin a four-month prison sentence for defying subpoenas from the January 6 Committee after a higher court rejected his appeal, reports NBC News.

Bannon was found guilty on two counts of contempt of Congress in July 2022 for defying the committee’s subpoenas, but his sentence had been put on hold while he appealed the case. U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols said Thursday he did not believe that the “original basis” for his stay of the imposition of Bannon’s sentence existed any longer after an appeals court upheld Bannon’s conviction. Bannon could still appeal Nichol’s ruling that he must report to prison.

Bannon was sentenced more than a year and a half ago, in October 2022, to four months behind bars—the same sentence currently being served by former Trump adviser Peter Navarro, who also refused to comply with a January 6 Committee subpoena.

“The defendant chose allegiance to Donald Trump over compliance with the law,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Molly Gaston, who now serves on special counsel Jack Smith’s team, told jurors during closing arguments in 2022.

Bannon’s sentence was put on hold pending appeal, and his lawyers made their case to a three-judge federal appeals court panel last November. The appeals court upheld Bannon’s conviction in May, and federal prosecutors soon filed a motion asking Nichols to order Bannon to report to prison. Federal prosecutors told Nichols there was “no legal basis” for the continued stay of the sentence after the federal appeals court rejected the appeal.

Bannon’s lawyers argued that the sentence should be stayed until they appeal it to the full appeals court and the Supreme Court. Any delay, of course, would benefit Bannon if Trump is elected president in November and decides — just as he did on the last day of his presidency on Jan. 20, 2021 — to pardon Bannon on federal criminal charges.

Bannon smiled as he went through security to enter the courthouse Thursday morning. A person nearby said “Trump ‘24!” to him and Bannon smiled and shook his hand.

Following the judge’s decision, he looked calm and stayed smiling. Bannon’s lawyer, David Schoen, sprang into action—becoming much more passionate than he’d been during the rest of the hearing.

Judge Nichols told him: “One thing you have to learn as a lawyer is that when the judge has made his decision, you don’t stand up and start yelling,” adding through Schoen’s protests: “I’ve had enough.”

“I’m not yelling,” Schoen retorted, saying he was “passionate.”

“You’re sending a man to prison who thought he was complying with the law, we don’t do that in my system,” Schoen said, calling the decision “contrary to our system of justice.”

“I think you should sit down,” Nichols responded.

Research contact: @NBCNews

Peter Navarro convicted of contempt of Congress over January 6 subpoena

September 11, 2023

Peter Navarro, a trade adviser to former President Donald Trump, was convicted on Thursday, September 7, of two counts of criminal contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena from the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, reports The New York Times.

The verdict—coming after nearly four hours of deliberation in Federal District Court in Washington, D.C.—made Navarro the second top Trump adviser to be found guilty in connection to the committee’s inquiry. Steve Bannon, a former strategist for Trump who was convicted of the same offense last summer, faces four months in prison and remains free on appeal.

Navarro, 74, stood to the side of his lawyers’ table, stroking his chin as the verdict was read aloud. Each count carries a maximum of one year in prison and a fine of up to $100,000. A hearing to determine his sentence was scheduled for January.

Speaking outside the courthouse afterward, Navarro repeatedly vowed to appeal his conviction.

“I am willing to go to prison to settle this issue, I’m willing to do that,” he said. “But I also know that the likelihood of me going to prison is relatively small because we are right on this issue.”

The jury’s decision handed a victory to the House committee, which had sought to penalize senior members of the Trump Administration who refused to cooperate with one of the chief investigations into the Capitol riot.

The trial also amounted to an unusual test of congressional authority. Since the 1970s, referrals for criminal contempt of Congress have rarely resulted in the Justice Department’s bringing charges.

Navarro was indicted last June on two misdemeanor counts of contempt—one for failing to appear for a deposition and another for refusing to provide documents in response to the committee’s subpoena.

The rapid pace of the trial reflected, in part, the fact that the case turned on a straightforward question, whether Navarro had willfully defied lawmakers in flouting a subpoena. Even before the trial began, Judge Amit P. Mehta, who presided over the case, dealt a blow to Navarro by ruling that he could not use in court what he has publicly cast as his principal defense: that Trump, personally, directed him not to cooperate and that he was protected by those claims of executive privilege.

Navarro, a Harvard-trained economist and a strident critic of China, devised some of the Trump Administration’s most adversarial trade policies toward that country.

Once the pandemic took hold, he helped coordinate the United States’s response by securing equipment like face masks and ventilators. But after the 2020 election, he became more focused on plans to keep Trump in power.

Navarro was of particular interest to the committee because of his frequent television appearances, in which he cast doubt on the election results and peddled specious claims of voter fraud.

He also documented those assertions in a three-part report on purported election irregularities, as well as in a memoir he published after he left the White House. In the book, Navarro described a strategy he had devised with Bannon known as the Green Bay Sweep—aimed at overturning the results of the election in key swing states that had been called for Joe Biden.

But when the committee asked Navarro to testify last February, he repeatedly insisted that Trump had ordered him not to cooperate. By asserting executive privilege, he argued, the former president had granted him immunity from Congress’s demands.

The question of executive privilege prompted more than a year of legal wrangling over whether Navarro could invoke that at a time when Trump was no longer president. Judge Mehta ruled last week that Navarro could not raise executive privilege in his defense, saying that there was no compelling evidence that Trump had ever told him to ignore the committee.

Asked after his verdict why he had not merely asked Trump to provide testimony that corroborated his claims, Navarro said the former president was too preoccupied with his own legal troubles.

“You may have noticed that he’s fighting four different indictments in three different jurisdictions thousands of miles away, OK?” he said. “We chose not to go there.”

In closing arguments on Thursday, prosecutors and defense lawyers dueled over whether Mr. Navarro’s refusal to cooperate with the committee amounted to a willful defiance of Congress, or a simple misunderstanding.

“The defendant, Peter Navarro, made a choice,” said Elizabeth Aloi, a prosecutor. “He didn’t want to comply and produce documents, and he didn’t want to testify, so he didn’t.”

Detailing the House committee’s correspondence with Navarro, Aloi said that, even after the panel asked Navarro to explain any opposition he had to giving sworn testimony, he continued to stonewall.

“The defendant chose allegiance to [former] President Trump over compliance with the subpoena,” she said. “That is contempt. That is a crime.”

Research contact: @nytimes

Records from Trump White House still missing, National Archives says

October 4, 2022

The National Archives informed Congress’s House Oversight Committee on Friday, September 30, that members of the Trump White House still had not turned over all presidential records—and signaled there could be legal consequences for those who do not comply, reports The New York Times.

In a letter, Debra Steidel Wall, the acting U.S. archivist, said the archives was working to retrieve electronic messages from certain unnamed White House officials who had used personal email and messaging accounts to conduct official business.

Wall wrote that the Archives would consult the Justice Department about whether to “initiate an action for the recovery of records unlawfully removed.”

“While there is no easy way to establish absolute accountability, we do know that we do not have custody of everything we should,” Wall wrote to Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, Democrat of New York and the chairwoman of the Oversight Committee.

Wall cited an August filing by the Justice Department to recover official email records from the personal account of Peter Navarro, a former Trump adviser. Navarro is facing charges of contempt of Congress after he refused to comply with a subpoena from the House committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

In her letter, Wall declined to say whether former President Donald Trump had surrendered all presidential records in his possession.

“With respect to the second issue concerning whether former President Trump has surrendered all presidential records, we respectfully refer you to the Department of Justice in light of its ongoing investigation,” she wrote.

“The National Archives has confirmed to the Oversight Committee that they still have not received all presidential records from the Trump White House,” Maloney said in a statement. “Presidential records are the property of the American people, and it is outrageous that these records remain unaccounted for 20 months after former President Trump left office.”

Maloney had requested a formal assessment from the Archives of what presidential records remained unaccounted for and whether the archives believed any were potentially still in Trump’s possession.

Maloney also requested that the Archives “seek a personal certification from Donald Trump that he has surrendered all presidential records that he illegally removed from the White House after leaving office.”

The federal government tried and failed for more than a year and a half to retrieve classified and sensitive documents from Trump before resorting on August 8 to a search of his Florida estate, Mar-a-Lago, according to government documents and statements by his lawyers.

Two months before the search, Trump’s lawyer certified that all documents bearing classified markings had been returned and that no “copy, written notation or reproduction of any kind was retained.”

Yet the FBI search revealed that the former president still had more than 11,000 government records—including more than 100 with classified markings and documents with the highest classification markings, some related to human intelligence sources. There were additional classified documents in Trump’s office desk drawer.

The search also turned up 48 folders with classified markings that were empty. Although it was unclear why they were empty, the committee said, the apparent separation of classified material and presidential records from their designated folders raised questions about how the materials were stored and whether sensitive material might have been lost or obtained by third parties.

Research contact: @nytimes

Trump adviser Peter Navarro lays out how he and Bannon planned to overturn Biden’s electoral win

January 29, 2021

A former Trump White House official says he and right-wing provocateur Steve Bannon were actually behind the last-ditch coordinated effort by rogue Republicans in Congress to halt certification of the 2020 election results on January 6 and keep President Donald Trump in power earlier this year, in a plan dubbed the “Green Bay Sweep.”

In his recently published memoir—In Trump Time, published by All Seasons Press—Peter Navarro, then-President Donald Trump’s trade adviser, details how he stayed in close contact with Bannon as they put the Green Bay Sweep in motion with help from members of Congress loyal to the cause, reports The Daily Beast.

But in an interview last week with The Daily Beast, Navarro shed additional light on his role in the operation—and his and Bannon’s coordination with GOP politicians Representative Paul Gosar (Arizona) and Senator Ted Cruz (Texas).

“We spent a lot of time lining up over 100 congressmen, including some senators. It started out perfectly. At 1 p.m., Gosar and Cruz did exactly what was expected of them,” Navarro told The Daily Beast. “It was a perfect plan. And it all predicated on peace and calm on Capitol Hill. We didn’t even need any protestors, because we had over 100 congressmen committed to it.”

That commitment appeared as Congress was certifying the 2020 Electoral College votes reflecting that Joe Biden had trunced Trump. Senator Cruz signed off on Gosar’s official objection to counting Arizona’s electoral ballots—an effort that was supported by dozens of other Trump loyalists.

Staffers for Cruz and Gosar did not respond to requests for comment. Also, there’s no public indication whether the January 6 Committee has sought testimony or documents from Senator Cruz or Representative Gosar.

But the committee has only recently begun to seek evidence from fellow members of Congress who were involved in the general effort to keep Trump in the White House—including GOP Representatives Jim Jordan (Ohio) and  Scott Perry (Pennsylvania).

This last-minute maneuvering never had any chance of actually decertifying the election results on its own, a point that Navarro quickly acknowledges. But their hope was to run the clock as long as possible to increase public pressure on then-Vice President Mike Pence to send the electoral votes back to six contested states, where Republican-led legislatures could try to overturn the results.

And in their minds, ramping up pressure on Pence would require media coverage. While most respected news organizations refused to regurgitate unproven conspiracy theories about widespread election fraud, this plan hoped to force journalists to cover the allegations by creating a historic delay to the certification process.

“The Green Bay Sweep was very well thought out. It was designed to get us 24 hours of televised hearings,” he said. “But we thought that we could bypass the corporate media by getting this stuff televised.”

Navarro’s part in this ploy was to provide the raw materials, he said in an interview on Thursday. That came in the form of a three-part White House report he put together during his final weeks in the Trump administration with volume titles like, “The Immaculate Deception” and “The Art of the Steal.”

“My role was to provide the receipts for the 100 congressmen or so who would make their cases .… who could rely in part on the body of evidence I’d collected,” he told The Daily Beast. “To lay the legal predicate for the actions to be taken.” (Ultimately, states have not found any evidence of electoral fraud above the norm, which is exceedingly small.)

The next phase of the plan was up to Bannon, Navarro says. “Steve Bannon’s role was to figure out how to use this information—what he called ‘receipts’—to overturn the election result. That’s how Steve had come up with the Green Bay Sweep idea,” he wrote.

“The political and legal beauty of the strategy was this: By law, both the House of Representatives and the Senate must spend up to two hours of debate per state on each requested challenge. For the six battleground states, that would add up to as much as 24 hours of nationally televised hearings across the two chambers of Congress.”

His book also notes that Bannon was the first person he communicated with when he woke up at dawn on January 6, writing, “I check my messages and am pleased to see Steve Bannon has us fully ready to implement our Green Bay Sweep on Capitol Hill. Call the play. Run the play.”

The rest is history.

Research contact: @thedailybeast