Already facing a contempt charge for his refusal to cooperate with the Jan. 6 committee, former Trump White House trade adviser Peter Navarro is now caught in another legal thicket after the Department of Justice sued him Wednesday, alleging he violated record preservation laws by using a personal email during his stint at the White House.
The 13-page civil lawsuit accuses Navarro of using “at least one non-official email” to conduct White House business and then routinely failing to transfer copies of the records to his professional account, as required under the Presidential Records Act.
When attorneys at the Department of Justice asked Navarro to start producing the documents, Navarro refused to do so without a “grant of immunity” for returning them.
This latest Justice Department lawsuit is altogether separate from his indictment on two counts of Contempt of Congress filed this June. And this case is also separate from a demand Navarro received in May to appear before a grand jury.
RELATED STORY: Ex-Trump adviser receives grand jury subpoena tied to Jan. 6
US v Navarro Complaint by Daily Kos on Scribd
Navarro’s allegedly botched record-keeping only came to light because of an ongoing congressional investigation led by the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis. That committee is reviewing the federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Navarro’s personal emails were churned up incidentally after copies of messages from other individuals were produced.
Navarro was tapped by former President Donald Trump to serve as the lead policy coordinator for the Defense Production Act during the height of the pandemic in March 2020. He was slapped with a subpoena from the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis in September 2021 and then again in November 2021 after the panel obtained records indicating Navarro and other members of the Trump administration actively contributed to critical supply shortages by applying “haphazard” procurement methods during the pandemic.
The National Archives notified Navarro in December that they had become aware he had not forwarded emails from his ProtonMail account to his official White House account and offered to assist him. Navarro never responded.
The Justice Department followed up with him this June, noting how the National Archives had made multiple requests for his cooperation to no avail. This ultimately prompted Navarro to retain counsel, who then informed the Archives that Navarro would conduct his own review of his records and determine which, if any, needed to be returned under law.
When Navarro finally responded to the department in July, his counsel said of some 1,700 documents, roughly 200 to 250 were Presidential Record Act records.
Navarro’s attorney John Rowley did not immediately return a request for comment to Daily Kos on Thursday.
The former Trump White House official is expected to go on trial for the contempt of Congress charges this November.
While Republicans try to overturn elections and make it harder to vote, volunteer to help save democracy by encouraging people to cast their ballots. Click here to view hundreds of local and national Get Out the Vote opportunities on the Daily Kos Mobilize feed, and sign up to volunteer on a national campaign or one near you.
RELATED STORY: Navarro indicted on two counts of contempt of Congress