WASHINGTON — The Justice Department is indicting former Trump White House aide Peter Navarro for forcing him to generate emails from a personal account allegedly used for official White House business.
In a complaint filed Wednesday, the department has asked a judge to order Navarro to turn over the records.
Navarro, the Trump administration’s top trade adviser, refused to turn over the documents without being granted “immunity to return such records,” the indictment said.
In December, the National Archives and Records Administration learned that Navarro had used a personal account on encrypted email service ProtonMail to send and receive official emails while he was an adviser to the president, the complaint said. It said Navarro violated the Presidential Records Act by not copying his official White House account in the email exchange or forwarding the email chain to his White House account.
The complaint alleges that Navarro was contacted by the National Archives and asked to hand over the missing records, but he never responded.
In response to the department’s lawsuit, Navarro’s attorneys, John Irwin and John Rowley, said in a statement Wednesday that their clients “never refused to provide records to the government.”
“As detailed in our recent letter to the Archives, Mr Navarro instructed his lawyers to keep all such records, and he expects the government to follow in good faith standard procedures to allow him to do so. Instead, the government chose to Filed today,” they wrote.
Separately, Navarro has been ordered to stand trial in November on criminal contempt of Congress charges for refusing to cooperate with the Jan. 6 committee after a judge denied him part of the reason for delaying the proceedings. It’s to promote a new book. He pleaded not guilty to the charges.
In a letter filed with the Justice Department, Irving expressed “concerns about the coordination between various government investigations and the protection of Mr. Navarro’s constitutional rights.”
“In short, we are concerned about the administration’s use of the Presidential Records Act as a discovery tool, not only in relation to Mr. Navarro’s ongoing criminal case, but also in the broader investigations that Congress and the executive branch are conducting,” Irving said in July. wrote in the letter on the 29th.
“While we recognize Mr. Navarro’s obligations under the Presidential Records Act, we must also recognize the conflict between the Act and his rights under the Constitution, including the Fifth Amendment,” he added.