The Justice Department on Wednesday sued former Trump White House advisor Peter Navarro, demanding he return email communications he allegedly sent or received without copying his government account. The DOJ says these emails are presidential records and belong to the federal government. Legal experts are warning the government has an excellent case and others in similar circumstances should be “concerned.”
“Navarro, who worked for the White House during the entirety of Trump’s presidency, had used ‘at least one non-official email account … to send and receive messages constituting Presidential records,’ the Justice Department said in a court filing,” Politico reports. “Attorneys also accused him of ‘wrongfully retaining them’ in violation of federal record-keeping laws, as Navarro did not copy the messages into an official government account, nor did he respond to the National Archivist’s initial request for the emails.”
Top national security attorney Bradley Moss explained the case by saying, “Navarro walked out of the White House with hundreds of records in his possession and refuses to return them.”
The DOJ’s complaint against Navarro, a promoter of Trump’s “Big Lie,” suggests he tried to obtain immunity in exchange for returning the records but apparently DOJ refused.
“Prior to filing this suit, in an effort to avoid litigation, Department of Justice counsel contacted Mr. Navarro by email and United States mail to secure the Presidential records that Mr. Navarro had not copied to his government email account. Discussions with Mr. Navarro’s counsel to secure the return of Presidential records ultimately proved unsuccessful. Mr. Navarro has refused to return any Presidential records that he retained absent a grant of immunity for the act of returning such documents.”
Joyce Vance, a former U.S. Attorney writes, “DOJ, which has been busy this week, sued Peter Navarro for the return of comms on his private devices b/c they’re presidential records.”
“The analysis is persuasive,” says Vance, who is now a professor of law and MSNBC/NBC News legal analyst. “Other presidential advisors who used private comms should be concerned.”
The Associated Press notes that the “legal action comes just weeks after Navarro was indicted on criminal charges after refusing to cooperate with a congressional investigation into the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.”
Back in June while prosecuting Navarro’s criminal case, the DOJ said that the former Trump aide, arrested and charged with criminal contempt of Congress, is making “misrepresentations” and “false” claims, including that he was denied food and water and denied his right to call an attorney.
After he was arraigned and allowed to leave the courtroom in early June, Navarro had repeatedly made seemingly wild claims, including that he should not have been arrested at the airport, that he was put in “leg irons,” that he was “strip-searched,” that law enforcement officials refused to allow him to call an attorney – despite also repeatedly stating he would be representing himself, including before a judge.
He also complained he had been placed in solitary confinement, in a tweet promoting his book with a link to purchase it on Amazon.
Reprinted with permission from Alternet.
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