A former UC Irvine professor who worked as an adviser to President Donald Trump was indicted by a federal grand jury on two counts of contempt of Congress stemming from his failure to comply with a subpoena issued by the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol, the Department of Justice announced Friday.
Peter K. Navarro, 72, was charged with a misdemeanor count involving his refusal to appear for a deposition and another involving his refusal to produce documents, despite a subpoena from the investigative panel, according to the DOJ.
The indictment was returned Thursday and unsealed Friday. Navarro made his initial appearance Friday afternoon in federal court in the District of Columbia.
Speaking to reporters outside court, Navarro blasted federal authorities for arresting him and placing him in a jail cell instead of merely summoning him to court.
“Instead of coming to my door where I live — which, by the way, is right next to the FBI — instead of calling me and saying, `Hey, we need you down in court, we’ve got a warrant for you,’ what did they do? They intercepted me getting on the plane,” he said. “And they put me in handcuffs, bring me here. They put me in leg irons. They stick me in a cell.
“… That’s punitive. What they did to me today violated the Constitution.”
He also said he will act as his own attorney in the case, saying he doesn’t want to be “spending hundreds of thousands of dollars of my retirement savings on this kind of venture. I’m going to evaluate my legal strategy in light of what has happened with this, and there will be more to follow.”
Navarro was an economics professor at UC Irvine, where he retired in 2016 while being tapped as a trade adviser to the then-presidential candidate. He also reportedly lectured at UC San Diego and the University of San Diego between 1985 and 1988.
According to the indictment, on Feb. 9, the Select Committee issued a subpoena to Navarro which required him to appear and produce documents to the panel on Feb. 23, and to appear for a deposition on March 2.
Navarro allegedly refused to appear to give testimony as required by subpoena and refused to produce documents in compliance with a subpoena, federal prosecutors said.
In its subpoena, the committee said it had reason to believe that Navarro had information relevant to its investigation. Navarro, who advised Trump on various trade and manufacturing policies, has been a private citizen since departing the White House on Jan. 20, 2021.
Each count of contempt of Congress carries a minimum of 30 days and a maximum of one year in jail, as well as a fine of up to $100,000, prosecutors noted.