Ex-Trump advisor refuses to provide documents subpoenaed in House Covid-19 probe
Peter Navarro, a former White House trade advisor, has defied a subpoena for records linked to the Trump administration's response to the coronavirus.
Former White House trade advisor Peter Navarro has refused to comply with a Congressional subpoena regarding documents related to the Trump administration's response to the coronavirus.
In a letter, Navarro wrote to the subcommittee investigating the matter that the former President ordered him not to.
Navarro served as one of former President Donald Trump's pandemic advisors and was responsible for managing the response to the virus.
The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis issued the subpoena last month as part of its investigation of the federal response to the epidemic, asking Navarro to deliver records by December 8 and take a deposition on December 15.
"It is a direct order that I should not comply with the subpoena," Navarro wrote in a letter on December 7, defying the request for documents.
The subcommittee has given Navarro till December 15 to appear for a deposition and has urged that he turn over relevant records.
Navarro said in his letter to the subcommittee -- and addressed the letter to "Representative Rayburn" -- he would not cooperate because Trump told him to "protect executive privilege."
Rep. James Clyburn, a Democrat and head of the coronavirus crisis panel, was undoubtedly the intended recipient of Navarro's letter.
What about the subpoena?
Clyburn answered in a letter to Navarro that he had no valid reason to refuse to cooperate and that by writing about and disclosing conversations with Trump concerning the coronavirus response, he had waived any privilege.
The refusal is "particularly indefensible given that you disclosed many details about your work in the White House, including details of conversations with the former President about the pandemic response, in your recent book and related press tour," Clyburn said in a letter to Navarro on Saturday.
Warning Navarro, the lawmaker also wrote, "Please be advised that if you do not appear for the deposition as scheduled and produce all responsive documents in your possession by December 15, 2021, the Select Subcommittee will interpret your actions as willful noncompliance with the subpoena."
It is worth noting that a potential witness who fails to cooperate with a subpoena may be held in contempt of Congress, which can result in increased financial penalties and the risk of jail time.
Last month, one of Trump's former advisors, Steve Bannon, was charged with contempt of Congress for refusing to testify before a congressional committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol.
Navarro could not be immediately reached for a response to Clyburn's letter.
In a statement, Trump confirmed he asked Navarro not to cooperate.
"The Communist Democrats are engaging in yet another Witch Hunt, this time going after my Administration's unprecedented and incredible coronavirus response, even though, sadly, more Americans have died this year from Covid than in all of 2020," he said in a statement.
"It is a Witch Hunt... I'm telling Peter Navarro to protect executive privilege and not let these unhinged Democrats discredit our great accomplishments. The Witch Hunts must end!"