Former Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro on Friday was 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 his bid to delay the proceedings so he could promote his new book.
Judge Amit Mehta said it was not "in the public's interest" to put off the trial until next year, as Navarro had requested, and set a Nov. 17 date for him in Washington federal court.
Navarro pleaded not guilty to two charges of contempt of Congress for snubbing subpoenas from the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol for testimony and documents.
Navarro's newly hired attorneys had asked for the trial to be pushed back because Navarro has a book coming out in September and he planned on being on the road through December to promote it. They said he was planning to engage in “an extensive marketing campaign” for the book beginning in August.
Prosecutor Amanda Vaughn told the judge that the request was "completely unwarranted" and that the Department of Justice had concerns about delaying a criminal trial for a book tour.
Navarro's lawyers told the judge they also needed time to analyze what they called the complex legal issues in the case.
But Mehta did not agree on the need for more time. "It’s not that complicated a case,” he said.
Navarro, 72, was indicted by a federal grand jury on the contempt charges this month following a criminal referral from the House of Representatives for his shunning of the committee's subpoenas.
Navarro has told reporters that he believed he did not need to respond because he considers the panel a "sham committee" and that he can't be forced to testify or turn over documents because he was working on behalf of then-President Donald Trump and is protected by executive privilege.
Peter Navarro indicted on contempt of Congress chargesJune 3, 202203:09
The committee has said that's not how executive privilege works, and that it needed information from Navarro because he played a key role “in the ex-president’s effort to overturn the 2020 election.”
Also Friday, Navarro moved to withdraw a civil suit he filed against the House committee shortly before his arrest, which argued the subpoenas against him should be dismissed in part because of his executive privilege arguments.
Mehta noted many of the issues Navarro raised in the civil case will be addressed in the criminal case. Both sides are due back in court in September.
The judge said he expected the trial would go “no longer than a week.”
“If that, your honor,” Vaughn replied.
Outside court, Navarro lawyer John Rowley said he and his co-counsel John Irving would "aggressively defend" their new client.
Contempt of Congress is punishable by up to a year in jail and a $100,000 fine.