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Peter Navarro, a former top trade adviser to Donald Trump, has been convicted of contempt of Congress, after he failed to comply with a subpoena from a congressional committee probing the January 6 2021 attack on the US Capitol.
A federal jury in Washington delivered the verdict on Thursday afternoon after deliberating for several hours.
Navarro is the second former aide to the former US president to be prosecuted over a failure to co-operate with the congressional investigation into January 6. Steve Bannon, a former senior adviser to Trump, was convicted last year on two contempt of Congress charges, and sentenced to four months in jail. He has appealed against the decision.
The charges against Navarro stem from his failure to produce documents and sit for a deposition. He faces up to one year behind bars on each of the two counts against him, as well as a fine of up to $100,000 for each count.
Prosecutors said Navarro “chose allegiance” to Trump over complying with a subpoena from lawmakers, while Navarro’s attorneys said the state had not proven the trade adviser “wilfully” ignored the subpoena.
“Do we know that his failure to comply beyond reasonable doubt wasn’t the result of accident, inadvertence or mistake?” defence attorney Stanley Woodward said.
The January 6 committee in Congress finished its work and was disbanded earlier this year, after Democrats lost control of the House of Representatives in last year’s midterm elections.
A prominent China hawk, Navarro was a chief architect of Trump’s trade confrontations with Beijing, as well as Canada, Mexico and many European countries during his four years in the White House.
After Trump lost to Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election, Navarro remained a loyal public defender of the former president, even as Trump alleged the contest had been rigged against him and tried to overturn the results of the election.
Trump, the frontrunner in a crowded field of Republicans vying for the party’s nomination for president in 2024, is facing legal troubles of his own relating to January 6, when mobs of his supporters stormed the US Capitol and tried to stop the certification of Biden’s election.
Trump has been charged in a federal criminal case relating to January 6 and his wider efforts to overturn the election, as well as a state case in Fulton County, Georgia. He has also been indicted in two other criminal cases, relating to alleged “hush money” payments in Manhattan, and his handling of classified documents after leaving the White House.