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Ex-Trump adviser Peter Navarro subpoenaed in Capitol riot probe

Peter Navarro (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)
Peter Navarro (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

A former adviser to Donald Trump has revealed he has been subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury this week as part of the Justice Department’s investigation into the deadly insurrection at the US Capitol.

Peter Navarro, who was a trade adviser to then-president Mr Trump, said on Tuesday that he was served by the FBI at his Washington house last week.

The subpoena is the first known instance of prosecutors seeking evidence from someone who worked in the Trump White House as they investigate the worst attack on the Capitol in two centuries.

In an 88-page draft filing, Mr Navarro said the House select committee investigating the attack on January 6 2021 is unlawful and therefore a subpoena it issued to him in February is unenforceable under law.

The 72-year-old said he filed a suit against committee members, House speaker Nancy Pelosi and the US attorney for Washington DC, Matthew M Graves, on Tuesday.

Donald Trump
Donald Trump (Michael Wyke/AP)

In an interview with the Associated Press, Mr Navarro said the goal of his lawsuit is much broader than the subpoenas themselves, but part of an effort to have “the Supreme Court address a number of issues that have come with the weaponisation of Congress’s investigatory powers” since Mr Trump came to office.

Though the scope of the DoJ investigation remains unclear, the subpoena to Mr Navarro could signal that the department is widening its probe to examine the activities and records of people who worked directly for the Republican president.

The department previously issued subpoenas to people connected to the attack and the rallies in Washington that preceded the violence, in which a mob loyal to Mr Trump stormed the Capitol in a bid to overturn the 2020 presidential election and keep Democrat Joe Biden from replacing Mr Trump in the White House.

The subpoena also comes as pressure mounts on the Justice Department and attorney general Merrick Garland to consider prosecuting Mr Trump since the January 6 House committee laid out an argument for what its members believe could be a viable criminal case.

Mr Garland has given no public indication about whether prosecutors might be considering a case against the former president, but he has vowed to hold accountable “all January 6 perpetrators, at any level” and said that would include those who were “present that day or were otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy”.

About 300 people have pleaded guilty to crimes stemming from the riot, including seditious conspiracy and assault.

The subpoena from federal prosecutors also comes months after Mr Navarro, a former economics professor, received a congressional subpoena from legislators investigating the January 6 attack.

Members of the select committee sought evidence from Mr Navarro about his public efforts to help Mr Trump overturn the election, including a call after the 2020 presidential election persuading state legislators to join their efforts.

Mr Navarro was one of the White House employees who promoted Mr Trump’s baseless claims of mass voter fraud. He released a report in December 2020 that he claimed contained evidence of the alleged misconduct.

He has refused to co-operate with the committee, and he and fellow Trump adviser Dan Scavino were found in contempt of Congress in April.

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