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Peter Navarro Arrested at Airport Says Denied Phone Call Now US Nixes Evidence Request

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon Maxwell Book
BBC-Guardian UK - Honduras - ESPN NY Mag

DDC COURT, June 13 –  Former Trump administration official Peter Navarro was arrested on June 3 as he sought to board an airplane to Nashville for a television appearance. Inner City Press live tweeted his presentment in the District Court for the District of Columbia before Magistrate Judge Zia M. Faruqui, thread here and below.

On June 9, DDC Judge Ahmit P. Mehta chided Navarro, telling him to file through the clerk: "MINUTE ORDER as to PETER K. NAVARRO. In the last two days, Defendant has twice communicated with the court by emailing the courtroom deputy, without copying government counsel. This is not proper. Defendant is not permitted to have ex parte communications with the court -- that is, communications outside the presence of government counsel -- absent the court's consent. If Defendant wishes to communicate with the court, he shall do so through a written filing submitted through the clerk's office. Alternatively, he can seek permission to obtain filing privileges for the court's online filing system. Securing such privileges will require Defendant to follow Local Criminal Rule 49(b)(2). The District Court's Local Rules are available on its website. The court assumes that Defendant was unaware of the prohibition on ex parte communications and trusts that they will cease going forward. Signed by Judge Amit P. Mehta on 6/9/2022."

On June 10, not through the clerk but also not ex parte, Navarro made a motion: "MINUTE ORDER as to PETER K. NAVARRO. The court is in receipt of a document titled "Motion for Documents Pertaining to Arrest." The document was emailed to government counsel and copied to the courtroom deputy. The court cannot discern whether Defendant intends this to be an actual motion or a Rule 16(a)(1) discovery demand directed to the government. Out of an abundance of caution, the court treats the filing as a motion and will docket it accordingly. Signed by Judge Amit P. Mehta on 6/10/2022."

On June 13, the US Attorney's Office both denied having (some) responsive documents and said they are not subject to discovery: "
The Defendant, Peter K. Navarro, has moved for the production of various records relating to his arrest. Specifically, the Defendant seeks video and audio recordings from his arrest, transcripts of all conversations that took place, notes used to create the FBI report memorializing the arrest, and signed affidavits from FBI Special Agents describing the arrest. To the Government’s knowledge, aside from agent notes relating to the FBI report memorializing the Defendant’s arrest, the materials the Defendant seeks do not exist or, to the extent they may exist, are not in the possession, custody, or control of the prosecution team—for example, any video recordings Reagan National Airport might make of its jetways. In any event, none of the material the Defendant seeks is discoverable under Federal Rule of Evidence 16 or Brady v. Maryland and its progeny."

From June 3: Judge Faruqui: There is a two count indictment that was returned yesterday evening: contempt of Congress. Potential penalties include term of imprisonment under to one year. 

Assistant US Attorney: The maximum fine is $100,000. 

Judge Faruqui. I thought it was $1000... Mr. Navarro, are you willing to have me appoint counsel for you? 

Navarro: Just for today, for this. I was prevented from making a phone call. Judge.

Faruqui: I take those allegations serious. The government has duties to treat everyone fairly. If as you allege the government has engaged in prosecutorial misconduct, you can file a motion. But we can't adjudicate it today.  

Navarro: I communicated directly with the prosecutor - they let me get to the airport and arrested me. I want you as the Magistrate to see what kind of hardball they are playing. 

Judge Faruqui: I'm sure [District] Judge Mehta will take this seriously. 

Public Defender Ubong E. Akpan: Appoint me only for today, we'll file a financial affidavit later. 

Navarro: I don't understand how this is going to go forward. I want to make the case that the arraignment should be postponed for a number of reasons.

Judge Faruqui: I'm not going to arraign you today. You'll see Judge Mehta on June 17 at noon.

Navarro: On Tuesday I filed a civil suit in this building regarding these charges possibly pending against me. It argues that the subpoena from the Congressional Committee is ultra vires and unenforceable. The prosecution has put me in an untenable position

Navarro: There is a separately of powers based on case law. This needs to get to the Supreme Court. DOJ appears to have colluded with the White House and Congress - they've colluded with Joe Biden to strip the immunity of his predecessor. I have testimonial immunity.

Navarro: This was a preemptive strike by the prosecution against my lawsuit. Please discuss this with Judge Mehta. I want it adjourned until my civil suit goes forward. I have to come up with a legal strategy. I don't want to spend my retirement savings on lawyers

Navarro: I served four years in the Trump White House. I saved people lives and jobs. What's coming at me from DOJ, which doesn't read its own OLC memos, is an attempt to eliminate testimonial immunity. There are bigger things at play than whether I go to prison.

Navarro: They moved preemptively on me. I told them who to call. I got up this morning at my apartment. I had to go to Nashville for a TV appearance. The agent who arrested me had come to my apartment last week. I said, you can call, don't kick down my door.

Navarro: I live like 100 yards from the FBI. But they let me go to the airport then slapped handcuffs on me. I was a distinguished public servant for four years. No one ever questioned my ethics. That Committee is a scam committee that should not subpoena

Navarro: Maybe we can move the civil suit up on a more expedited timeline. This is not how America is supposed to function. The behavior of these people is unconscionable. No American should be treated this way. Judge Faruqui: I will relay this to Judge Mehta. Judge Faruqui: I think at the next proceeding

Judge Mehta will be inclined to arraign me. But you can ask. You can sit down. The government is reminded of its discovery responsibilities [now Rule 5f script]

Judge Faruqui: Let me hear from Pre-Trial Services.

Pre-Trial's Christine Schuck: He should call Pre-Trial on Monday, and verify his address - also turn into us his passport. No narcotics unless prescribed, no firearm, destructive device or other weapon

Public Defender Ubong E. Akpan: We think these conditions are excessive. He should only have to report by phone.

Navarro: I concur with that. I am no threat to anyone, and not a flight risk. This is just wrong. The arrested me at the jet gate door.

PD Akpan: Mr. Navarro has every intent of fighting this case.

Navarro: Using drugs? That's not me. Is this is like a blanket recipe, one size fits all, I don't think so.

Judge Faruqui: We try to bespoke them.

Pre-Trial: These are standard conditions.

AUSA: The defendant is alleged not to have appeared on a certain date and not to have followed instructions. So we think these conditions are needed. The firearms restrictions are for Pre-Trial Services officers' safety.

Judge Faruqui: No guns, I agree with that. Narcotics use? Nothing indicates you've used them. The condition just says, Don't do it. I think it's fine to have it on there. It poses no burden on you. The travel? I think you don't need to turn in your passport. Prior notification is OK with me.

Navarro: I am let us say disappointed in our Republic.

Judge Faruqui: You have every right to be, Mr. Navarro. 

Akpan: We request an exclusion of time under the Speedy Trial Act, as Mr. Navarro wants his civil case addressed first.

AUSA: We oppose exclusion [!]

Navarro: The intention of the prosecution is disingenuous. They don't want my civil suit to move forward. I asked them to contact a lawyer several days ago. I'm going to have to find a lawyer - so the clock should be stopped.

Judge Faruqui: A civil suit is not enough of a basis on its own to exclude Speed Trial Act time. But appointment of counsel gives me some concern, under the Sixth Amendment.

AUSA: The arraignment date is two weeks from today. He has already referenced an attorney

Judge Faruqui: I am excluding Speedy Trial Act time. In 14 days you will meet Judge Mehta. Use the time well. We are adjourned.

The case is US v. Navarro, 22-cr-200 (Mehta); Inner City Press will continue to cover the case(s). 


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