Updated Jan 25, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Ex-Trump adviser sentenced to 4 months in prison for contempt of Congress

Former Trump aide Peter Navarro speaking outside a federal court in Washington, D.C., in September 2023.

Former Trump adviser Peter Navarro speaking outside a federal court in Washington, D.C., in September 2023. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Former Trump adviser Peter Navarro was sentenced to four months in prison on Thursday for defying a 2022 congressional subpoena from the House committee that investigated the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Why it matters: Navarro is now the second Trump adviser to receive a prison sentence for refusing to testify before the panel and provide it documents related to attempts to overturn the 2020 election.

  • In addition to his prison sentence, Navarro was ordered to pay a $9,500 fine.

Catch up quickly: Navarro was accused by the Jan. 6 committee of working with fellow Trump adviser Steve Bannon and others to develop a plan to delay Congress' certification of the 2020 election.

  • Bannon was the first high-ranking Trump official to be sentenced for being in contempt of Congress, receiving four months in prison four months in prison and a $6,500 fine in 2022.
  • Navarro was found guilty on two counts for refusing to testify and provide documents in September.
  • Federal prosecutors last week recommended that he receive six months in prison and a $200,000 fine for the conviction, saying he deserves "severe" punishment for choosing "allegiance to former President Donald Trump over the rule of law."

Details: During the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta said Navarro should have known better, adding that his statements after the election contributed "to why our politics are so corrosive," Politico reported.

  • Navarro's attorney claimed his client had taken responsibility for his crime and should therefore receive no jail time.
  • This claim was challenged by Mehta, who said it would be hard to define Navarro's actions following his conviction as clear demonstrations of acceptance.
  • After he was convicted, Navarro would not directly say during an interview with MSNBC whether he would have done anything different after the 2020 election, adding that he would be "willing" to get his case before the Supreme Court.
  • Navarro claimed before entering court on Thursday that his case "is going to resolve important issues about the constitutional separation of powers, as well as the integrity of presidential decision making."

Of note: Navarro may not serve his prison term straight away, because he immediately appealed his sentence to the D.C. Court of Appeals, meaning it could be suspended pending its outcome.

  • Bannon's four-month prison sentence has been suspended for over a year after he submitted an appeal.

What they're saying: After the hearing, Navarro said he was not "expecting or hoping" for a pardon from former President Trump if he wins the 2024 election.

The big picture: Navarro helped spread misinformation on the 2020 election by making false claims of voter fraud, according to the Jan. 6 committee, which he claimed was a "partisan witch hunt."

  • In the aftermath of the election but before Congress' certification, Navarro published a 36-page report falsely claiming it was "statistically impossible" for Trump to have lost the election.
  • He erroneously asserted that Trump had only lost because of widespread voter fraud. Biden received over 7 million more votes than Trump and flipped five battleground states to win the Electoral College.

Go deeper: Trump's dominance in the GOP primaries is unprecedented

Editor's note: This story was updated with additional details from the hearing.

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