The indictment of Peter Navarro, former trade advisor to Donald Trump, on contempt of Congress charges, puts a spotlight on one of the most prominent White House insiders involved in the effort to overturn the 2020 election.
The announcement about the indictment on Friday takes place following Navarro's disclosure that he was commanded to appear before a grand jury in Washington, DC earlier this week, as part of the Department of Justice’s investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol.
Navarro disclosed the subpoena in a civil suit in which he is seeking to block the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol from compelling him to testify in the congressional investigation. Navarro revealed that the subpoena commanded him to turn over all documents requested by the January 6th Committee, “including but not limited to any communications with formal [sic] President Trump and/or his counsel or representative,” to the grand jury.
Perhaps no other figure within the Trump administration, other than the president himself, was as actively involved in the effort to overturn the election as Navarro, who enjoyed unique access as director of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy in the White House.
Navarro’s extensive involvement in the effort to aid Trump in his quest to hold on to power began even before the election with repeated appearances on Fox News to attack his boss’ electoral opponent, Joe Biden, dating back to May 2020. Following the election, Navarro produced a three-part report purporting to show evidence of election fraud. As previously reported by Raw Story, Navarro also recruited cybersecurity experts to investigate election irregularities. And, as detailed in his book, Trump Time, as Jan. 6 neared Navarro circulated a plan dubbed the “Green Bay Sweep” calling on Congress to remand electoral votes back to six battleground states and delay certification of the election.
Navarro hinted at the stakes in his lawsuit against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, which was filed in federal court in Washington, DC on Wednesday, vowing retaliation.
If the January 6th Committee is able to strip Trump and his former senior White House advisers of privileged immunity, “just imagine what will happen to Joe Biden and his advisers if Republicans win both the White House and House in 2024,” Navarro warned. “In fact, I don’t need to imagine this repeat of the strategic game. If I’m not dead or in prison, I will ‘tit for tat’ lead the charge.”
Navarro is promoting a new book scheduled for publication in September called Taking Back Trump’s America, which is framed as a roadmap for Trump’s return to the White House. A page on Navarro’s website promoting the book boasts that “he was in all the rooms where it happened,” while blaming Trump’s “fall” on “incompetent and disloyal” appointees. The book features a blurb from former White House strategist Steve Bannon, who describes it as “a brass-knuckled insider’s account of the merciless 2020 fall and miraculous 2024 rise of the White House of Trump.”
Following the Nov. 3, 2020 election, Navarro undertook an investigation with the assistance of aide Garrett Ziegler that would lead to the three-part Navarro Report claiming that there was evidence of extensive election fraud. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), chairman of the January 6th Committee, has said that claims of fraud in the Navarro Report “have been discredited in public reporting, by state officials, and courts.”
President Trump cited the Navarro Report as evidence of fraud and included a link to the report in his infamous Dec. 19, 2020 tweet summoning his supporters to Washington, DC for a “wild rally” on Jan. 6, 2021.
In his lawsuit defying the January 6th Committee, Navarro argues that his responsibilities in the Trump White House should be considered broader than his formal role as trade adviser.
“Given the economic and national security ramifications of a possibly stolen election, I worked diligently in my official capacity as a government official within the White House and as a senior White House adviser to help the president and other senior advisers navigate what appeared to be the most sophisticated assault on American democracy ever perpetrated,” he wrote.
Navarro has made frequent appearances on Bannon’s “War Room” podcast, and also, according to one person interviewed by Raw Story, turned to Bannon for help recruiting people with technical expertise, although Navarro has denied the claim.
Dennis Nathan Cain, a cybersecurity expert who volunteered his time in Washington, DC in November and December 2020, and filed an expert report for a civil suit in Arizona state court, told Raw Story that “Steve Bannon was involved in the request that I come down to DC.” He added, “Peter Navarro had reached out to Steve Bannon about finding some guys that had some experience. Myself, my experience is in regulatory compliance at systems levels.”
Cain said he worked on a three-person team that included Harry Haury, who had previously appeared on Bannon’s “War Room” to discuss Trump’s crackdown on the social media app TikTok in August 2020. During his guest appearance, Haury was introduced by Bannon’s co-host Raheem Kassam as CEO of NuCloud Holdings.
Asked about Cain’s account, Navarro wrote in an email to Raw Story: “False.”
While assembling his reports claiming election fraud, Navarro had access to an array of materials generated by a vast network of experts, analysts, so-called “whistleblowers” and conspiracy theorists working under dueling legal teams, one led by the president’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and the other by the triune of attorney Sidney Powell, retired Lt. General Michael Flynn and former Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne.
As previously reported by Raw Story, Ziegler, Navarro’s aide, made frequent trips across the Potomac River to the Westin Arlington Gateway, where Giuliani associate Michael Trimarco has rented a bloc of rooms, to collect information.
“I mean, this guy — talk about people really working 24-7,” Trimarco said in an interview earlier this year with far-right podcaster Ann Vandersteel. “He would come around at 11, midnight, 1, after he’s done at the White House, to get information. I saw him come by one or two times. But he was working with a few key people on our team to get the information.”
“The Navarro Report, which I helped write, documented the Low Rent fraud in great detail, with hundreds of footnotes and affidavits,” Ziegler wrote in message on the social media app Telegram in April 2021. “(I still think I’m the only person in the USA with all the unredacted affidavits ha).”
Initially, Trimarco’s designated role was to relay information from Powell’s team to Giuliani. But due to the fact Trimarco was frequently shuttling back and forth to Long Island on Byrne’s private plane to be with his wife while she was pregnant, the information often bypassed Trimarco, and Giuliani learned about it from Trump.
“Ironically, a lot of the stuff that got back to Rudy didn’t end up coming through me,” Trimarco told Vandersteel. “Because once that connection was made, Garrett would give it to Peter, and Peter would give it to the president. And then it would circle back to Rudy.”
Another Navarro aide, Joanna Miller, secretly authored a report baselessly accusing Dominion Voting Systems of corrupting the election on behalf of Joe Biden, according to a report by the Guardian.
In December 2020, the US Office of Special Counsel found that Navarro violated the Hatch Act “by using his official authority or influence to interfere with or affect the result of the 2020 presidential election through both media appearances and social media.” The violations occurred in the period before the Nov. 3, 2020 election, preceding both the Navarro Report and formulation of the “Green Bay Sweep.”
The Office of Special Counsel cited at least six media interviews between May 26 and Oct. 19, 2020 in which Navarro appeared on Fox News in his official capacity and attacked Biden as being “compromised” or susceptible to being “bought” by China, and ridiculed him with the nickname “Beijing Biden.”
Navarro dismissed the findings as “old news” in an email to Raw Story.
While refusing to testify before the January 6th Committee, Navarro described the Green Bay Sweep in his book Trump Time as a plan “which sought to leverage Vice President Mike Pence’s constitutional power” with the goal of “delay[ing] certification of the election for at least another several weeks ‘while Congress and the various state legislatures involved investigate[d] all of the fraud and election irregularities” that would be raised that [on Jan. 6, 2021] on Capitol Hill.”
In his lawsuit filed on Wednesday, Navarro argued that the violence that ensued on Jan. 6 was counterproductive to the successful implementation of his plan, and he said the mayhem was not what he, Trump or Bannon wanted.
“Because implementation of the Green Bay Sweep strategy required ‘only peace and calm on Capitol Hill,’ the last thing President Trump and I wanted was ‘to hand Congress an excuse to abort the operation’ with an outbreak of violence and chaos and the last people ‘who wanted to see violence erupt that January 6 day on Capitol Hill’ included both myself and President Trump (along with Stephen K. Bannon),” Navarro said.
Navarro’s lawsuit does not address the fact that numerous Trump allies, including his son Donald Jr. and Fox News personalities Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Brian Kilmeade, pleaded with the president to condemn the violence on Jan. 6, and that the president was the only person with the influence to persuade his supporters to stand down that day.
Navarro also did not address Bannon’s warning on “War Room” the day before the attack that “all hell is going to break loose tomorrow.”
Bannon’s comments on Jan. 5, as reported in the Washington Post, not only predicted the violence but appear to have summoned Trump’s supporters to DC.
“So many people said, ‘Man, if I was in revolution, I would be in Washington,’” Bannon reportedly said. “Well, this is your time in history.” In another comment, Bannon reportedly said: “It’s all converging, and now we’re on the point of attack tomorrow…. All I can say is: Strap in. You have made this happen, and tomorrow it’s game day.”
Navarro declined to comment on Bannon’s remarks.
Bannon has been indicted for contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with his subpoena from the January 6 Committee.
Citing Bannon’s “all hell is going to break loose” prediction, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) told fellow committee members last October: “Based on the committee’s investigation, it appears that Mr. Bannon had substantial advanced knowledge of the plans for January 6th, and likely had an important role in formulating those plans.”