Former Trump administration trade adviser Peter Navarro on Friday pleaded not guilty to the two counts of criminal contempt of congress on which he was indicted earlier this month.
Mr Navarro, who served as the head of the National Trade Council under Donald Trump, faces up to two years behind bars should a jury convict him on charges that he refused to honour subpoenas commanding him to produce documents and appear to give evidence before the House of Representatives select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol.
The ex-college professor had filed a lawsuit against the select committee in hopes of preventing the charges against him, which a District of Columbia grand jury approved on 2 June.
During his initial appearance before a magistrate judge, Mr Navarro had indicated that he intended to defend himself pro se by acting as his own attorney. By late Thursday, court documents indicated that he had retained two attorneys, John Riley and John Irving IV.
After Mr Navarro entered his plea of not guilty, the discussion turned to when he will face trial before US District Judge Amit Mehta.
Judge Mehta informed Mr Navarro’s attorneys and prosecutors from the Department of Justice that his calendar was “a mess” and offered three dates starting in August, September, or November for what is expected to be a week-long trial.
Mr Navarro’s attorneys suggested that his trial be delayed until as late as April 2023 because of his upcoming book tour. Judge Mehta scheduled a 17 November trial date after agreeing with prosecutors that delaying Mr Navarro’s trial for a book tour was “not in the public interest”.
The ex-Trump adviser’s attorneys also said he had filed a motion to dismiss his lawsuit against the select committee without prejudice, meaning it could be re-filed if necessary. The lawyers explained that they had only just been retained and did not have time to prepare documents that would have been due soon. For his part, Judge Mehta told Mr Navarro that the issues he wanted litigated in the lawsuit, including whether the select committee’s subpoena was issued with a valid legislative purpose, could be dealt with as part of the criminal case against him.
Mr Navarro will next appear in court in 15 July for a status conference before Judge Mehta.