Former Trump Trade Aide Navarro Gets Subpoena Warning From Panel
(Bloomberg) -- Former White House trade adviser Peter Navarro was warned he’ll be considered in “willful noncompliance” with a Congressional subpoena if he fails to testify Wednesday to a House panel investigating the Trump administration’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Representative James Clyburn, the committee’s chairman, didn’t specify possible consequences in a letter to Navarro on Saturday. Navarro told the panel in a letter dated Dec. 7 that he won’t testify due to “a direct order from former President Donald Trump.”
Clyburn’s warning signals a second front in the House’s subpoena battles with Trump allies who are refusing to cooperate with committee inquiries, which are already under way with a panel investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.
Navarro, who was director of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy and assistant to the president, was instructed in a Nov. 18 subpoena from the Covid panel to appear for closed-door testimony Wednesday and produce documents prior to that related to the committee’s investigation.
“Your blanket refusal to comply with the subpoena in its entirety is improper,” said Clyburn of South Carolina, the No. 3 House Democrat. If Navarro doesn’t appear as scheduled and produce the documents by Dec. 15, the committee will view him in “willful noncompliance with the subpoena,” he said.
Navarro said in the letter to Clyburn that he was referring to Trump’s statement on Nov. 20 in which the former president said, “I’m telling Peter Navarro to protect executive privilege and not let these unhinged Democrats discredit our great accomplishments.”
Navarro didn’t respond to a request for comment left on his answering machine. There also was no immediate response from the committee’s top Republican, Steve Scalise of Louisiana.
Clyburn and the six other Democrats on the coronavirus panel are exploring what they say is evidence the Trump administration prioritized political interests that undermined and interfered with the nation’s pandemic response, including in the awarding of medical equipment contracts. There are five Republicans on the panel.
Democrats have said there are questions about whether Trump officials, including Navarro, exercised inappropriate influence over contracts for personal protective equipment and medical supplies, leading to the awarding of lucrative contracts without adequate diligence or competition.
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