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Legal Experts Warn Of ‘Two-Tier Justice System’ After Navarro Arrest

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


A number of legal experts have weighed in and suggested that the indictment of Peter Navarro raises significant constitutional concerns and may show that there is a two-tiered justice system.

He was indicted last week on charges of contempt after he defied a subpoena from the House Committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 incident at the U.S. Capitol.

He was asked to provide a deposition and documents to the committee but he refused to and now he faces two counts of contempt with each carry a possible jail sentence of 30 days to 1 year behind bars, Newsmax reported.

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He is the second Trump adviser to be charged with contempt of Congress for refusing to cooperate with the Jan. 6 committee. Navarro has claimed executive privilege, which the House panel has rejected, claiming its questions don’t violate any areas of privilege.

Navarro was serving as an official adviser to the president at the time of the Jan. 6 breach. That’s in direct contrast with Steve Bannon, who, like Navarro, has been charged, but was an outside adviser to Trump and not an official member of his administration at the time of the breach.

The House has also voted to hold former Trump aide Dan Scavino and former chief of staff Mark Meadows in contempt, but the DOJ has not prosecuted either of them to date.

John Tolley, a New York-based attorney and former prosecutor, called the indictment against Navarro “interesting because it does bring up some major constitutional issues.”

“He should have been held in contempt as opposed to criminally prosecuted,” he said.

When Republicans controlled the House they held Obama administration Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt for failing to provide documents but a federal judge did not put him behind bars.

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Obama-era IRS official Lois Lerner was also referred to the Department of Justice on contempt charges but she was also not prosecuted.

“If it is a Bush DOJ, you want them to be acting the same way as a Biden DOJ would act so the principles of law are consistently applied,” attorney Michael Abramson who hosts the “Advancing the Agenda” podcast said. “You want consistency. The law exists to protect people. Policies and procedures have to be followed for people to be treated fairly. When these policies and procedures are not followed you come into a situation where the rights of individuals may be attacked.”

Case Western Reserve University law and political science professor Juscelino Colares said it “definitely seems like we have come to a point where we have a two-tier justice system” of “selected enforcement” when contempt charges are enforced when Democrats are in charge of the House but not when Republicans are.

“We can’t be a nation of laws and at the same time a nation where the laws are only enforced against one group of people,” he said. “That’s not conducive to building the public trust in our institutions.”

Navarro was furious after being arrested and indicted by the Department of Justice and expressed the same concerns.

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“I told them [to] contact an individual that would discuss this matter. What did they do? They didn’t call me. I spoke to the FBI agent that arrested me. I spoke to him Wednesday night. I said, “Walter, whatever you need. You don’t have to come banging on my door like you did last week getting me out of bed. I’m here to cooperate.” What did they do? I was on my way to Nashville today to do a TV appearance with Mike Huckabee‘s show, all right?” he said.

“And instead of coming to my door where I live, which by the way is right next to the FBI, instead of calling me and say, ‘Hey, we need you down in court, we’ve got a warrant for you,’ I would have gladly come. What did they do? They intercepted me getting on the plane. Then they put me in handcuffs, they bring me here, they put me in leg irons stick me in a cell,” he argued.

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“They responded with effectively the same kind of thing you’d see in Stalin‘s Russia or the Chinese Communist Party,” the former aide said. “I note interestingly for the record, the only two people that have been indicted on criminal charges are me and Steve Bannon.”

“There was no reason on God’s good Earth for what they did today to an American citizen. That did not have to happen. It’s terrorism, it’s coercion. There’s no excuse for what they did today. America needs to know this,” he said.

“Their mission, their clear mission, is to prevent Donald John Trump from running for president in 2024 and being elected president,” he said. “People like me are in their way and they’re not coming for me, they’re coming for you. All 74 million of you who voted for Donald John Trump.”

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