A federal judge on Tuesday rejected a bid for a new trial for Peter Navarro, a Trump White House official convicted of contempt of Congress for refusing to cooperate with a congressional investigation into the U.S. Capitol attack.
Navarro, who served as a White House trade adviser under President Donald Trump, was found guilty by a jury in Washington's federal court for defying a subpoena for documents and a deposition from the House Jan. 6 committee. He's scheduled to be sentenced later this month.
Navarro's lawyers argued he was entitled to a new trial, alleging that jurors may have been improperly influenced by political protesters when they took a break outside the courthouse before announcing a verdict in September.
But U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta said in his ruling that Navarro has not shown that “any prejudice resulted from the jury's eight-minute break outside the courthouse.” Jurors only interacted with one another and the court officer who accompanied them, no one approached the jurors and “there were no activities resembling a ‘protest,'" the judge wrote.
“Defendant not only fails to demonstrate prejudice, he has not shown that any juror was actually exposed to any improper external influence,” Mehta wrote.
An attorney for Navarro declined to comment on Tuesday's ruling.
Navarro was the second Trump aide to face contempt of Congress charges after former White House adviser Steve Bannon. Bannon was convicted of two counts and was sentenced to four months behind bars, though he has been free pending appeal.
Navarro has vowed to appeal the verdict, saying the “die was cast” after a judge ruled that he couldn’t fight the charges by arguing he couldn’t cooperate with the committee because Trump, a Republican, had invoked executive privilege. Barred from relying on the executive privilege argument at trial, the defense argued that Navarro had not acted “willfully" in his failure to comply.
Navarro’s sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 25 in Washington's federal court. He was convicted of two misdemeanor counts of contempt of Congress, both punishable by up to a year behind bars.
Richer reported from Boston.