House panel rejects claims of executive privilege from Navarro

Democrats on the House subcommittee investigating political interference into the pandemic response have rejected former Trump administration aide Peter Navarro’s claims of executive privilege, and are demanding he comply with a subpoena to appear for a deposition.

In a letter sent Saturday, Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), chairman of the House select subcommittee on the coronavirus pandemic, told Navarro he had “no valid basis for refusing to comply with the subpoena.”

“Your refusal to comply is particularly indefensible given that you disclosed many details about your work in the White House, including details of conversations with the former President about the pandemic response, in your recent book and related press tour,” Clyburn wrote. 

Since Navarro disclosed previously private information publicly, “the Select Subcommittee believes that any privilege that may have attached to these subjects has been waived,” Clyburn wrote. 

“The Select Subcommittee therefore expects you to promptly produce all responsive records and information in your possession and appear for a deposition on December 15, as the subpoena requires,” he continued.

Clyburn issued the subpoena last month after he said Navarro, former President Trump’s deputy assistant and trade adviser, refused to voluntarily comply with repeated requests for documents. 

Clyburn is alleging Navarro prioritized politics and promoting the lie that the 2020 election was stolen over the COVID-19 response, and said he suspects Navarro may be withholding “extensive communication” between himself and other White House officials that were sent through a private, encrypted email service.

Navarro said he was unable to respond to the subpoena, because former President Trump said in a statement that he was invoking executive privilege. Navarro claimed Trump‘s statement was  “a direct order” he was obligated to follow, and further said that he “objects” to the document requests.

The Hill has reached out to Navarro for any additional comments. 

But Clyburn said the statement from Trump “does not provide a valid basis to refuse to comply with the Select Subcommittee’s subpoena. As the former president, Mr. Trump does not have ultimate authority to assert executive privilege over the records and information you possess,” Clyburn wrote.

“It is abundantly clear that you possess information responsive to the subpoena that is not covered by any colorable claims of executive privilege,” Clyburn added.

Tags Coronavirus COVID-19 response Donald Trump trump white house

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