A federal judge has questioned why the FBI made a public spectacle out of arresting former Trump White House adviser Peter Navarro at Reagan National Airport last month, rather than simply summoning him for a court appearance.
Navarro was handcuffed, denied food and water, and denied a request to phone his lawyer, as he was on his way to a speaking engagement in Nashville, Tennessee. He faces two misdemeanor contempt of Congress charges for doing exactly what Obama AG Eric Holder did (with zero consequences) - ignore a Congressional subpoena, according to Politico.
Of course, Holder was held in contempt for concealing documents related to the "fast & furious" scandal, which was tied to the death of an estimated 150 Mexican civilians - while Navarro is refusing to answer House Democrats' questions surrounding the 2020 election and the January 6th riot.
"It is curious...at a minimum why the government treated Mr. Navarro’s arrest in the way it did," US District Court Judge Amit Mehta said during a Friday hearing on Navarro's case. "It is a federal crime, but it is not a violent crime."
Mehta, a former federal defender, said it was puzzling that prosecutors didn’t just tell Navarro he was going to be charged and allow him to walk into an FBI office, as some white-collar defendants are permitted to do.
“It is a surprise to me that self-surrender was not offered,” the judge said. However, he proposed no particular response and did not demand any explanation from prosecutors. -Politico
I know many very good honest diligent hard working FBI agents keeping us safe…but like every institution, there are some bad apples and whoever ordered this arrest in this manner for Navarro is one of those bad apples.. https://t.co/eO8u6VYJZ5— Greta Van Susteren (@greta) July 16, 2022
The FBI has accused Navarro of making "numerous false statements" about his arrest, and said that his first request to use the phone that day was for a lawyer - rather, a TV producer about a scheduled interview.
One of his lawyers, John Rowley, suggested that the FBI's treatment suggested "animus" toward Navarro, considering that two other Trump White House aides who similarly ignored subpoenas - Mark Meadows and Dan Scavino - were not charged (much less arrested at an airport).
NEW: Judge questions decision and tactics used to arrest former Trump White House aide Peter Navarro. Also Navarro says no dice to plea deal on contempt of Congress charges. Story: https://t.co/JSqM179hFH And he wants his hearings in-person, which just happens to allow for this pic.twitter.com/qFexSuYRNG— Josh Gerstein (@joshgerstein) July 15, 2022
Rowley also suggested Navarro had been placed in leg irons by the FBI when he was arrested, but his client clarified after the hearing that the shackles were used by deputy U.S. Marshals when he arrived at the courthouse for his initial appearance last month. The FBI agents “are responsible for those leg irons,” Navarro told reporters.
It also emerged at the hearing Friday that Navarro rejected a plea deal offered by prosecutors in the case, proposing to drop one of the two charges and not seek more than the minimum 30-day jail time. -Politico
"This is the first time in our nation’s 250-year history that a senior adviser to a president has been criminally charged for refusing to comply with a congressional subpoena," said Rowley.
"The Justice Department...has longstanding policies about not prosecuting someone criminally for this kind of situation, so I wonder, what changed?....and we intend to find out," said defense attorney John Irving.
Navarro isn't the first Trump-era official to receive harsh treatment.
Weeks after Navarro's arrest, and just one day before the House select committee heard testimony about Trump's efforts to reverse the 2020 election, the Biden DOJ hauled former Trump DOJ official Jeffrey Clary outside of his home in boxer shorts while they executed a search warrant as part of an "ongoing fraud investigation."
New police body camera footage obtained by @HBRabinowitz shows authorities arriving at the doorstep of former DOJ official Jeffrey Clark & executing a search warrant on his home.— Zachary Cohen (@ZcohenCNN) July 7, 2022
Footage shows Clark answering the door of his Virginia home in boxers & a dress shirt ... pic.twitter.com/IJwR4NPpyy
Clark, who was central to Trump's efforts to prove that the 2020 election was fraudulent, told Fox News that the DOJ investigation into the events of January 6, 2021 were "Stasi-like" and that the case had been "highly politicized."
He proposed sending a letter to officials in swing states that Mr Trump lost to inform them that the department had “identified significant concerns” about the outcome ... as well as urging states to appoint a “a separate slate of electors” to support Mr Trump to be approved in Congress, according to testimony. -Independent
And let's not forget the time the FBI executed a pre-dawn raid on Trump adviser Roger Stone's home for lying to Congress, and somehow CNN was there before it went down (which the network said came after "more than a year of observing comings at the DC federal courthouse and the special counsel’s office – and a little luck on the timing").
And they say the DOJ isn't used as a weapon...
Not one arrest in Obama Biden, Biden Kamala admin.— 🇺🇸RealRobert🇺🇸 (@Real_RobN) July 15, 2022
U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta on Peter Navarro
“It is curious…at a minimum why the government treated Mr. Navarro’s arrest in the way it did. It is a federal crime, but it is not a violent crime.” pic.twitter.com/YWuQCFcRXD