Federal Appeals Court Deals Legal Blow To Trump Aide Currently Facing Prison Sentence

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A federal appeals court dealt another legal blow to former Trump administration official Peter Navarro Monday, siding with a judge who threatened him with contempt of court.

Navarro recently began his four-month prison sentence after being convicted on contempt of Congress charges in September for failing to comply with a Jan. 6 committee subpoena. A federal judge separately threatened in February to hold him in contempt of court if he failed to turn over emails from his time in the Trump administration to the National Archives in a ruling the appeals court affirmed Monday.

“Navarro argues that the United States cannot use D.C.’s replevin statute because the [Presidential Records Act] itself has no express cause of action for the United States to seek the return of Presidential records,” the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals court wrote Monday. “Rather, in Navarro’s view, the United States’s only enforcement mechanism is to discipline current employees possessing Presidential records under Section 2209, a mechanism the United States cannot use against Navarro because he is no longer an employee.

“These arguments are without merit under clear, longstanding precedent,” the panel continued. (RELATED: Peter Navarro Speaks Out One Last Time Before Reporting To Prison)

Navarro’s argument “would leave the United States with no ability to retrieve Presidential records from employees if they refuse to return Presidential records after being disciplined or exiting federal employment,” the panel wrote.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) sued Navarro for emails held on a private account he used while in office in August 2022, alleging he “wrongfully” retained property of the United States.

District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, a former President Bill Clinton appointee, held in March 2023 that Navarro would have to turn over the emails.

“But for Dr. Navarro’s former workplace, very little about this matter would be remarkable, much less novel,” Kollar-Kotelly wrote. “Defendant agrees that he took property belonging to his former employer. He does not want to return the property.”

In the February ruling upheld Monday by the appeals court, Kollar-Kotelly wrote that it was “clear” after reviewing a random sampling of emails that Navarro “continues to possess Presidential records that have not been produced to their rightful owner, the United States.” She directed Navarro to produce the remaining “approximately 600 records” and threatened to hold him in contempt.

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