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UPDATE 2-Former Trump adviser Navarro indicted for contempt of Congress -Justice Dept

·3 min read

(Adds background, on committee actions)

By Doina Chiacu

WASHINGTON, June 3 (Reuters) - Peter Navarro, former trade adviser to President Donald Trump, has been charged with contempt of Congress for refusing to cooperate with a House of Representatives investigation of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, the Justice Department said on Friday.

A federal grand jury charged Navarro with one count involving his refusal to appear for a deposition before the Jan. 6 select committee and another count for his refusal to produce documents in response to a subpoena, the department said.

Navarro was due to make an initial appearance Friday afternoon in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Navarro, a protectionist and longtime trade hawk on China, is the second prominent Trump adviser to face criminal charges in the investigation, although the House Jan. 6 select committee has recommended charges for several former officials and aides who have refused to cooperate.

Stephen Bannon, the onetime chief strategist for the former Republican president, was criminally charged in November for defying a subpoena from the committee.

The Democratic-controlled U.S. House recommended the contempt charges in April for Navarro and Daniel Scavino, a former deputy chief of staff to Trump.

In December, the chamber voted in favor of a contempt charge for Mark Meadows, a former House member who became Trump's chief of staff. There has been no word from the Justice Department on whether charges will be filed.

In its subpoena, the Jan . 6 committee said it had reason to believe that Navarro had information relevant to its investigation, the department said.

The indictment was returned on Thursday and unsealed Friday. Each count of contempt of Congress carries a minimum of 30 days and a maximum of one year in jail, as well as a fine of up to $100,000.

Some 800 people, including many White House aides, have been interviewed in the committee's investigation, as the panel prepares for public hearings that begin next week.

The Democratic-led Select Committee has been investigating events leading to the assault on the seat of the U.S. government by thousands of Trump supporters on Jan. 6, 2021, when Vice President Mike Pence and lawmakers gathered to certify Democrat Biden's victory in the November 2020 presidential election.

After Trump repeated his false claims at a raucous rally that his defeat was the result of fraud, mobs rampaged through the Capitol, injuring police officers and sending Pence, lawmakers, staff and journalists fleeing for safety.

Navarro, who was also part of Trump's COVID-19 task force, has said in media interviews and in his book that he helped coordinate an effort to halt certification of Biden's victory and keep Trump in power.

Four people died on the day of the attack, and one Capitol Police officer who fought with rioters died the next day. Four officers have since taken their own lives. (Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Alistair Bell)