WASHINGTON — A federal judge ordered former Donald Trump aide Peter Navarro Thursday to turn over to the National Archives 200 to 250 emails he sent during his time in the Trump administration using a private email account instead of his own email. email from the White House.
In August 2022, the Justice Department filed a civil lawsuit against Navarro to force him to hand over the emails after he refused to do so without first being granted immunity. Navarro’s lawyers alleged that the Justice Department was using the Presidential Records Act, which requires official White House records to be preserved, as a way to gather evidence against him in his criminal contempt of Congress case. They argued that forcing Navarro to produce the emails could violate his fifth amendment right against self-incrimination.
U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly wrote in Thursday’s ruling that Navarro was asked «to return to the United States emails from his personal email account that constitute presidential records and that in all cases were prepared during his tenure in the White House from 2017 to 2021.» The production of these pre-existing records in no way implies forced witness communication that is incriminating.”
Kollar-Kotelly, who sits on the US District Court for the District of Columbia, wrote that the Presidential Records Act «makes it clear that presidential advisers like Dr. Navarro are an integral part of the statutory scheme in the sense that they are required to preserve records during their tenure so that they can be transferred to [the National Archives] at the end of an administration».
NBC News has reached out to Navarro’s attorneys for comment.
In December 2021, the National Archives became aware that Navarro had used a personal account with ProtonMail, an encrypted email service, to send and receive official emails while serving as an adviser to the president, the Justice Department said in your demand. Navarro did not copy his official White House account in the email exchanges, nor did he forward the email chains to his White House account, a violation of the Presidential Records Act, the department said.
The National Archives contacted Navarro asking him to turn over the records, but he did not respond, according to the Justice Department complaint.
Separately, Navarro was ordered to stand trial on criminal contempt of Congress charges for refusing to cooperate with the Jan. 6 committee after a judge denied his attempt to delay proceedings so he could promote his new book. However, a judge decided in January to delay the trial for months. Navarro has pleaded not guilty to the charges.