Peter Navarro’s Play For A Trump Pardon Shows How Broken Things Really Are

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Ex-Trump White House advisor Peter Navarro talks to the media as he leaves federal court on June 3, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
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Navarro Convicted Of Contempt Of Congress

In the movie version, Peter Navarro would be the nervous, talkative, disrespected schlump who the audience enjoys seeing getting his comeuppance. Think: Wayne Knight’s character in Jurassic Park. Donald Trump has swallowed Peter Navarro alive.

I’ve not seen a stupider white-collar criminal than Navarro. He refused to comply with the Jan. 6 committee’s subpoena. He couldn’t get Trump to assert executive privilege on his behalf. He went to trial with no defenses. He put on no witnesses. The jury deliberated for about four hours before convicting him on both counts of contempt of Congress. He’s due to be sentenced in January.

But I’m not here to dunk on Navarro. It’s too easy. It feels unkind. I can’t quite muster sympathy because he’s done it to himself. But there are larger forces at play here. Let’s talk about those.

Navarro is aiming for a double bank shot: 1) Trump wins election in 2024; and 2) Trump pardons him. It’s a risky bet, on both counts. In Trump we trust. Good luck with that.

Navarro is not alone. A host of Jan. 6 defendants, Trump sycophants and assorted hangers-on are banking on Trump winning and granting them pardons. It’s an “issue” in the GOP presidential primary insofar as candidates are preening over who would do the most to pardon Trump-era wrongdoers.

And so it sets up a presidential election that on top everything else places the pardon power front and center and puts at stake the liberty of a legion of insurrectionists, bad actors, and future threats to the Republic.

But in the meantime, it sets up an extraordinary dynamic in the criminal justice system, with defendants working the angles, not on the legal merits or to gain some procedural advantage, but to best position themselves for a pardon at some point down the road. It’s led to abject behavior by defendants at sentencing followed immediately by recantations in public (see the next item below).

You can understand the strained logic of hoping Trump will eventually rescue them with presidential pardons. He abused the hell out of pardons in his first term, including for his own self-protection, so the precedent is established. Roger Stone and Paul Manafort, please come forward.

But there’s not a precedent that I can recall for criminal courts to be a mere way station on the way to a presidential pardon or for judges to be props in a public spectacle to win the benevolence of a wannabe strongman seeking a return to power.

It’s another perhaps subtler way (but not that subtle!) in which Trump is a sustained attack on the rule of law. And there’s no obvious structural answer for what to do about it. The practical answer is make sure he doesn’t win in 2024.

One Big Con Job

We keep seeing it with the Jan. 6 defendants, especially the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers: Putting on a good show of crocodile tears for the judge at sentencing then turning right around and waving a defiant fist in public.

Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio is no exception:

The Day Ahead

Expect the public release of the special grand jury report that’s been kept under seal in Georgia.

Fani Willis Likes To Dunk On Morons

  • TPM: Fani Willis Responds To Jim Jordan’s Demands With List Of Things He Could Be Doing With His Time Instead
  • Politico: Willis dismantles false Trump electors’ claims about Hawaii precedent

Something Is Up 👀

The Jan. 6 grand jury that Special Counsel Jack Smith is using was spotted back at work Thursday at the federal courthouse in DC.

Trump Dithering In Georgia Case

Another weird filing yesterday by Donald Trump in the RICO case in Georgia, alerting the judge that Trump may seek removal of his case to federal court.

There’s no procedural reason to provide such a notice of possible intent, and I’m not clear on exactly what the strategy is, except perhaps to reinforce the judge’s overall impression that there are a lot of procedural wrinkles ahead that would make a quick trial next month of all 19 defendants exceedingly difficult.

As for why Trump hasn’t sought removal yet, he has 30 days after arraignment to seek removal, as the filing explicitly noted. So it appears that as part of his delay strategy, Trump is happy to let that clock keep ticking down. No rush. It also gives him a chance to see how the federal judge considering removal rules in Mark Meadows’ case. And there remains the possibility that if Meadows succeeds, the cases against all the defendants may get shifted to federal court.

Latest On The Disqualification Clause

Kate Riga talked to Senate Democrats yesterday about using the Disqualification Clause in the 14th Amendment to keep Trump off the 2024 ballot.

Hmmm …

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) denies that he was involved in any kind of scheme to supplant then-Vice President Mike Pence and preside over the Jan. 6 certification of the Electoral College vote.

What The Post-Dobbs World Looks Like

A new report by the respected Guttmacher Institute portrays a post-Dobbs world of women fleeing across state borders to obtain abortion services.

5th Circuit Sides With Abbott On Buoy Barrier

The reactionary appeals court quickly put on hold a lower court ruling that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s border buoy barrier in the Rio Grande was illegal while it considers his appeal.

Maui One Month After The Conflagration

The FBI is working through a list of more than 380 people who remain missing and unaccounted for after the Lahaina fire.

No Need To Worry. It’s All Fine.

An account in Walter Isaacson’s new biography “Elon Musk” offers new details on the world’s richest man using his control over Starlink to thwart a planned Ukrainian attack on the Russian fleet in Crimea.

To Laugh Or To Cry?

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