WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden on Monday denied executive privilege claims made by former Trump administration officials Peter Navarro and Michael Flynn in connection to the congressional probe into the attack on the U.S. Capitol.
In letters penned by White House deputy counsel Jonathan Su, the Biden administration rejected the shield of executive privilege purported by Navarro and Flynn in response to recent subpoenas by the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack.
“President Biden has determined that an assertion of executive privilege is not in the national interest, and therefore is not justified, with respect to particular subjects within the purview of the select committee," Su wrote in the letters sent to Navarro and to Flynn's lawyer.
Navarro, who served as Donald Trump's trade adviser, and Flynn, who was his first national security adviser, join the list of many in the former president's orbit who have claimed executive privilege in order to delay or avoid cooperating with the nine-member panel's investigation — often at the behest of Trump. Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows defied his own subpoena from the committee as he and Trump have escalated their legal battles to withhold documents and testimony about the insurrection.
Steve Bannon has also claimed the privilege, raising the novel legal question of whether or how far a claim of executive privilege may extend to communications between a president and an informal adviser outside the government.
Bannon has since been indicted on two counts of criminal contempt of Congress as a result of his defiance of the subpoena. That may be what lies ahead for Navarro if he continues to deny the committee’s request to turn over material and sit down for testimony.
The committee investigating the insurrection subpoenaed Navarro in early February, seeking to question an Trump ally who promoted false claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election.
“He hasn’t been shy about his role in efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election and has even discussed the former President’s support for those plans," Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, the committee’s Democratic chairman, said in a statement at the time.
Flynn, who twice pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and was pardoned by Trump, was subpoenaed in November.
At the time, Thompson cited a December Oval Office meeting with the then-president. Citing media reports, Thompson said Flynn and other participants “discussed seizing voting machines, declaring a national emergency, invoking certain national security emergency powers and continuing to spread the message that the Nov. 2020 election had been tainted by widespread fraud.”
In addition to denying individual privilege, Biden has also waived executive privilege on nearly all the documents the committee has asked for, citing the panel’s need to investigate the violent attack.