Obama-appointed Judge Agrees: FBI Arrest of Peter Navarro ‘Curious’
U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta agreed Friday with defendant Peter Navarro, a former economic adviser to President Donald Trump, that his abrupt arrest by the FBI at Reagan National Airport last month for contempt of Congress was bizarre.
As Breitabrt News reported in June, Navarro was not provided an opportunity to turn himself in, but was treated as a flight risk and arrested at the airport:
Navarro spent hours in custody and in court, “having at it,” in the words of Fox News anchor Neil Cavuto. He confirmed that he had been arrested while boarding a domestic flight …
Outside the courthouse, he told reporters that he had offered the FBI a “modus vivendi” of cooperation last week, but that they had arrested him at the airport instead, in the manner of “Stalinist Russia or the Chinese Communist Party.” He described his treatment by the FBI as “terrorism” and “coercion” and as a form of punishment and intimidation.
According to Politico, Judge Mehta — an appointee of former President Barack Obama — agreed with Navarro that the arrest appeared excessive, given the non-violent nature of the misdemeanor crime with which he is charged:
At a hearing in Navarro’s case Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta signaled that he agrees that the treatment of the longtime White House trade adviser at the outset of the criminal case was unreasonably harsh.
“It is curious…at a minimum why the government treated Mr. Navarro’s arrest in the way it did,” Mehta said at the session, which Navarro attended along with his two defense attorneys. “It is a federal crime, but it is not a violent crime.”
Mehta, a former federal defender, said it was puzzling that prosecutors didn’t just tell Navarro he was going to be charged and allow him to walk into an FBI office, as some white-collar defendants are permitted to do.
Navarro is defending himself, appearing pro se after declining to cooperate with the January 6 Committee, citing concerns about executive privilege and arguing that the committee is unlawful and unconstitutional.
Navarro is one of two defendants being charged with contempt of Congress, the other being former Breitbart News executive chairman and former White House adviser Stephen K. Bannon. The Department of Justice, which President Joe Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland promised would be non-partisan, is charging Navarro and Bannon despite declining to charge Democrats in the recent past when they have defied subpoenas by a Republican Congress.