The arrest of Peter Navarro on an indictment charging him with contempt after refusing to comply with the House panel investing the Jan. 6, 2021 incidents at the U.S. Capitol sets a precedent that is “dangerous to democracy,” Harvard Law Professor Emeritus Alan Dershowitz said on Newsmax Saturday.
“It’s as if somebody was called to testify about what he told his priest or his doctor or his lawyer,” Dershowitz said on Newsmax’s “The Count,” adding that Navarro was arrested after he said he would not cooperate because former President Donald Trump had initiated executive privilege.
“He invokes the privilege and immediately gets indicted, instead of the government going before a court and the judge rules whether or not the privilege applies.”
If the judge ruled that executive privilege did not apply in the case and ordered Navarro to testify, then he could be held in contempt for refusing, argued Dershowitz.
“But you cannot constitutionally be held in contempt of Congress without a judicial order,” said Dershowitz. “But if the shoe was on the other foot and it will be on the other foot if the Republicans gained control of Congress or the Senate, they will use this precedent and go after Biden administration officials and indict them if they refused to disclose information.”
This, he continued, makes Navarro’s arrest “dangerous to democracy, dangerous through the rule of law and dangerous to the concept of privilege, whether it be a priest privilege or a doctor, privileged lawyer privilege or executive privilege. I’m shocked that the justice department brought it without there being a judicial determination that he was compelled to testify.”
This means Navarro’s indictment is “unconstitutional,” and that’s a “real scandal,” that is far more concerning than the acquittal of Clinton attorney Michael Sussmann, he continued.
Navarro’s arrest means that others who had been near the former president could also be arrested, even though they can claim to have a stronger claim of executive privilege for being closer to Trump, said Dershowitz.
“That’s for a court to decide, not for a partisan congressional committee that has almost all Democrats and a few anti-trump Republicans on it, to be able unilaterally to ask the Justice Department to enforce a subpoena without first going to the court,” he said. “It’s a very, very dangerous precedent, and I don’t think it will be allowed by the courts. I think when this indictment is challenged the challenge will probably be upheld. But of course, in this these days of partisan, even judicial decisions. One can’t be absolutely certain, but it is wrong to indict him under these circumstances.”
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