Trump aide’s sentence for defying Congress highlights ‘two-tier’ justice system: observer
As former Trump senior adviser Peter Navarro faces a prison sentence for flouting a congressional subpoena, one prominent legal expert is calling foul, pointing what he sees as a double standard by the Justice Department.
Peter Navarro, who served in the White House under former President Donald Trump, was sentenced Thursday for flouting a House Jan. 6 Committee subpoena.
U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta sentenced Navarro to four months in prison and ordered him to pay a fine of $9,500.
The punishment is two months shorter than the six months prosecutors sought, with the fine being significantly lower than the $200,000 sought by the Biden-Garland Justice Department.
Navarro’s sentencing has raised questions about whether Biden’s DOJ would pursue similar charges against the president’s son, Hunter, whom two House committees also held in contempt for defying a lawful congressional subpoena.
John Shu, a constitutional law expert who served in both the George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush administrations, told Fox News Digital in an interview that because Hunter’s lawyers are still communicating with lawmakers and the entire House of Representatives has not yet found him in contempt, the scenarios are not perfectly synonymous.
However, Shu, added, the DOJ’s convicting and sentencing Navarro, and former Trump aid Steve Bannon in 2022, look terrible for Biden’s DOJ because, prior to 2022, the DOJ has not prosecuted anyone for defying a congressional subpoena since the Watergate era, including in 2012, when Congress held former Obama attorney general Eric Holder in contempt.
“The Biden DOJ did not offer a sweetheart plea deal to either Navarro or Bannon as it did to Hunter Biden in July 2023,” Shu noted, “and therefore it adds to the perception that it is biased and treats right-wing defendants more harshly than left-wing ones.
“It’s a terrible look, regardless of whether it is true or deserved.” Shu said.
Shu added that while he believes Navarro’s legal defense asserting executive privilege was “weak because executive privilege belongs to the office, not the person,” the DOJ has treated with kid gloves individuals who committed more serious crimes but received lighter sentences.
Shu highlighted a list of individuals who committed more serious crimes, but earned a much lighter sentence from Biden’s DOJ.
For example, former FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith received a sentence of 12 months probation and 400 hours of community service after he defrauded the government by forging a document used in the Trump-Russia scandal.
Clinesmith pleaded guilty to “one count of making a false statement within both the jurisdiction of the executive branch and judicial branch of the U.S. government, an offense that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of five years and a fine of up to $250,000.”
The D.C. District Court judge presiding over his case said at sentencing that, “[Clinesmith] lost his job, and his government service is what has given his life much of its meaning. He was also earning $150,000 a year and who knows where the earnings go now. He may be disbarred or suspended from the practice of law, you may never be able to work in the national security field again. These are substantial penalties.”
The District of Columbia Bar Association reinstated Clinesmith’s law license before he finished his court-ordered community service.
Shu also highlighted the recent case of Charles Littlejohn, who illegally obtained and leaked Donald Trump’s tax returns along with 7,500 other tax returns of wealthy individuals, including Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk.
“We’re talking about 7,500 felonies because each tax return is a felony, including that of Donald Trump. But the Biden DOJ allowed him to plead out to only one count. In other words, leaking only one return instead of 7,500,” said Shu.
Federal prosecutors are asking a judge to sentence the former IRS contractor to five years in prison.
“What if he had leaked Hillary Clinton’s or, God forbid, Hunter Biden’s tax returns? He’d probably be grinding big rocks into little rocks for the rest of his life,” Shu commented.
Fox News Digital’s Danielle Wallace contributed to this report.