Why That Peter Navarro Interview Isn’t Enough To Charge Him with Sedition

A slew of people have asserted as fact that an interview that Peter Navarro did on his book offers adequate proof to charge him with sedition. The interview (and I assume the book) lays out a plan called the Green Bay Sweep that, Navarro hoped, would result in Trump remaining in power. It entailed:

  • Recruiting “over 100 congressmen, including some senators” to raise objections to the vote count, setting off 24-hours of news coverage on false claims about the election
  • Increasing public pressure — unrelated to threats of violence — to lead Mike Pence to send the electoral vote back in six swing states
  • Using that delay, getting those states to change their vote results

Navarro’s role was to invent the false claims members of Congress would use to fill up 24-hours of “debate.”

Navarro’s part in this ploy was to provide the raw materials, he said in an interview on Thursday. That came in the form of a three-part White House report he put together during his final weeks in the Trump administration with volume titles like, “The Immaculate Deception” and “The Art of the Steal.”

“My role was to provide the receipts for the 100 congressmen or so who would make their cases… who could rely in part on the body of evidence I’d collected,” he told The Daily Beast. “To lay the legal predicate for the actions to be taken.” (Ultimately, states have not found any evidence of electoral fraud above the norm, which is exceedingly small.)

I’d like to talk about why this book and interview are not enough to charge Navarro with sedition, and in fact the current media frenzy into is is actually counterproductive to the legal investigation.

A book and an interview are not evidence

The most important reason why this book and Navarro’s interviews on it are not enough to charge him is that books are probably not admissible evidence.

This is retroactive telling about what, Navarro claims, he and Steve Bannon and others planned to do. While the book might be part of a conspiracy to cover up what Navarro and Bannon planned, in and of itself, it’s not clear it would be admissible at trial (though it could be useful at trial for other reasons, such as challenging any testimony Navarro gave).

Instead, you’d need to get all the texts and memos Navarro says documents this effort, the former of which may require seizing his phone with a probable cause warrant.

Although the bipartisan House committee investigating the violence on Jan. 6 has demanded testimony and records from dozens of Trump allies and rally organizers believed to be involved in the attack on the nation’s democracy, Navarro said he hasn’t heard from them yet. The committee did not respond to our questions about whether it intends to dig into Navarro’s activities.

And while he has text messages, phone calls, and memos that could show how closely an active White House official was involved in the effort to keep Trump in power, he says investigators won’t find anything that shows the Green Bay Sweep plan involved violence.

You’d likely need cooperating witnesses that were willing to tell this story, perhaps Navarro himself and Steven Bannon (the same guy refusing to testify to the Jan6 Committee right now).

As such, this interview is at most an investigative blueprint that, months down the road, might lead to evidence that could be used to prosecute Navarro.

Much of this is not illegal

Another reason why this interview and book are not a smoking gun is that, as Navarro describes it, much of it is not illegal.

It is not illegal to invent false claims about an election, as Navarro said he did. It might be sanctionable for a lawyer to make those same false claims to a court (as it finally became for Sidney Powell). I might be illegal to raise money off promises of electoral changes you knew to be false, which seems to be one of several premises for the investigation of Sidney Powell. But it’s not illegal to lie.

It’s also not illegal for members of Congress to raise objections on the floor, which was a central part of this plan. As Republicans never tire of reminding, Jamie Raskin did so himself in 2017.

Unlike Raskin’s challenge, the plan here was to base electoral challenges off bullshit. But even if you could prove that members of Congress knew it was all bullshit (and you would need to prove that), it’s also not illegal for members of Congress to push bullshit in Congress. Indeed, that is pretty aggressively protected under Speech and Debate. To criminalize this behavior you’d have to distinguish it from what lobbyists do all the time when they push members of Congress to adopt storylines that are factually false.

All this only becomes illegal in the context of a plan to violate the law. DOJ has been using 18 USC 1512(c)(2) to charge deliberate efforts to prevent the certification, but at least as stated, Navarro didn’t want to obstruct the proceeding in question, he wanted that process to occur, albeit stretched over 24 hours according to the very rules that judges have pointed to to affirm that it is an official proceeding. So if you were to charge it, you’d need to charge something else, perhaps trying to get Pence to violate his duty.

Much of this is probably a lie

Crazier still, people claiming that this book and interview are the smoking gun in a prosecution are treating it as a truthful description, which it would need to be to serve as admissible evidence for any crime itself (which is why it would have limited evidentiary value short of getting a whole lot of texts and testimony).

Peter Navarro is a noted liar and Steve Bannon is an even more accomplished one. And we know — because BuzzFeed fought to liberate Mueller materials — that Bannon is all too happy to tell serially false stories to protect himself from criminal exposure. At a very similar time in the Mueller investigation, Roger Stone got the press to chase his false claims like six year olds chasing a soccer ball, and to this day, the overwhelming majority of the press believe his claims about why he was prosecuted are actually why he was (though prosecutors used that to their advantage, too).

We should assume this story is of the same ilk, a cover story, which has successfully led the press to grasp onto it as a smoking gun rather than a distraction. If it is a cover story, it serves to:

  • Claim that “‘Stephen K. Bannon, myself, and President Donald John Trump’ were ‘the last three people on God’s good Earth who want to see violence erupt on Capitol Hill,'” as it would disrupt their plans. This claim is crucially important with regards the pressure campaign focused on Pence, as I’ll return to. And it is undoubtedly bullshit.
  • Claim that Navarro “felt fortunate that someone cancelled his scheduled appearance to speak to Trump supporters that morning at the Ellipse, “because “It was better for me to spend that morning … Just checking to see that everything was in line, that congressmen were on board.” This adopts the same strategy that Stone has, blaming those who organized the Ellipse rally rather than those orchestrating events at the Hill. And in this telling, Navarro was just talking to members of Congress, not communicating to any of the people who would go on to attack the Capitol.
  • Distance himself from Sidney Powell’s equally outlandish claims. In his telling, this is a plan that arose from the failures of Sidney Powell’s false claims, not a continuation of them. This treats Navarro’s efforts as an alternative to Powell’s false claims, not a continuation of them.

[Navarro] said it started taking shape as Trump’s “Stop the Steal” legal challenges to election results in Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin fizzled out. Courts wouldn’t side with Trump, thanks to what Navarro describes in his book as “the highly counterproductive antics” of Sydney Powell and her Kraken lawsuits.

  • Focus on January 6 rather than January 5. Navarro emphasizes that he spoke to Bannon first thing in the morning on January 6. Given what we know about the way the riot was finalized on January 5, I’m more interested in whom he spoke with before he went to bed.

In my experience, you learn far more in mapping out what liars are trying to cover up than you do chasing their claims as if they are the truth. And the same is probably true here.

But at the very least, Navarro’s tale attempts to dissociate himself with several contributors to January 6 that might be more obviously tied to crimes than the lies he packaged up for members of Congress to tell.

The takeaway from this book and interview ought to be that Navarro has admitted his goal was to bring maximal pressure on Mike Pence. As such, it means he shares a stated goal of a number of January 6 defendants who have already pled guilty.

115 replies
  1. WilliamOckham says:

    Navarro was on the Trump-Raffensberger call. That’s his main criminal exposure at the moment. I think you are very much correct in this statement:

    In my experience, you learn far more in mapping out what liars are trying to cover up than you do chasing their claims as if they are the truth. And the same is probably true here.

      • WilliamOckham says:

        Yeah, and Navarro’s problem with that is he, Meadows, and Powell were, for the most part, pushing the very same bullshit. Eastman was the lawyer who tried to stick to claims that at least sounded sane (except those had all been adjudicated and rejected by courts everywhere).

        • emptywheel says:

          If the books landed on my lap and I had a day to spare it would be interesting comparing the tales that Meadows and Navarro tell.

          And I assume and hope that DOJ has gotten info from either their Cloud accounts or their publishers about when they started making these claims.

        • WilliamOckham says:

          There’s probably a dissertation waiting to happen for someone to take a phylogenetic textual criticism approach to election fraud claims.

        • nadezhda says:

          Lol. We’ve got a reasonably clear timeline of public-facing steps which suggest a fairly lengthy chain for a dissertation to cover. They’d have to start with early 2016 at the latest for Stop the Steal.

          Most of the 2020 outline and terms for framing claims were clear by Aug-Sept 2020, including the importance of Jan 6. A number of areas they viewed as promising for future fraud claims (esp. mail-in or dropboxes) had been openly identified so as to prime local MAGAts to see “fraud” everywhere.

          It would be enlightening to track where and by whom certain exotic variants emerged (eg Venezuela, Italygate, the CCP, bamboo ballots) and were either abandoned or worked into an overall narrative.

          Then there’s the unending BS about each swing state – which debunked claims were embraced by the Flynn-connected crowd (the Coup PowerPoint) vs whatever masterpiece Navarro assembled. Were the Flynn and Navarro narratives competing, additive or mostly just overlapping? And by Jan 5 was Giuliani pushing one or another of the documents or just continuing to hurl whichever tidbits seemed useful to persuade a given audience?

          Would be a fascinating exercise in how terms were framed and narratives evolved

        • maureen donnelly says:

          who is the outgroup in this phylogenetic analysis? seeing phylogenetic was like seeing epistemological in a Dave Troy tweet. thanks for bringing a smile in the midst of all the sedition and lying and nastiness of the modern-day GOP.

  2. Rita says:

    Thanks for this article.

    Is Navarro trying to assist Bannon and Trump in developing a plausible story line. As in, “Gee, all we wanted was to show Congress that many people thought the election was stolen. The violence was not a part of our plan.” Of course, this doesn’t explain the bellicosity of the rhetoric, which Navarro apparently didn’t hear.

    Is Roger Stone fast becoming the smelly Limburger cheese that stands alone?

    Assuming Navarro’s book and interview are true, they are horrifying. After losing many court cases for lack of sufficient credible evidence and/or legal merit, this group of brigands went to great lengths to overturn the election, using the same evidence-free and meritless arguments as their pretext. And there may be no legal recourse.

    • Badger Robert says:

      If I understand Ms. Wheeler’s post correctly, that is exactly the purpose of the lie. Since the riot did not work, Trump and Navarro are abandoning the rioters, and disclaiming any connection to the violence. This is line announced by Eric Trump’s wife. Since the public statements were all in mob speak, they think they have deniability.
      We have to consider that the political goal of separating Trump from the rioters, like reality has separated him from the anti-vaxers, is having some success.

  3. PieIsDamnGood says:

    > As such, it means he shares a stated goal of a number of January 6 defendants who have already pled guilty.

    For conspiracy we need an agreement between Navarro and rally organizers? The acts to further the goal of pressuring Pence to do something illegal seem straightforward.

    • Paul Sturm says:

      For a criminal conspiracy we need more than just overlapping goals; we need some sort of coordination between the parties with the intent to further some criminal (or corrupt) purpose. “Sharing goals” is maybe a nod in that direction, but you still need to put them in a room together or on a conference call or something, and the conversation has to turn to something criminal/corrupt.

      • joel fisher says:

        It was my uninformed opinion that all the members of a conspiracy simply need to join in/agree with the overall goal and take some step to move things along. No need for a meeting; agreements often occur without meetings.

    • emptywheel says:

      The agreement can be tacit. It could be that Navarro agreed with Trump who agreed with Alex Jones who agreed with the militias.

      But that again requires more evidence.

  4. EdwardC says:

    Navarro said he wanted 24 televised hours of debate — basically a full day. If all six states were contested, that would be 12 hours in each chamber concurrently, with the cameras likely not on in the Senate (because they turn on their cameras far less than in the House) and at some point Pelosi may have run a motion to turn off the cameras after say the third debate. I don’t even know which networks other than Fox and C-SPAN would be running that feed after the second attempt if it stayed up. They’d all be in standby mode.

    • timbo says:

      The truth is that there’s no way this would play out in 24 hours. And that’s where the biggest lie so far comes in. 24 hours would give them nothing… they’d need weeks to get enough states lined up to send other electors that were valid under the Constitution and current laws… there would be court challenges all over the place, particularly if Pence tried to act without sanction from the SCOTUS and the majority in both Houses of Congress, etc.

      • timbo says:

        And that doesn’t include the likely riots in the streets in many sections of the country as attempts were made to cancel the valid will of the electorate. Just think what Pelosi and the DP’s reaction to such actions by the GOP might be…

  5. Sandy says:

    How I wish MSM would follow your advice and stop being led around by the nose predictably following up on every lie that is thrown up as a distraction:
    “In my experience, you learn far more in mapping out what liars are trying to cover up than you do chasing their claims as if they are the truth.”

  6. Paul Sturm says:

    Wouldn’t a charge based on “trying to get Pence to violate his duty” fail to roughly the same logic? They made claims that Pence did have the necessary legal authority, and even if they were wrong on the law, it’s not criminal to be wrong on the law.

    • emptywheel says:

      As the DOJ guy in charge of the 1512 application said when asked by Carl Nichols whether it could be applied to Trump (tho it didn’t name Trump), you’d need proof the person asking knew they were asking for something illegal.

      • Paul Sturm says:

        Thanks for the reply. By “illegal”, does that mean “violation of criminal statute”, or could it include exceeding constitutional authority?

        • Paul Sturm says:

          That’s what I suspected, but I didn’t want to go out on a limb.

          Overall I’m trying to piece together what it would take to sustain a criminal conspiracy charge against WH staffers or campaign staffers, and all the big important pieces are simply not in evidence. I have yet to see any evidence that these insiders had any coordination with any of the window-smashers for window-smashing purposes, or that any of their plans involved *criminal* acts.

          My last thread to pull is to figure out what it means legally to have a “corrupt” purpose in the legal sense, and if any of the powerpoints or legal memos or whatever would fit that definition.

          My working theory right now is that the go-betweens like Roger Stone kept the insiders sufficiently insulated from criminal liability. The highest up we’re gonna see criminal charges for would be, like, Roger Stone and Ali Alexander, and *maybe* a careless congressman or two like Mo Brooks or Paul Gosar. And maybe a couple insiders who couldn’t help themselves from lying to the FBI during the investigation.

        • bmaz says:

          For now, that is probably about right. But this is the way the ladder is climbed in such prosecutions, so time will tell.

        • WilliamOckham says:

          We have a few hints that coordination occurred. Alex Jones says that Trump directed him to lead the march on the Capitol. And, during the assault, while Trump and Guiliani were coordinating with Senators, Jim Acosta tweeted this:

          A source close to the White House who is in touch with some of the rioters at the Capitol said it’s the goal of those involved to stay inside the Capitol through the night.

          I’m not saying that’s enough to sustain a criminal conviction. I’m saying that’s enough to justify a criminal investigation.

        • Paul Sturm says:

          Oh yeah Stone’s not a willing sacrificial lamb. But I’m guessing his Proud Boy buddies may roll on him.

          I haven’t seen any hints that Bannon may have also gotten a little too close to the fire, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

        • Leoghann says:

          When it comes down to it, neither Stone nor Bannon have any loyalty except to their own asses and assets. But if things get dicey enough, they may wind up destroying one another, sorta like in a Caged Death Match.

        • emptywheel says:

          I think for “corrupt” being unconstitutional may satisfy.

          It helps, too, that Trump is on the record stating he knew he lost.

        • Paul Sturm says:

          Yeah I think if I had to build a criminal case right now based on OSINT sources, the strongest case would be built around a corrupt conspiracy to reject otherwise-proper electoral votes. That’s the only way I can see to get at Eastman or above on the ladder. And it would be a *really* tough case to make, due to the fuzzy definition of corruption.

          But hey, maybe the FBI already has a squealer who’s tying everyone who was at the Willard Hotel to explicit planning sessions with the Proud Boys and Oathkeepers. That’d certainly grease the wheels.

        • cmarlowe says:

          I’m just a mere engineer with no legal training. Is is really necessary for Trump to “know” that he lost in order to sustain a charge against him of corruptly obstructing an official proceeding? Even if he thought he actually won, so what? It seems that any attempt to stop the vote count, other than the allowed objections raised by congressman and/or senators with respect to any specific state during the count proceedings, would be considered corrupt. No?

          Can’t the pressuring of Pence (by Trump and advisors) to just not count certain votes (even though certified by the particular state) be chargeable regardless of Trump’s state of mind with respect to the election outcome?

  7. Jenny says:

    Thank you Dr. Marcy.

    “As time has gone by, I have looked more and more like Paul Revere than the alarmists my critics has sought to portray.” Peter Navarro

  8. Peterr says:

    “Mapping out what liars are trying to cover up” is a good rule of thumb for unraveling any conspiracy.

    As I wrote before on this site, this was illustrated at great and entertaining length by the late John LeCarre in his “Smiley” triology which begins with the novel Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy:

    In Tinker, Tailor, Le Carré spins a tale of the unmasking of a Russian mole embedded in the higher reaches of the British secret service known as “The Circus.” The Honourable Schoolboy is the sequel, in which Smiley and his colleagues have to deal with the aftermath of all the security breaches exposed in the earlier book. Near the opening, Smiley gathers the remains of the Circus leadership, and after displaying in excruciating detail the extent of the damage done to the Circus, Smiley points to the way forward:

    The premise, said Smiley, when they had resettled, was that Haydon [the mole] had done nothing against the Circus that was not directed, and that direction came from one man personally: Karla [head of the Russian secret service].

    The premise was that in briefing Haydon, Karla was exposing gaps in Moscow Centre’s knowledge; that in ordering Haydon to suppress certain intelligence that came the Circus’ way, in ordering him to downgrade or distort it, to deride it, or even to deny it circulation altogether, Karla was indicating which secrets he did not want revealed.

    “So we can take back-bearings, can’t we, darling?” murmured Connie Sachs [the ancient head of the Russian desk at the Circus], whose speed of uptake put her, as usual, a good length ahead of the field.

    “That’s right, Con. That’s exactly what we can do,” said Smiley gravely. “We can take the back-bearings.” He resumed his lecture, leaving Guillam [another senior spook], for one, more mystified than before.

    By minutely charting Haydon’s path of destruction (his pug marks, as Smiley called them); by exhaustively recording his selection of files; by reassembling — after aching weeks of research, if necessary — the intelligence culled in good faith by Circus outstations, and balancing it, in every detail, against the intelligence distributed by Haydon to the Circus’s customers in the Whitehall market-place, it would be possible to take back-bearings (as Connie so rightly called them), and establish Haydon’s, and therefore Karla’s, point of departure. Said Smiley.

    Once a correct back-bearing had been taken, surprising doors of opportunity would open, and the Circus, against all likelihood, would be in a position to go over to the initiative — or, as Smiley put it, “to act, and not merely to react.”

    As Marcy rightly demonstrates, Navarro’s interviews are not prima facie evidence of criminal behavior. But I agree that as she also notes, this is not to say they are not valuable when it comes to exposing what *is* criminal behavior.

    Right now, the DOJ and the Jan 6 select committee are both taking back-bearings, and mapping out the lies being told to see what the plotters would rather the investigators and the public not look at. The lies themselves reveal what they most want to keep hidden.

    • Iris Barimen says:

      It’s interesting that you relate this to Russia. I read in a recent article that Steve Bannon’s strategy for dealing with the media was the firehose of lies and false claims. That phrase made me think of Russia’s social media strategy. Since Trump is in bed with them, it would make sense for Bannon (and Stone) to adapt the idea to achieving Trump’s goals.

      Seen in that light, every book released by a Republican in the last 7 years must be part of a disinformation program. If everybody lies about everything all the time the media gets lost trying to figure out what’s true. I sure hope the 1/6 Committee gets access to every bit of digital data, because that’s the only thing that won’t be a lie.

      • Rayne says:

        Every single one of their books is not only a means to distort the public’s perception of the events but a means to be paid for their role. Wonder what sales look like for Meadows’ book — that be interesting data.

    • pdaly says:

      Great comment. And I’m inspired to locate my unread collection of LeCarre novels and to start reading in the proper order.

      • vvv says:

        I just finished *The Secret Pilgrim* in my quest to read all the Smiley’s, in order; I’ve one to go.

        Indeed, of the many strong memories of this pandemic time, my re-reading (or first reading) of LeCarre’s novels will be indelible.

  9. Joe Sommer says:

    I am not a criminal lawyer, but I don’t see the inadmissibility argument. It isn’t hearsay because it would be the out-of-court statement of the defendant: an exception to the hearsay rule. That’s just like any other confession in front of the cops. It might have to be authenticated, which the publisher could easily do.
    On the other hand, I agree that we shouldn’t get too excited by the book, and it’s likely to contain a lot of misdirection.

    • emptywheel says:

      The book could be admitted. His comments could be admitted for his own actions, tho not Bannon’s.

      But it’s not a sworn statement. It might show motive. BUt you’d need a whole lot of evidence to prove that the book matches reality.

      This book seems to be, at least in part, an attempt to forestall anyone coming looking for it.

      • Richard Smith says:

        Lawyer here. An out-of-court statement doesn’t have to be made under oath. It just has to be relevant and get past the hearsay rule, which Navarro’s book would do in a criminal case against him because hearsay doesn’t bar the statement of a party opponent, i.e., the defendant when it’s the prosecution seeking to admit the statement. And if Navarro were charged in a conspiracy case with Bannon or anyone else, it would be admissible against the alleged co-conspirators too.

        That said, it would be far more practical to just have any excerpts you wanted to use read into the record rather than admit the book wholesale. Once the book is in evidence, the jury would get to consider the entire contents, which Navarro wants to exonerate him.

        • bmaz says:

          Yeah, it is not simply that easy under any of Rules 801-803 unless Navarro was in a trial where he was the accused. And, no, relevance is not the key to any key exception. Could it get into a GJ, yeah, maybe, but that is kind of a lame use.

        • Peterr says:

          Would it be sufficient to bring to a GJ to get a subpoena against Navarro to come testify under oath? “He has publicly said X, and we’d like him to testify under oath as to whether that is actually true.”

        • emptywheel says:

          He’s never going to have to testify under oath. He can invoke the Fifth, and if DOJ were planning on charging him they might not interview him (they might hope he interviewed with Jan6 but thus far he hasn’t been asked).

          But the book is likely a big part of being able to get probable cause to get the texts, which are far more valuable anyway.

        • Rugger9 says:

          Does this fall into a “statement against interest” which can be presumed to be true and be used against Navarro? I would agree the GJ would be the best spot to make use of thia info (excerpting is a good idea too), noting that the First Law of Dirtballs would definitely apply to Navarro, who won’t shut up either on topics well out of his expertise, like COVID. The searches to come should find a lot of stuff, I think.

          Semi-OT, I also wonder whether the MAGA cult members being left behind by the insiders might get a bit sore for being played like chumps (and losers) and act out about it. Some of the cultists even booed DJT and O’Reilly last week on tour, so I would not be surprised to see the grievance become more intense (and they have guns). OTOH we also have the PBs, OKs, III%ers etc., all holding bags for DJT, and they’re not only armed but somewhat skilled and organized.

        • Richard Smith says:

          Well I did specify in a trial against Navarro. Hard to see it as anything other than inadmissible hearsay in a case against anyone else.

          As to relevance, that’s just the threshold for getting any evidence or testimony admitted. It’s not part of the hearsay analysis.

        • Richard Smith says:

          Please. This ain’t especially complicated.

          Relevance? Okay.

          Hearsay? Not a problem, APO.

          Anything else? No, overruled.

        • bmaz says:

          Lol, spare me. Take your “overruled” and shove it, and, no, there is absolutely nothing else I need from you.

  10. Leslie Vail says:

    Yes — exactly — the focus should be why is he telling this particular story now. What might he be hiding, inventing explanations for, or otherwise coordinating stories about.

  11. Rita says:

    How does Navarro’s narrative about a prolonged debate in Congress square with Bannon’s bragging the day before about how whatever was going to go down was going to go down really fast?

    Another one of those incongruities, like Trump and his allies haranguing the assembled masses with increasing bellicosity and then Trump telling them to march to the Capitol peacefully and patriotically? Or like Trump watching the violence unfold instead of stopping it.

    • Troutwaxer says:

      I’d guess lots of people proposing lots of different plans and each of them discussing their great plan with reporters. Then at the last minute Trump did whatever he wanted.

  12. harpie says:

    ew: Given what we know about the way the riot was finalized on January 5, I’m more interested in whom he spoke with before he went to bed.

    Navarro was said to be at a meeting in TRUMP’s “private residence” at the TRUMP Hotel
    at 8:33 PM on 1/5/21, so maybe it was one of these people:

    Photos put Tuberville in Trump’s hotel on Jan. 5 despite denying meeting
    https://www.alreporter.com/2021/01/27/photos-posts-put-tuberville-in-trumps-hotel-on-jan-5-despite-him-denying-meeting/ 1/27/21

    […] Among the attendees, according to [Charles] Herbster’s [Facebook] post, were Tuberville, former RAGA director Adam Piper, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, Trump’s former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, adviser Peter Navarro, Trump’s 2016 campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and 2016 deputy campaign manager David Bossie. [Bossie denies being at that meeting] […]

  13. Badger Robert says:

    Let’s observe whether Ms. Wheeler’s blog has an impact on journalists and TV lawyers.
    On Twitter is appeared at least one famous female NYT commentator was espousing a story that may have originated on Ms. Wheeler’s post above.
    The point is reflected in the astute commentators here. Navarro is a proven liar. Why is he lying this time?

  14. gmoke says:

    Peter Navarro has a Master of Public Administration from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government (1979), and a PhD in Economics from Harvard under the supervision of Richard E. Caves (1986).

    Thanks, Harvard.

    Please remember this the next time someone opines about Harvard as a “liberal” institution.

  15. Benton says:

    OT: Re. Department of Defense Cover-up?

    In the last couple of days, a Vanity Fair article from Jan 22 (linked below) has been put under the spotlight here. Information in the article raises questions about former Acting SecDef Miller’s transparency regarding his conversations with Trump. Miller’s credibility is critical because his testimony had significant influence on the DoD IG report on the Jan 6 “Protest” (as the title calls it).

    A quote in the article attributed to Kash Patel, Miller’s chief of staff, stands out. Patel says (referring to Jan 6): “We didn’t need to talk to the president. I was talking to [Trump’s chief of staff, Mark] Meadows, nonstop that day.”

    Rep. Mike Quigley comes close to addressing this “nonstop” communication flow between the DoD and the White House during Miller’s testimony before the House COR on May 12:

    Mr. QUIGLEY. Thank you, Madam Chairwoman. Mr. Miller, you had told the chairwoman earlier today that you didn’t speak with former President Trump on January 6. However, a reporter quoted another senior Defense official who said they couldn’t get through. They tried to call him. To your knowledge, did you or anybody you know try – in the office try to contact President Trump on January 6?
    Mr. MILLER. I did not. And to the best of my knowledge, I’m not aware of anyone else that did from my office either.
    Mr. QUIGLEY. Was there a discussion about whether or not the President should be reached about this?
    Mr. MILLER. No, we were able –
    Mr. QUIGLEY [continuing]. During all this discussion that were taking place, the decisions that had to be made?
    Mr. MILLER. No, I had all the authority I needed to make the decisions.

    As I mentioned yesterday, the IG report makes no reference to Patel or his “nonstop” communications with Meadows. There is only one mention of Mark Meadows, a minor one pertaining to a meeting on Jan 3. (IGp29) The closest the report comes to addressing the issue is this passage:

    “As events escalated at the Capitol, the DoD Executive Secretary moved into Mr. Miller’s office. Throughout the day, Mr. Miller exchanged telephone calls with the Vice President, Members of Congress, Cabinet members, and members of the White House staff. Mr. Miller and GEN Milley both told us that there were no calls between the President and Mr. Miller.” (IGp50)

    Kash Patel testified before the Select Committee on Dec 9. Hopefully his Vanity Fair quotes were in the investigators’ notes.


    • Peterr says:

      In the last couple of days, you’ve posted this same comment on other threads, and been answered there.

      Please stop already.

      • Benton says:

        Yeah, no problem. Sorry if I caused any trouble. I don’t need to explain to people here about all the hours it takes to go through documents, transcripts, articles, etc. to find holes in government reports and stories that journalists are overlooking. Also, the time to write up research results so others can find connections that have been missed. Just like what occurred here the last few days. EmptyWheel has been doing it for years. But, I can certainly find other things to spend my time on.

        • harpie says:

          [I don’t know if I’m speaking out of turn, but]
          This is a churlish response to a reasonable request, Benton. There is no reason you can’t continue your OT investigation/discussions at the last thread you started. That post will be active for about two more days. I’ve added some info there this morning.

        • Benton says:

          By no means are you speaking out of turn. However, I didn’t interpret Peterr’s comment as a reasonable request to continue this in the previous thread. He’s asking me to stop. This is consistent with his viewpoints expressed in previous comments.

          Additionally, he accused me of making “this same comment on other threads”. That is false and is easy for anyone to verify. For example:

          1) The comment here highlights a “nonstop” communication flow between the DoD and the White House on Jan 6. It shows that Christopher Miller was not transparent about this in his House testimony and that the DoD IG report either missed this important information or suppressed it.

          2) My previous comment highlights an undisclosed meeting that Miller and Kash Patel may have had with Trump on Jan 5. Again, Miller was not transparent about this in his House testimony and did not reveal it to the IG or else the IG suppressed it.

          These revelations weren’t available until another person here remembered Miller/Patel’s statements in an old Vanity Fair article. As far as I know, this information about Miller’s and the IG’s possible deceptions and suppression of information haven’t been reported anywhere else. I couldn’t have commented on it in other threads.

          I consider this critical information because:

          1) The former Commanding General of the DC National Guard William Walker has demanded the retraction of the IG report. Also, his former Staff Judge Advocate said the “DoDIG report is replete with factual inaccuracies, discrepancies and faulty analysis” and accused military leaders of perjury. I have sought to validate these accusations by finding additional evidence of bias in the report that would give credibility to MG Walker and COL Matthews. This additional evidence could be included in letters to Members of Congress calling for the report’s retraction. I intend to do this myself.

          2) The Select Committee is obviously focusing right now on Trump’s communications pertaining to his coup attempt. The Select Committee needs to be aware of these communication flows/meetings. I can’t assume that they are aware of this because it was missed in the previous House investigation and missed/suppressed by the IG. Right now, we don’t know whether Miller has been called before the Committee to correct his previous testimony. I also have additional information that indicates Miller was deceptive or lying in his House testimony.

          I see that Peterr is listed in the “ABOUT” page for EmptyWheel, therefore I assume he is an official moderator. I will respect his request to stop.

        • harpie says:

          Sometimes OT comments are time critical to get information to as many readers as quickly as possible.

          But, long and ongoing OT comments/discussions break up the flow of conversation on a post, [which is one of the Joys of this Blog], and The Management [:-)] hopes that we keep them to a minimum until the post is older, and the topical discussion on a post has died down somewhat.

        • Benton says:

          Makes perfect sense. I was torn about what to do with this comment. I decided to error on the side of elevating it here, with the small chance that it will have a positive effect.

  16. WilliamOckham says:

    At the end of that interview, Navarro makes a ridiculous claim that, if true, would be fairly incriminating for Trump.

    Navarro said he’s still surprised that people at the Trump rally turned violent, given the impression he got when he went to see them in person during an exercise run that morning.

    “I’m telling you man, it was just so peaceful. I saw no anger. None. Zero,” he said.

    So, Pete, what you’re telling us is that somebody must have riled up these peaceful Trump supporters and incited them to commit violence at the Capitol? Who might that have been?

    • Peterr says:

      Oh! Oh! I know!!!

      It was Antifa!
      Or AOC!
      Or Anthony Fauci!
      Or the World Health Organization!
      Or MSNBC!
      Or Big Bird!

      Or [looks around carefully, to see if the coast is clear, them whispers] all of them, Katie!

      /beats head against desk

    • Rita says:

      How much of what Navarro says is just trying to please the Don, how much is trying to frame the narrative, and how much is Navarro being self-aggrandizing is hard to tell. When Navarro was on Bannon’s podcast recently, he said that Bannon was the hero of Jan. 6th. That kind of obsequiousness is indicative of a lieutenant, not a capo.

      Navarro doesn’t seem to be one of the prime members of Trump’s inner sanctum.

    • Stuart Dahlquist says:

      “I’m telling you man, it was just so peaceful. I saw no anger. None. Zero,” he said.

      Considering Mo Brooks appeared at the podium on 1/6 wearing body armor this seems an incredible stretch. Also Roger Stone- in the run up to 1/6- putting a public call out for armor, communications devices, etc screams BS.

      • Rugger9 says:

        It’s another example of the GQP trying to change history, but you are correct in your interpretation. Body armor isn’t needed in a peaceful protest.

  17. BobCon says:

    It’s worth noting this book isn’t necessarily the cover story he’d tell now — it’s the cover story he thought would work when he signed the contract and submitted the story outline.

    Publishing the book takes time, and this must have been frozen a while back. To an extent what he is saying now in interviews is an attempt to reconcile the version when the book was put to bed with the cover story now.

      • BobCon says:

        Meadows was transparently obviously running a version of his cover story as a prime source for I Alone Can Fix It, as Isaac Chotiner has regularly ripped into Rutter and Leinnig for allowing.

        But he had the insulation of knowing they would never confirm anything against whatever confidentiality agreement they had.

        Going to a publisher with this stuff in his own name many months ago was a huge act of faith on his part (likewise for other participants and their books).

        It was odd to calculate such low risks when they still would have had other, more nimble and lower risk spin opportunities at this time if they needed them

        • P J Evans says:

          I wonder if he was, at that time, still thinking that the former guy was going to protect them from any (assumed to be weak) investigation Congress would have.

        • BobCon says:

          I think there’s a good chance they figured DOJ and the 1/6 Committee would never get coordinated. The press seemed pretty eager to settle for a narrative that the White House was angry and sloppy but not connected to the worst of 1/6, and many in the WH had actually backed ending it.

          The press also seemed awfully caught up initially in thumbsucking over bipartisanship and the 1/6 Committee.

          As MW points out often, a lot of the press still doesn’t get what’s going on. I think Meadows, Navarrow etc. probably made a mistake thinking the media take on the investigations was all they needed to know, and may not have gamed out what might happen if the 1/6 Commitee and DOJ took a longer view than what the DC media said over a few press cycles.

        • emptywheel says:

          I’m reminded that Stone wrote a book about how Trump won 2016 and then, in the break between when it was clear he would be charged and when he was charged, he wrote a new intro for a paperback edition.

        • Rayne says:

          Did he ever get a paperback published, though? I can only find hardcover editions of Stone’s “The Making of the President 2016: How Donald Trump Orchestrated a Revolution.”

  18. Savage Librarian says:

    Well, it’s been a helluva year (or 5 or 6.) Time to get those toasts in order for the new year. Navarro may be familiar with this one and wondering who’s left to share it with:

    “Friends may come and friends may go
    and friends may peter out, you know,
    but I’ll be yours through thick or thin,
    peter out or peter in.”

    [Sylvia Cadesky (aka Saucy Sylvia) recorded this on “Sex Is the Thing” in 1968. Some folks here may have heard her on the radio when she was in Cincinnati, OH or Newport, RI.]

  19. jdmckay says:

    it’s also not illegal for members of Congress to push bullshit in Congress.

    Looks to me, for years now, as though this… affirmatively stated, is Repubs Prime Directive!!!

    I am reminded of an interview I read years ago with Bertrand Russel. When asked: “How is your search for truth going?”, Russel replied: “We haven’t found any yet.”

    Navarro is a serial liar. His misinformation and misdirection on COVID alone is enough to warrant serious consequences AFAIC.

  20. Tom says:

    I’m wondering if Navarro is trying to shift the blame for the January 6th riot from Trump & Co. to Mike Pence. He seems to be saying something along the lines of, ‘You might not agree with the plan that we–Trump, Bannon, myself, etc.–came up with, but our intentions were entirely peaceful. Our plan might have resulted in days and weeks of rancorous debate at the state and federal levels before matters were resolved, but no-one would have died or been injured in the process. Unfortunately, Mike Pence refused to go along with our plan. It was his stubbornness and intransigence, his refusal to heed the will of the people, that gave agitators in the crowd the opportunity to spark a violent and bloody riot, a riot that need not have happened if only Mike Pence had done the reasonable thing and gone along with our plan.’

    • Rayne says:

      Not a particularly convincing argument; at the point at which Pence would have acted for/against Team Trump’s plan, Pence had already been whisked away from the Senate floor, evacuated just ahead of the insurrectionists breaching and rioting inside the Capitol.

  21. surfer2099 says:

    “But it’s not illegal to lie.”

    Uh really?
    If you lie in court, it’s perjury. That’s illegal.
    If you lie to a police officer or an investigator, it’s obstruction of justice. That’s illegal.
    If you lie to obtain money, it’s fraud. That’s illegal.

    So, lying isn’t illegal when in a book, That’s called fiction and it’s not under oath.

    • bmaz says:

      Yeah, really!

      1) If you lie in court, it “might” be perjury, but ONLY if the declarant willfully made a false statement under oath in court, knowing it was false, AND the statement was specifically material. That is a lot harder than you think.

      2) Lying to a cop if federal, can be a false statement, but is not necessarily “obstruction”. As to state LEOs, it becomes even more nebulous.

      3) Lying to “obtain money” may, or may not, constitute fraud. But the same concerns in 1) above are still pertinent.

      4) And, no, not all books are fiction.

  22. Iris Barimen says:

    We need to start treating this like the foreign influence operation it is. Get the NSA involved. The only thing I’ll believe is the sigint. Everything is or could be a strategic falsehood.

      • Iris Barimen says:

        I wonder.

        The Muller report was pretty clear and detailed as to foreign influence and it was buried by a corrupt Attorney General and Senate.

        There must be consequences.

        • bmaz says:

          What was “buried” about it?? It is available on Amazon. You can download a PDF from the net. Did Barr use subterfuge at first to mischaracterize the findings? Sure, but calling it “buried” is bogus. The full SSCI torture report was “buried”, but not the Mueller report.

  23. rattlemullet says:

    Please explain to me how this statute was not violated.


    18 U.S. Code § 2384 – Seditious conspiracy

    If two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof, they shall each be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both.

    • bmaz says:

      Violated by who? How so? Who is/are the co-conspirators? Does any relevant conduct and/or overt acts involve politically protected First Amendment speech? Are you ready for the partisan maelstrom that will result? There are a lot of similar issues in doing so, and the last time DOJ tried to apply §2384, to say it did not go well is an understatement.

      Secondly, the way conspiracy case are generally worked is from bottom up. Take the smaller fry, get them pleaded out and/or cooperating and build up to the bigger charges you might contemplate. That is exactly what DOJ has been doing, as has constantly been pointed out on this blog.

      • rattlemullet says:

        How do I answer those questions? Only from a layman’s perspective. I only have access to the public record. When it comes to the public record I am a neophyte compared to the commentariat on this blog. I have come to learn that with high profile cases the prosecutors have to be damn near perfect to get a guilty verdict and all that relies on the proven evidence. I can only imagine the difficulty of prosecuting seditious conspiracy, involving sitting senators and congresspeople and the president himself. I would rather be on the defense team.

        But first I have a question, Is there a statute that makes it is a crime to disrupt the congressional certification of a presidential election that all state have verified as true and accurate? If so then I proffer that any two people that discussed delaying this process, “to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States” or for the insurrectionist “to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof”, be involved in a seditious conspiracy. Based on what I read here and elsewhere plenty of people have admitted to coordinating to delay the certification vote in congress on the 6th. I will also say that all the Trump supporters who showed up at the insurrection rally did not show up with independent freewill, they are rather lemming like. They were coordinated and their intent was apparently coordinated between various groups to disrupt the certification vote by congress. Some with the clear intent to hang the Vice President and execute the Speaker of the House. There was a gallows built for that purpose, I doubt that should be construed as political speech. The people that gathered were exhorted on by many speakers including the president himself. The intent to disrupt proceeding was in writing all over the republican rightwing websites leading up to the 6th. I do know the DOJ is working from the bottom up because you start with the low hanging fruit.

        The difference here is that, in my opinion, is that conspiracy cases generally the top echelon of the conspirators do not openly speak of what they are conspiring to do. I think of Mob bosses. The upper echelon in this case were stating public everyday that the election was fraudulent, with no proof, that Biden did not win the election, contrary to the certification by every state. They used that lie as a shield, political speech, to attempt to delay, disrupt the certification. Many senators supported the no certification vote with no valid reason. They surely discussed and coordinated this process to buy time insert false electors or return the vote back to republican controlled congressional houses. They were supported by a mob that was called to arms by its leaders in full public view and exhorted by their leaders and the Putin Network, Fox News, cough, cough and right wing scream machine. If it wasn’t for the fact that the leaders were so incompetent and its leader a narcissist, they could have succeeded. They were truly animated in their attempt like the keystone cops.

        I am ready for the maelstrom you ask? I doubt it but I do know who is ready and that is the violent right wing of the republican party. They are openly asking when they can start killing people. I know who is not ready and that is the federal government. I know the wheels of justice spins slowly but they have only 8 months to rid the American system of this cancer.

        • Rikol says:

          My understanding from Popehat and QuestAuthority is that to violate the insurrection statute you need to use force. Otherwise you might be able to violate it by voting. Most of the bits you quote start with or contain the words ‘by force’.

          Delaying the certification, which doesn’t require violence but does require corrupt intent, falls under the obstruction statute 18 USC 1512, which is already being used against low level people.

        • bmaz says:

          The question propounded was as to 18 USC 2384, which is the statute for seditious conspiracy. That crime does not require actual force, but rather involves using, or planning to use, physical force against the U.S. government.

          What you responded with is the insurrection statute, which is 18 USC 2383, which involves inciting, assisting in or engaging in a full-on rebellion against the government, i.e. a step beyond just conspiring against it, and requiring significant violence be involved.

          They are similar, but distinct, crimes.

        • Riktol says:

          Good points, although I think you’re ascribing me far more knowledge of the US code than I actually have.
          Seditious conspiracy (2384), the key points as far as I can make out, is that you need to prove 1) there was a plan, 2) the objective was to overthrow the government (or something similar in the statute like “prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law”), 3) the plan involved violence, 4) that person X, Y and Z were involved with or part of the plan.

          Meadows and Navarro appear to have been part of a plan which is point 1, the plan may satisfy point 2 but I’m not certain, but I’m not aware of any information suggesting the plan satisfies point 3. So AFAIK at the moment it would seem that they skate from that particular charge and I’m not certain there is clear information tying Trump to the plan. I’d like to note now that I’m not a lawyer and I definitely don’t know everything about Jan 6th so maybe I’m missing something.

          One other point, the Jan 6th Committee hasn’t exactly released everything they know, and can still investigate for at least another 12 months to find out missing details. On top of which DOJ can investigate as well, for at least 3 more years.

    • Eureka says:

      DOJ *might* go there/get there with a limited set of individuals such as certain Oath Keepers. For example and IIRC, seditious conspiracy was cited as a possible offense on the search warrant for OK lawyer Kellye SoRelle. Look up Ryan J. Reilly’s reporting at HuffPo on this.

      However, bmaz’ larger points stand, and, relatedly, as ew often writes, the obstruction statute DOJ is pursuing in relevant cases appears to be both more straightforward and can carry (as applicable, with (terrorism) enhancements) similar sentencing weight (while also remaining flexible to a variety of situations).

      ETA: read Marcy’s introduction here:


        • Eureka says:

          She is a gift, yes. As an aside to your recently shared poem, I apparently have some corn-on-the-cob socks arriving shortly in a wild multipack. Happy and New Year to you, too, SL!

        • Savage Librarian says:

          I don’t know whether to say, “Corny” or “Sock it to me!” I have a few pairs of fun socks myself.

          But as to where I planted (or replanted) that poem, I have since had some thoughts. A handful of possibilities occurred to me about that commenter. One is that he/she may be analogous to Cob in the poem I shared.

  24. Charles Wolf says:

    “Navarro didn’t want to obstruct the proceeding in question,…”

    I don’t want to use the “Getaway Driver” objection so what about if one of “The Brains” behind the caper said no loaded guns, no shooting, even stayed back at the hideout, -but the hotshot disobeyed and blew away someone in the crowd. ?
    Does that participant get the Navarro exception?

Comments are closed.