by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
In an initial court appearance following his arrest on Friday for contempt of Congress, former Trump adviser Peter Navarro stood before an obviously concerned federal magistrate. “Every time that you’re speaking,” Judge Zia Faruqui tried to explain, “it could mean potentially putting yourself at risk.”
It was entirely sensible advice about self-protection — and it was promptly ignored. Navarro, 72, went directly outside and blasted the charge against him, the Democrats, and the FBI.
Judge Faruqui’s concern was almost charmingly naive. We live in an age of the sensational, not the sensible. The Navarro case is just one skirmish in a subpoena war engulfing Washington. No one seems to be thinking much beyond the next election.
In the buildup to next week’s start of public hearings by the House of Representatives’ Jan. 6 investigative committee, Democrats have subpoenaed Republican colleagues and held former Trump officials in contempt. Then, instead of simply arranging for Navarro to voluntarily surrender, the Justice Department made a dramatic public arrest of him at an airport and dragged him off to jail in handcuffs.
These subpoena fights seem to be unfolding with little consideration given to the potential costs, either for Washington institutions or the individuals involved.
A variety of polls show, according to the political site FiveThirtyEight, that “Americans are moving on from Jan. 6th — even if Congress hasn’t.” With waning interest in the investigation, congressional Democrats and some in the media have pushed “blockbuster” new disclosures. However, many of their disclosures simply confirm what is already known. …
… The problem is not that the committee will move forward with hearings or a report. Despite its partisan composition and agenda, there is always a value to greater transparency about what occurred on that tragic day. The problem is the effort to ratchet up interest through conflict.