As Congress’ investigation into the Jan. 6 attack advances, Donald Trump’s plan has been unsubtle: The former president wants to keep secret as much as he can from the bipartisan select committee. But as it turns out, that’s not the only congressional probe the Republican is eager to keep in the dark.
There’s also a House select panel investigating the Covid-19 crisis and the government’s response to the pandemic. Trump apparently isn’t a fan of this line of inquiry either. Bloomberg News reported over the weekend:
Former President Donald Trump told his former White House trade adviser to defy a House committee that subpoenaed him in a probe into the Trump administration’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The Communist Democrats are engaging in yet another Witch Hunt, this time going after my Administration’s unprecedented and incredible coronavirus response,” the former president said in a strange written statement. “I’m telling Peter Navarro to protect executive privilege and not let these unhinged Democrats discredit our great accomplishments.”
For now, let’s not dwell on the fact that Team Trump’s response to the Covid-19 crisis, in reality, was neither “incredible” nor “great.” Let’s also skip past the points that Democrats aren’t communists and examining how well officials responded to a pandemic is not a “witch hunt.”
Instead, let’s review how we arrived at this point.
Vanity Fair reported a few years ago that in 2016, then-candidate Trump directed Jared Kushner to help bolster his views on China. His son-in-law went to Amazon.com, where he was struck by the title of one book, ‘Death by China,’ co-authored by Peter Navarro. He cold-called Navarro, a well-known trade-deficit hawk, who agreed to join the team as an economic adviser.”
In the years that followed, Navarro became a strange voice on the Republican’s White House team, and in early 2020, for reasons that went unexplained, Trump tapped Navarro to serve on the White House Coronavirus Taskforce — where he picked strange fights in the Situation Room over hydroxychloroquine.
Not surprisingly, the panel investigating the response to the pandemic wants to chat with Navarro. When he refused to cooperate voluntarily, the select subcommittee, chaired by House Majority Whip James Clyburn, subpoenaed the former trade adviser, directing him to produce relevant materials and appear for a deposition in December.
Navarro said late last week that he intended to defy the subpoena and would instead provide congressional investigators a copy of his book. It was a day later when Trump directed his former adviser to “protect executive privilege.”
Team Trump’s desire for secrecy is obvious. What’s less obvious is what will happen next.
It’s possible that Navarro believes congressional subpoenas are optional and there are no consequences for ignoring them. The example of Steve Bannon, however, should probably give the former White House adviser pause.