The Justice Department is suing Peter Navarro for emails from his time as former President Donald Trump's trade adviser, court documents showed.
The DOJ alleges that Navarro used at least one nonofficial email account to send and receive messages constituting presidential records, according to documents filed Wednesday with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
"While serving in the White House, Mr. Navarro used at least one non-official email account — an account hosted by the non-official service ProtonMail — to send and receive messages constituting Presidential records," according to court documents filed Wednesday.
"Mr. Navarro did not copy each email or message constituting Presidential records that was sent or received on his non-official account or accounts to his official government email account."
The DOJ alleges that Navarro did not respond to the National Archives and Records Administration about those communications that were improperly handled.
The filing said that nonofficial electronic accounts used to carry out official duties are considered presidential records and must be forwarded to official accounts within 20 days of being sent.
The department also said that Navarro, after being contacted by DOJ lawyers, "refused to return any Presidential records that he retained absent a grant of immunity for the act of returning such documents."
"Mr. Navarro is wrongfully retaining Presidential records that are the property of the United States, and which constitute part of the permanent historical record of the prior administration," the filing claimed.
Navarro's attorneys John Irving and John Rowley refuted the DOJ's claims in a statement to The Hill.
"Mr. Navarro has never refused to provide records to the government," Navarro's lawyers told The Hill. "As detailed in our recent letter to the Archives, Mr. Navarro instructed his lawyers to preserve all such records, and he expects the government to follow standard processes in good faith to allow him to produce records. Instead, the government chose to file its lawsuit today."
Navarro was indicted June 3 on contempt charges after defying a subpoena from the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.
The former Trump adviser pleaded not guilty to two misdemeanor counts of contempt of Congress. He declined an offer by the government to plead guilty to a contempt of charge, the lead federal prosecutor in the case told a judge on July 15.
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