President Joe Biden’s Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against former President Donald Trump’s trade adviser, Peter Navarro.
The lawsuit alleges Navarro used personal email accounts to conduct official White House business, “constituting presidential records.” The DOJ also accused the former Trump adviser of violating federal record-keeping laws when he didn’t copy the emails into an official government account or respond to the National Archives requests for the messages.
“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 lawsuit states. “Mr. Navarro’s wrongful retention of Presidential records violates District of Columbia law, federal common law, and the [Presidential Records Act].”
The Justice Department said officials initially approached Navarro about handing over the missing emails, but he refused “absent a grant of immunity for the act of returning such documents.”
Navarro’s attorneys, John Irving and John Rowley denied withholding the messages.
“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,” Navarro’s lawyers told POLITICO. “Instead, the government chose to file its lawsuit today.”
The civil lawsuit was assigned to U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, an appointee of former President Bill Clinton.
The lawsuit marks the latest in a string of public battles between the former Trump adviser and the U.S. government. In June, Navarro was charged with contempt of Congress after he refused to comply with the January 6th panel’s subpoena requests.