The Justice Department has asked a judge to order former Trump White House trade adviser Peter Navarro to return federal records they say he wrongfully kept after leaving the administration.
The DOJ’s aggressive move seeks to bring a quick resolution in their lawsuit filed against Navarro earlier this year in yet another records dispute where the administration maintains the Trump White House inappropriately handled their official records.
“There is no genuine dispute of fact that Dr. Navarro used at least one unofficial email account to conduct official business, that those records are the property of the United States, and that Dr. Navarro has refused to return the records to the United States. Indeed, his counsel has expressly admitted as much,” Justice Department lawyers wrote on Monday night.
“Because Dr. Navarro remains in possession of property that belongs to the United States, this Court should issue a writ of replevin requiring Dr. Navarro to return what he wrongfully continues to possess,” the lawyers continued.
The Navarro dispute, which is separate from his criminal contempt of Congress case, deals with emails he sent while working in the White House on the coronavirus pandemic response.
The Justice Department said Navarro used a private mail account for presidential business, “such as the need for ventilators, the creation and deployment of National-Guard based rapid response teams, and the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID,” the filing Monday said.
Because of a House committee investigation, the National Archives realized it was not in possession of the Navarro emails, the filing added.