Peter Navarro Says He'd Prove Donald Trump's Innocence Over Jan. 6 If Criminally Referred

Former White House trade advisor Peter Navarro says he would prove that ex-President Donald Trump "is innocent" in the January 6 Capitol riot if he were to be criminally referred by the House Select Committee over his "Green Bay Sweep" strategy.

In an interview with Newsweek, Navarro insisted that his so-called "Green Bay Sweep" strategy for January 6 that he coordinated with former chief White House strategist Stephen K. Bannon was "within the boundaries" of the U.S. Constitution and will ultimately clear Trump's name.

The end goal of the scheme was to keep Trump in office by pressuring Vice President Mike Pence to block the certification of the Electoral College votes in six battleground states, by drawing out the proceedings in 24 hours of televised hearings—two hours of debate in each chamber per state.

"Everything that was prescribed in the Green Bay Sweep conforms with existing constitutional law," said Navarro. "We basically peacefully came to a process to examine whether the votes cast in the election were legal."

The strategy, named after the football play famously used by Vince Lombardi's Green Bay Packers, involved more than 100 congressmen and senators, including Republican Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona and Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. The pair were the first to challenge election results in the swing state of Arizona.

Navarro described himself as "the guy who provided what we called the receipts."

"I did the the analysis that these congressmen would use in order to challenge the results," he said.

Navarro served as the Assistant to the President, Director of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, and the national Defense Production Act policy coordinator under the Trump administration.

Trump inspects electric pickup truck
Former President Donald Trump and then-White House Trade Adviser Peter Navarro check out the new Endurance all-electric pickup truck on the south lawn of the White House on September 28, 2020 in Washington, DC. Navarro served as the Assistant to the President, Director of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, and the national Defense Production Act policy coordinator during his time at the White House. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

His remarks come as the House panel probing the events that unfolded on January 6 begins to examine whether there is enough evidence to recommend that the Department of Justice (DOJ) pursue criminal cases against Trump and others—known as sending a criminal referral.

The House Select Committee, according to people briefed on their efforts, is now looking into two specific areas of crime—whether wire fraud was committed by lawmakers off assertions that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, and obstruction of Congress by attempting to stop the certification of electoral votes.

When pressed on whether he is concerned that his "Green Bay Sweep" strategy could then be damaging to himself, the former president or his allies, and result in a criminal referral, Navarro told Newsweek he believes he is "the last person that the committee wants to mess with."

"Because I'm the guy who proves beyond any shadow of a doubt that there was no way that Donald Trump instigated any of those plots," he said.

Peter Navarro says Donald Trump is innocent
Peter Navarro tells Newsweek he will prove Donald Trump's innocence is he is criminally referred by the January 6 committee. Getty Images

"The notion [of a criminal referral] is absurd," Navarro continued. "I mean, there's nothing, like, they want to go there? They're barking up the wrong tree as I'm the guy who basically proves that Donald Trump is innocent. Innocent, not guilty."

"He's innocent, of instigating any of that violence along with Steve Bannon."

"We wanted peace and calm to execute a plan that was within the boundaries clearly, of the U.S. Constitution," Navarro added. "I mean, if you start charging people for doing things like that, we might as well be in the Soviet Union."

Leading constitutional law experts however are challenging Navarro's assertion that the "Green Bay Sweep" was lawful.

Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean of the UC Berkeley School of Law in California, told Newsweek that as a matter of constitutional law, what Navarro is claiming is "nonsense."

"The Electoral College had voted in accord with the procedures set out in the Constitution and federal laws. There was no basis for Vice President Pence to reject the results of the Electoral College," said Chemerinsky.

"The so-called Green Bay Sweep, as Navarro describes it, was to pressure Pence to do this or to delay the vote in Congress, with the ultimate goal of overturning the results from the Electoral College."

"There is no basis in the Constitution for this," Chemerinsky added. "It would have been an unconstitutional, illegal coup."

He added that he believes the House Select Committee "very well may" refer Navarro to the DOJ for prosecution.

Laurence H. Tribe, an American legal scholar and a University Professor Emeritus at Harvard University, told Newsweek that Navarro's strategy "wouldn't have been within the spirit, and probably not even the letter, of the U.S. Constitution."

"Navarro's plans took the bare form of legal and constitutional vessels and poured the equivalent of poisonous fluid into them," Tribe said.

"It's true that challenging the credentials of people purporting to be electors from one of the states is well within the constitutional design," he added. "But using the formality of credentials challenges to concoct factually unfounded claims of fraud that every court has rejected not only isn't constitutional; it may well be criminal, in light of the federal criminal prohibitions of seditious conspiracy and giving aid and comfort to an insurrection."

Navarro said that so far, he has not been contacted by the panel over "Green Bay Sweep."

Newsweek contacted the House Select Committee for confirmation of Navarro's remarks, but didn't hear back by press time.

U.S. health virus briefing
(From L) Former U.S. President Donald Trump, former U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and then-Director of Trade and Manufacturing Policy Peter Navarro look on during the daily briefing on the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, in the Brady Briefing Room at the White House on April 2, 2020, in Washington, DC. 
Navarro told Newsweek he would prove Trump's innocence in the January 6 Capitol riot if he were to be criminally referred by the House Select Committee over his “Green Bay Sweep” strategy. MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images