Chairman James Clyburn of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis has subpoenaed me. His partisan objective is to conduct a show trial that will allow his grandstanding committee to wrongly portray the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic as deficient and flawed.
Mr. Clyburn’s subpoena is not just a frontal assault on executive privilege. It marks yet another attempt by the Democrat Congress to weaponize its investigatory powers.
Concerning privilege, I served at the right hand of former President Donald Trump as an assistant to the president — the highest advisory rank within the White House, a position well-recognized by both Democrat and Republican administrations. Mr. Trump has clearly asserted executive privilege and ordered me not to cooperate with Mr. Clyburn’s subcommittee.
Therefore, based on well-settled law, I am unable to cooperate with Mr. Clyburn’s subpoena until such time as these matters of executive privilege are adjudicated or negotiated.
Given Mr. Trump’s instruction and assertion of executive privilege, I have absolutely no intention of cooperating with what both the former president and I regard as yet another Democrat witch hunt. I will hold this ground despite repeated threats by the subcommittee to force me to breach executive privilege.
Consider this: After receiving a subpoena by email and acknowledging receipt of the said subpoena, one of Mr. Clyburn’s jackboots still showed up at my door with a badge to personally deliver the redundant document in the early morning. Numerous emails have also contained veiled threats of criminal prosecution for contempt.
I am not going to be intimidated. Nor am I going to spend a single dime on attorneys.
If Mr. Clyburn wants to try to do to me what has been done to former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon — drag me off in handcuffs for an arraignment for contempt of Congress — so be it.
But these Democrats need to understand that what goes around comes around. Suppose Mr. Clyburn continues his attack on executive privilege and is successful at it. In that case, he will weaken future presidents and harm the republic by stifling open and honest communications with the president of the United States. Here the law is both clear and unequivocal.
In 1977, the Supreme Court ruled in Nixon v. Administrator of General Services that executive privilege “is necessary to provide the confidentiality required for the president’s conduct of office. Unless he can give his advisers some assurance of confidentiality, a president [can] not expect to receive the full and frank submissions of facts and opinions upon which effective discharge of his duties depends.” In lay terms, if top advisers within the White House have to worry about their communications winding up in hostile, leak-prone partisan congressional committees, all hope is lost.
The Supreme Court’s ruling is consistent with George Washington’s decision establishing the principle that the chief executive should only respond to congressional document requests if he deemed it consistent with the “public good.” And Thomas Jefferson invoked this same principle during Aaron Burr’s impeachment trial when Jefferson denied congressional demands for both testimony and documents.
The 1977 Nixon case also makes clear that executive privilege “cannot be measured by the few months or years between the submission of the information and the end of the president’s tenure” and therefore “the privilege survives the individual president’s tenure.” Given that Mr. Trump has asserted executive privilege in my circumstance, I have no other choice than to obey my commander in chief. There can be no half measures here or limited cooperation like I see from the likes of a fearful Mark Meadows.
The proper course for Mr. Clyburn is to take the subpoenas to Mr. Trump’s lawyers. The matter is out of my hands with the president’s assertion of executive privilege.
In closing, I note that more Americans have died during the Biden administration, which had access to a suite of vaccines from day one, than all of those Americans who died during the Trump administration. In my book, “In Trump Time: My Journal of America’s Plague Year,” I document in great detail the hundreds of thousands of American lives Mr. Trump saved by moving swiftly and early in the pandemic.
I also note that Chief Medical Adviser Anthony Fauci appears to have been directly responsible for creating the pandemic itself through his support of the Wuhan Institute of virology and dangerous game-of-function experiments. Investigating Dr. Fauci and the blood on President Biden’s hands would be a far better use of Mr. Clyburn’s time — and Mr. Clyburn should hang his head in shame for his political role in delivering us the worst president in modern history.
• Peter Navarro is the former assistant to the president for trade and manufacturing and author of “In Trump Time: A Journal of America’s Plague Year” (All Seasons Press).