President Donald Trump, listens as National Defense Production Act policy coordinator Peter Navarro takes questions from the press during a coronavirus update briefing Thursday, April 2, 2020, at the White House. (Official White House Photo by D. Myles Cullen)
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Former White House adviser Peter Navarro reported to prison in Miami Tuesday for a contempt of Congress conviction, becoming the first senior Trump administration official to be locked up for a crime related to the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack.

Navarro was sentenced to four months in prison for defying a subpoena for documents and a deposition from the House committee that investigated the riot by supporters of then-President Donald Trump.

Navarro was defiant in remarks to reporters before he headed to the federal prison, calling his conviction the “partisan weaponization of the judicial system.”

He has maintained that he couldn’t cooperate with the committee because Trump had invoked executive privilege. But courts have rejected that argument, finding Navarro couldn’t prove Trump had actually invoked it.

“When I walk in that prison today, the justice system — such as it is — will have done a crippling blow to the constitutional separation of powers and executive privilege,” Navarro told reporters Tuesday.

Navarro, who served as a White House trade adviser under Trump, was subpoenaed by the committee over his promotion of false claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election in the run-up to the Capitol attack.

The House committee spent 18 months investigating the insurrection, interviewing over 1,000 witnesses, holding 10 hearings and obtaining more than 1 million pages of documents. In its final report, the panel ultimately concluded that Trump criminally engaged in a “multi-part conspiracy” to overturn the election results and failed to act to stop his supporters from storming the Capitol.

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Trump launched his general election campaign not merely rewriting the history of the Jan. 6. attack, but positioning the violent siege and its failed attempt to overturn the 2020 election as a cornerstone of his bid to return to the White House.

At a weekend rally in Ohio, his first as the presumed Republican Party presidential nominee, Trump stood onstage, his hand raised in salute to the brim of his red MAGA hat, as a recorded chorus of prisoners in jail for their roles in the Jan. 6 attack sang the national anthem.

An announcer asked the crowd to please rise “for the horribly and unfairly treated January 6th hostages.” And people did, and sang along.

“They were unbelievable patriots,” Trump said as the recording ended.

Having previously vowed to pardon the rioters, he promised to help them “the first day we get into office.”

Initially relegated to a fringe theory on the edges of the Republican Party, the revisionist history of Jan. 6, which Trump amplified during the early days of the GOP primary campaign to rouse his most devoted voters, remains a rally centerpiece even as he must appeal more broadly to a general election audience.

In heaping praise on the rioters, Trump is shifting blame for his own role in the run-up to the bloody mob siege and asking voters to absolve hundreds of them — and himself — over the deadliest attack on a seat of American power in 200 years.

At the same time, Trump’s allies are installing 2020 election-deniers to the Republican National Committee, further institutionalizing the lies that spurred the violence. That raises red flags about next year, when Congress will again be called upon to certify the vote.

Five people died in the riot and its aftermath.

Taken together, it’s what those who study authoritarian regimes warn is a classic case of what’s called consolidation — where the state apparatus is being transformed around a singular figure, in this case Trump.

Jason Stanley, a philosophy professor at Yale, said in history the question comes up over and over again: How could people not have taken an authoritarian leader at his word about what was going to happen?

“Listen to Trump,” he said.

“When a coup against the democratic regime happens and it’s not punished, that is a very strong indicator of the end of the rule of law and the victory of that authoritarian movement,” said Stanley, the author of “How Fascism Works.”

“Americans have a hard time understanding that what happens in most of the world can happen here, too.”

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