Peter Navarro
Peter Navarro speaks to reporters as he departs U.S. District Court after he was indicted on two counts of contempt of Congress. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

A former San Diego politician who became a top White House aide to Donald Trump testified Monday that the President “directed” him to defy the House Jan. 6 select committee.

Navarro, a trade adviser known for his anti-China views, is scheduled to go to trial Sept. 5 on criminal contempt charges for refusing to comply with a subpoena from the committee.

The 74-year-old economist is well known in San Diego because he ran unsuccessfully for local and state offices five times as a Democrat or independent while living here and teaching economics at UC Irvine.

Navarro told District Judge Amit Mehta in Washington that Trump claimed executive privilege to shield him from having to cooperate with the committee’s request for testimony and documents.

“I was directed by the president not to,” Navarro said in court.

“There was no question that the privilege had been invoked from the get-go — none,” he said.

Prior to the subpoena, Navarro had published reports purporting to show widespread fraud in the 2020 election. The reports were later debunked.

If the case heads to trial and Navarro is convicted, he could face up to two years in prison.

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.