Leah Millis/Reuters
A demonstrator takes a break on a very hot day as the jury continues deliberations in the contempt of Congress trial of Peter Navarro, adviser to former President Donald Trump, at US District Court in Washington, DC, on September 7.
CNN  — 

The federal judge who oversaw Peter Navarro’s criminal contempt of Congress conviction last week revisited the integrity of the jury deliberations in a rare post-trial hearing Wednesday morning, bringing a court security officer who accompanied the jurors into the courtroom to testify.

Attorneys for Navarro – a former Donald Trump trade adviser – have argued that jurors may have seen political protesters during the deliberations when they took a break outdoors shortly before announcing they had reached a verdict, saying it may be grounds for a mistrial.

The court security officer who testified Wednesday, Rosa Roldan Torres, had escorted all 12 jurors for a short break about 20 minutes before the jury indicated they had reached a verdict on Navarro.

“I was advised by the jurors they needed to go outside to take a break — fresh air,” Torres testified. She took them “away from the media and anybody else there at that time,” she added.

During their break, jurors walked by an individual with a sign reading, “DEFEND DEMOCRACY.” Other pro- and anti-Navarro protesters were also seen around the courthouse as the trial unfolded Thursday, but it’s unclear whether those protesters were near the jurors or what the jurors saw.

Torres testified that the jurors were never approached by any media or political protesters who were outside the court that day, and that one person with an American flag and sign was a distance away from the jurors outside during their break. She said she couldn’t recall what his sign said.

Navarro was convicted Thursday on two counts of contempt of Congress for not complying with a 2022 subpoena issued by the now-disbanded House select committee that investigated the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol.

The latest court proceeding about Navarro’s case potentially adds questions about whether his conviction will stand, as he and Trump ally Steve Bannon separately attempt to unravel their criminal liability for failing to respond to subpoenas from the House January 6 committee in coming appeals following their trials. The cases have become significant tests of congressional power, as well as political comeuppance for two of Trump’s most recognizable firebrands.

Navarro attorney John Rowley told federal Judge Amit Mehta on Wednesday that the legal team plans to formally ask for a mistrial in the coming days.

The judge didn’t rule during the hearing, saying he would wait to make a decision on the matter.

After the trial, Navarro’s defense team had learned about the jury break and questioned how much the jurors would have heard and seen from protesters outside the courthouse. Yet Torres’ testimony didn’t support that protesters were yelling or drawing attention to themselves while the jurors took their brief trip outside.

Navarro appeared frustrated during Wednesday’s hearing, at times asking the judge to give him a minute so he could speak with his attorneys. He shook his head during some of Torres’ testimony and sighed heavily as the hearing came to a close, whispering to his attorney “clarifying the record!”

02:11 - Source: CNN
Hear from ex-Trump aide after guilty of contempt verdict

Last week’s trial was a quick one, with opening statements starting on Wednesday and the jury returning its verdict the following day. Prosecutors put just three witnesses on the stand, while Navarro’s team declined to call any witnesses during the trial and conducted very little cross-examination of the Justice Department witnesses.

Navarro had sought to argue that his refusal to comply with the committee’s subpoena was because Trump invoked executive privilege in the matter. But ahead of the trial, Mehta ruled that he couldn’t raise that defense because he hadn’t produced enough evidence showing that the former president had done so.

This story has been updated with additional developments.