A President Biden-appointed judge slammed the Justice Department’s apparent hypocrisy on Friday for allowing attorneys involved in the Biden family investigation to defy subpoenas — even though former Trump advisor Peter Navarro is sitting in prison for doing the same thing.

District Judge Ana Reyes ripped the DOJ at a status conference for not letting DOJ lawyers Mark Daly and Jack Morgan provide testimony as part of the House Judiciary Committee’s investigation into the Biden family and the impeachment inquiry into the president. 

“There’s a person in jail right now because you all brought a criminal lawsuit against him because he did not appear for a House subpoena,” Reyes said during a hearing on the Judiciary Committee’s lawsuit, according to Politico, seemingly referring to Navarro. 


Peter Navarro giving the peace sign

Peter Navarro, White House trade advisor to former U.S. President Donald Trump, arrives to speak to the press at the Country Mall Plaza before reporting to the Federal Correctional Institution in Miami, Florida, on March 19, 2024.  (Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images)

Navarro was sent to prison in March for four months, charged and convicted with contempt of Congress after he refused to comply with a congressional subpoena demanding his testimony and documents relating to the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. Navarro said he could not cooperate with the committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack because Trump had invoked executive privilege, an argument that lower courts have rejected.

Former White House adviser Steve Bannon also received a four-month sentence for similar contempt of Congress charges but was allowed to stay free pending appeal.

“I think it’s quite rich you guys pursue criminal investigations and put people in jail for not showing up,” but then direct current executive branch employees to take the same approach, Reyes blasted. “You all are making a bunch of arguments that you would never accept from any other litigant.”

DOJ seal

The U.S. Department of Justice seal on a podium in Washington, D.C. (Samuel Corum/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

“And now you guys are flouting those subpoenas. . . . And you don’t have to show up?” Reyes continued. 

She said that the DOJ’s position would delight defense attorneys up and down the country.

“I imagine that there are hundreds, if not thousands of defense attorneys . . . who would be happy to hear that DOJ’s position is, if you don’t agree with a subpoena, if you believe it’s unconstitutional or unlawful, you can unilaterally not show up,” Reyes said. 


Daly and Morgan, two attorneys with the Justice Department’s tax division, were subpoenaed for their “firsthand knowledge of the irregularities in DOJ’s investigation that appear to have benefited Hunter Biden,” according to Courthouse News Service. 

The committee says the pair were members of a team that recommended what charges to bring against Hunter Biden for suspected tax crimes in 2014 and 2015 when he served on the board of Ukrainian company Burisma. 

That team initially agreed Hunter Biden should be charged but then reversed course and suggested he should not be charged.

Following the reversal, the Justice Department allowed the statute of limitations for those charges to lapse. The committee argues looking into this timeline is crucial to its investigation.  

Steve Bannon wagging finger

Steve Bannon, former advisor to President Donald Trump, addressed the media on November 15, 2021, after an appearance in court on contempt-of-Congress charges for failing to comply with a subpoena. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Justice Department attorney James Gilligan tried to argue that the decision to defy the subpoena came after lengthy deliberations “at a high level.”

He also argued that Daly and Morgan are current government employees, whereas Navarro and Bannon were no longer part of the government when their testimony was demanded, but Reyes seemed unimpressed by that reasoning. 


But her criticism wasn’t all directed at Biden’s DOJ.

Reyes scoffed at a Trump-era Office of Legal Counsel opinion contending that executive branch employees could defy such subpoenas if Justice Department lawyers were not allowed to be present.

She was also astonished that Gilligan wouldn’t commit to instructing Daly and Morgan to testify if the committee were to drop its insistence that government counsel not be in the room for their depositions.

“I cannot answer that now,” he said. To which Reyes responded, “Are you kidding me?”

Fox News’ Anders Hagstrom contributed to this report.  

Trump leaves Manhattan criminal court

Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks outside a courtroom in New York, on March 25, 2024.  (Brendan McDermid/Reuters/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

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