Supreme Court rejects Peter Navarro's latest bid for release from prison

Washington — The Supreme Court on Monday rejected a bid from Peter Navarro, who was former President Donald Trump’s top trade adviser in the White House, to get out of prison while he appeals a conviction for contempt of Congress.

Navarro reported to federal prison in Miami in mid-March to begin serving a four-month sentence for defying a congressional subpoena after Chief Justice John Roberts denied Navarro’s last-ditch attempt to remain free while he pursues the appeal.

In early April, 15 days into his sentence, Navarro renewed his request to halt his surrender to Justice Neil Gorsuch, which is allowed under Supreme Court rules. His bid for emergency relief was referred to the full court, which denied it. There were no noted dissents. Attorneys for Navarro declined to comment.

Navarro, who is 74, has been serving his sentence in an 80-person dormitory reserved for older inmates at the Federal Correctional Institute in Miami. 

Navarro was charged and found guilty of two counts of criminal contempt of Congress last year after he refused to comply with a subpoena from the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Peter Navarro, who served as trade adviser to former President Donald Trump, departs the E. Barrett Prettyman Courthouse on Jan. 25, 2024, in Washington, D.C.
Peter Navarro, who served as trade adviser to former President Donald Trump, departs the E. Barrett Prettyman Courthouse on Jan. 25, 2024, in Washington, D.C. 

Anna Moneymaker / Getty Images

Members of the committee, which disbanded after concluding its investigation at the end of 2022, were seeking documents and testimony from Navarro tied to his conduct after the 2020 presidential election and efforts to delay certification of state Electoral College votes.

A federal district judge in Washington sentenced Navarro to four months in prison and imposed a $9,500 fine. But the former White House official appealed his conviction and the judge’s decision to enforce his sentence during appeal proceedings. 

Navarro has argued that he believed he was bound by executive privilege when he defied the subpoena, but the judge overseeing the case found there was no evidence that the privilege was ever invoked. A three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejected an effort by Navarro to delay his sentence, finding that he is unlikely to win a new trial or reverse his conviction.

The last filing in his appeal to the D.C. Circuit is due July 18, after Navarro will have served his full sentence.

In his initial request to avoid surrendering to federal prison, Navarro’s lawyer argued his prosecution violated the separation of powers doctrine, and said the questions he plans to raise as part of his appeal have never before been answered.

Navarro is the first former White House official to go to prison after being found guilty of contempt of Congress, but he is not the only member of the Trump administration to be convicted of the charge. Steve Bannon, former White House chief strategist, was found guilty of two counts of contempt of Congress and sentenced to four months in prison. The judge overseeing that case, however, put his prison term on hold while Bannon appeals. 

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