Justice Roberts rejects Navarro’s last-ditch bid to stay out of prison

Ex-Trump White House adviser Peter Navarro must report to prison Tuesday after U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts shot down his last-ditch bid to remain free while appealing his contempt of Congress conviction.

Roberts said Monday that he will not pause Navarro’s four-month prison sentence as his appeal moves forward.

Navarro has been ordered to report to a Miami prison Tuesday afternoon to begin his sentence, which will make him the first key adviser to former President Trump to serve jail time over efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

“This application concerns only the question of whether the applicant, Peter Navarro, has met his burden to establish his entitlement to relief under the Bail Reform Act,” Roberts wrote, citing an appeals court’s determination that Navarro “forfeited” any argument challenging the district court’s conclusion that executive privilege was not invoked by Trump.

“I see no basis to disagree with the determination that Navarro forfeited those arguments in the release proceeding, which is distinct from his pending appeal on the merits.”

Roberts received Navarro’s bid to avoid prison because Roberts handles emergency matters arising from the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals.

Though just one paragraph, it is the first time in a decade Roberts has published an “in-chambers” opinion, a written explanation for his ruling on a case he didn’t refer to the full court for consideration.

Navarro, 74, was found guilty last year of two counts for refusing to comply with a congressional investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol — one for failing to produce documents related to the probe and another for skipping his deposition.

U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta barred Navarro from using executive privilege as part of his defense after finding that he failed to prove privilege was ever invoked by Trump.

The judge declined to allow Navarro to stay out of prison while appealing, contending his appeal does not raise a “substantial question of law” and therefore doesn’t warrant his release.

Defense attorneys claimed Mehta’s decision “hamstrung” their defense, and during his sentencing, Navarro told the judge he had an “honest belief” executive privilege had been invoked.

In their request to the Supreme Court to put Navarro’s imprisonment on hold, Navarro’s attorneys argued executive privilege should have protected the onetime Trump economic adviser from facing charges for swerving the House Jan. 6 committee’s probe.

“For the first time in our nation’s history, a senior presidential advisor has been convicted of contempt of congress after asserting executive privilege over a congressional subpoena,” Navarro’s attorneys wrote.

“Dr. Navarro has appealed and will raise a number of issues on appeal that he contends are likely to result in the reversal of his conviction, or a new trial,” they continued. “Chief among them are whether an ‘affirmative’ invocation of executive privilege was required to preclude a prosecution for contempt of congress; what was required of former President Trump for a ‘proper’ invocation of privilege.”

Though Navarro may be the first Trump White House official to serve time for evading Congress, he wasn’t the first to be found guilty of the charge.

Ex-White House adviser Steve Bannon was also convicted on two counts of contempt of Congress last year and sentenced to four months in prison, but a different judge said he could remain free pending appeal. Bannon argued his case before a federal appeals court in November and still has not served any time.

Updated at 5:48 p.m. ET

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