Supreme Court Won’t Shield Former SD Politico, Trump Aide Navarro from Prison

Peter Navarro
Peter Navarro faces reporters after he was convicted of contempt of Congress on Sept. 7, 2023. REUTERS/Leah Millis

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday denied a request by Donald Trump’s former aide Peter Navarro to avoid prison while he appeals his contempt of Congress conviction for defying a subpoena from a panel that investigated the 2021 Capitol attack.

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 at UC Irvine.

Navarro, who served as trade adviser during Trump’s presidency, is set to arrive at around 8:30 a.m. PT on Tuesday at a federal prison in Miami to begin serving a four-month prison sentence, according to his lawyers.

Chief Justice John Roberts, who handles certain emergency matters involving cases from Washington, D.C., acted for the Supreme Court in rejecting Navarro’s request.

A jury convicted Navarro last September of two misdemeanor counts of contempt of Congress for defying the Democratic-led House of Representatives committee’s subpoena. The committee investigated the Jan. 6, 2021, attack by Trump’s supporters and his broader attempts to overturn his 2020 election loss to Democrat Joe Biden.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit denied Navarro’s request to pause the sentence while he appeals, prompting his emergency request last week to the Supreme Court.

Roberts, in a brief order, said he saw “no basis to disagree” with the D.C. Circuit’s determination that Navarro had forfeited various arguments seeking to avoid prison, “which is distinct from his pending appeal on the merits.”

Navarro has argued that he believed that he did not have to cooperate with Congress because he thought Trump had invoked the legal doctrine of executive privilege, which shields some presidential records and communications from disclosure.

Navarro was the second prominent Trump adviser to be convicted of contempt of Congress for rebuffing the House panel. Former Trump adviser and right-wing firebrand Steve Bannon was sentenced to four months in prison in 2022. He has avoided serving the sentence while he appeals his conviction.

Trump, seeking to regain the presidency this year, is the Republican candidate challenging Biden in the Nov. 5 election.

Navarro advised Trump on trade issues during his presidency and served on a COVID-19 task force. He became a vocal supporter of Trump’s false claims of widespread voting fraud in the 2020 election. Trump supporters sought to prevent Congress from certifying Biden’s victory, clashing with police and rampaging through the Capitol.

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