Peter Navarro must report to federal prison after Chief Justice John Roberts rejected an attempt to delay sentencing.

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Washington — Chief Justice John Roberts on Monday rejected an attempt by former Trump White House trade adviser Peter Navarro to stay out of prison while he appeals his contempt of Congress conviction, clearing the way for to begin serving a four-month sentence. in Florida on Tuesday.

Navarro was charged and found guilty after refusing to comply with a subpoena from the House select committee that investigated the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol. Congressional investigators were seeking documents and testimony from the former White House official related to his conduct following the 2020 election and his efforts to delay the certification of the Electoral College votes.

He was sentenced to four months in prison in January. He appealed both his conviction and the trial judge’s decision to enforce his sentence while the appeal continues in litigation. Navarro has long maintained that he thought he was bound by executive privilege when he refused to comply with the committee’s demands, but the judge overseeing his case ruled that there was no evidence that the privilege was actually invoked. .

Navarro was ordered to surrender to a federal prison in Miami on Tuesday. His attorneys declined to comment on Roberts’ order.

Peter Navarro, who served as a trade adviser to former President Donald Trump, leaves the E. Barrett Prettyman Courthouse on January 25, 2024 in Washington, DC

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

A three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals already rejected his attempt to delay sentencing, arguing that he was unlikely to get a new trial or overturn his conviction.

In urging the Supreme Court to grant him emergency relief and suspend his surrender, Navarro’s lawyers argued that he does not pose a flight risk or a threat to public safety and therefore should be allowed to remain free. as you continue your appeal.

“Dr. Navarro is the only former high-ranking presidential aide prosecuted for contempt of Congress following an assertion of executive privilege by the president under whom that aide served,” his attorneys wrote in their brief. order to court.

They told the judges that Navarro’s prosecution for contempt of Congress violated the doctrine of separation of powers, so his conviction should be overturned and the charge against him dismissed.

His legal team also argued that the questions Navarro plans to raise in the appeal, which involve the assertion of executive privilege, have not been answered before and therefore warrant his release for now.

“Dr. Navarro does not dispute that his failure to comply with the congressional subpoena in question was deliberate. Rather, he disputes that such prosecution was consistent with the doctrine of the separation of powers,” they said. “Not once before Dr. Navarro’s indictment had the Justice Department concluded that a top presidential adviser could be prosecuted for contempt of Congress following an assertion of executive privilege.”

The Justice Department opposed Navarro’s attempted release, arguing that it did not meet the standard for such relief.

Roberts wrote in his order that he saw “no basis to disagree with the determination that Navarro lost those arguments in the release proceeding, which is distinct from his pending appeal on the merits.” He acted alone as a judge overseeing requests for emergency relief arising from the District of Columbia Circuit.

Navarro said in a statement that he would continue his appeal on the merits, and if he fails on appeal, “the constitutional separation of powers will be irreparably damaged and the doctrine of executive privilege dating back to George Washington will no longer function as an important safeguard.” for effective presidential decision making. “There is a lot at stake here and it is worth fighting for.”

Many of the records sought by the Jan. 6 select committee were personal communications that could not implicate executive privilege, the Biden administration said, and Navarro does not challenge the district court’s conclusion that Trump did not actually assert the privilege. .

“If the privilege was never asserted, it cannot be a defense to the prosecution here,” wrote Attorney General Elizabeth Prelogar, who represents the federal government before the Supreme Court.

Prelogar noted that presidents often refuse to assert executive privilege in response to congressional subpoenas, and said the president’s superiority in that process would be “severely undermined” if a subordinate (Navarro in this case) could override that. determination.

Navarro’s “suggestion that he was ‘obliged’ to claim executive privilege even though former President Trump did not assert it turns things exactly the other way around,” he wrote.

Navarro was not the first Trump administration official convicted of defying the January 6 Committee’s demands, but he will be the first to report to prison. Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon was found guilty of two counts of contempt of Congress and sentenced to four months in prison. The judge overseeing his case suspended his prison sentence while Bannon files his own appeal, writing that it was likely his conviction could be overturned.

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