US Supreme Court won't shield Trump ex-aide Navarro from prison amid appeal

FILE PHOTO: Trump advisor Peter Navarro departs federal court following contempt of Congress trial in Washington

By John Kruzel

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -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.

Navarro, who served as trade adviser during Trump's presidency, is set to become the first senior member of his administration to be imprisoned for actions related to the attempt to overturn Trump's 2020 election loss.

Navarro is slated to arrive at around 11:30 a.m. ET 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.

Trump is the Republican candidate challenging Democratic President Joe Biden in the Nov. 5 U.S. election.

On Jan. 6, 2021, Trump supporters sought to prevent Congress from certifying Biden's 2020 victory over him, clashing with police and rampaging through the Capitol. The committee that Navarro spurned investigated that attack as well as Trump's broader attempts to overturn his 2020 loss.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit denied Navarro's request to pause his 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.

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.

(Reporting by John Kruzel; Additional reporting by Andrew Chung in New York; Editing by Will Dunham)