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Former Trump adviser Navarro ordered to report to prison March 19

Attorneys ask appeals court to pause the start of 4-month sentence on contempt of Congress convictions

Peter Navarro, former trade adviser to Donald Trump, arrives at E. Barrett Prettyman Courthouse to be sentenced for contempt of Congress in January.
Peter Navarro, former trade adviser to Donald Trump, arrives at E. Barrett Prettyman Courthouse to be sentenced for contempt of Congress in January. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Former Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro will have to report for a four-month prison sentence on two contempt of Congress charges on March 19 in Miami unless an appeals court steps in, his attorneys said in a court filing late Sunday.

Navarro again asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to allow him to remain free while he is appealing his conviction from a jury trial last year.

If the D.C. Circuit does not do so, Navarro’s lawyers requested a halt to starting his prison sentence to allow him to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Navarro was one of several witnesses who refused to cooperate with subpoenas from the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. The House ultimately voted to hold Navarro and a handful of other witnesses in contempt and refer the conduct to prosecutors.

A federal jury convicted Navarro on two counts of contempt of Congress following a jury trial in September. The D.C. Circuit has said it would decide the legal issues in his appeal without hearing oral argument.

Last month, Judge Amit P. Mehta of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia denied Navarro’s request to stay out of prison pending his appeal. In the denial, Mehta wrote that Navarro’s arguments didn’t meet the legal standard — presenting a “substantial question” — to warrant remaining free.

Throughout the case, Navarro argued that former President Donald Trump invoked executive privilege to prevent him from testifying, which meant he should not have been held in contempt. Navarro reiterated that argument before both Mehta and the D.C. Circuit.

Navarro’s attorneys argued in the filing Sunday that Mehta decided that Trump had not “properly” invoked executive privilege, which was the first time that issue had been decided by the courts.

“Whether this Court affirms, vacates, or otherwise alters the elements of a ‘proper’ invocation of executive privilege set forth by the district court, that this issue of first impression is now before this Court warrants Dr. Navarro’s release pending appeal,” the filing said.

Navarro served as a trade adviser through the end of the Trump presidency and was an outspoken proponent of Trump’s baseless claims of fraud in the 2020 presidential election. In the waning months of 2020, Navarro published a three-part report on purported election fraud and later a book titled “In Trump Time” in which he discussed efforts to keep Trump in office after he lost the election.

The committee subpoenaed Navarro for documents and testimony surrounding those efforts, which committee attorneys claimed would fall outside of Navarro’s service as trade adviser.

Steve Bannon, the only other person convicted of contempt of Congress in connection with the Jan. 6 panel, also has an appeal pending at the D.C. Circuit. In that case, Judge Carl Nichols of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia allowed Bannon to stay out of custody during the appeal.

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