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Ex-Trump aide Peter Navarro will be jailed after Supreme Court rejects last-minute appeal

Peter Navarro, the former Trump White House trade adviser who later helped Donald Trump devise a plot to remain in office after losing the 2020 election, will report to a federal prison facility in Florida on Tuesday after the Supreme Court denied his last-ditch bid to stay his sentence pending appeal of his conviction on two counts of criminal contempt of Congress.

In a brief opinion issued from his chambers, Chief Justice John Roberts — the justice responsible for appeals from Washington, DC federal courts — said Navarro had not established that he was entitled to remain free under provisions of the Bail Reform Act while he continued to appeal his conviction on the grounds that he should have been permitted to argue that he was following orders from the former president when he defied a subpoena from the House January 6 select committee.

“The Court of Appeals disposed of the proceeding on the ground that Navarro ‘forfeited’ any argument in this release proceeding challenging the District Court’s conclusion that ‘executive privilege was not invoked,’ ‘forfeited any challenge’ to the conclusion that relief would not be required in any event because of the qualified nature of executive privilege, and ‘forfeited any challenge’ to the conclusion that apart from executive privilege, he was still obligated to appear before Congress and answer questions seeking information outside the scope of the asserted privilege,” he wrote.

The Chief Justice added that he saw “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”.

Navarro was charged with two counts of criminal contempt of Congress for what federal prosecutors argued was his abject defiance of the House select committee’s attempts to obtain evidence as part of its investigation into Mr Trump’s attempts to subvert the 2020 presidential election.

On 7 September last year, a jury found him guilty on both counts after fewer than four hours of deliberation after a two-day trial during which the ex-Trump aide’s defence team presented no witnesses of their own.

US District Judge Amit Mehta had previously rejected Navarro’s blanket assertions of executive privilege under the former president in his defence against testifying to the committee. Navarro claimed that the former president instructed him to assert executive privilege, but Mr Trump never communicated that to the January 6 committee or in federal court.

A three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit also rejected his arguments, but Navarro had hoped that the Supreme Court, packed with three of Mr Trump’s own appointees, would grant him a reprieve.

Instead, they rejected his plea to remain free, making him the first former Trump White House staffer to see the inside of a jail cell for any crime related to the 6 January 2021 attack on the Capitol.

Navarro will surrender for his custodial sentence at 2pm on Tuesday.

With additional reporting by Alex Woodward