Peter Navarro asks Supreme Court to get him out of jail just 15 days into sentence

Peter Navarro, the jailed former trade adviser to Donald Trump, has called on US Supreme Court justice Neil Gorsuch to reconsider Chief Justice John Roberts’ decision to reject his plea to be allowed to remain out of prison while he appeals his contempt of Congress conviction.

Navarro, 74, surrendered to authorities on 19 March to begin a four-month sentence at the low-security FCI Miami prison in Florida after he was convicted on two counts of criminal contempt of Congress for refusing to provide testimony or documentary evidence when requested by the House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the US Capitol.

The bipartisan panel had wanted to hear from Navarro about the plot to prevent the certification of the 2020 election results at a joint session of Congress presided over by then-vice president Mike Pence, which took place on the day of the attack and was delayed by the rioters’ invasion of the legislative complex but ultimately not prevented.

Navarro had referred to the plan as “Green Bay Sweep” in his book In Trump Time (2021) but refused to comply with a subpoena to discuss it with the committee, subsequently arguing, unsuccessfully, that Mr Trump had asserted executive privilege over his testimony and evidence relating to the failed insurrection.

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

Prior to entering prison last month, Navarro delivered a brief press conference in a parking lot in which he attempted to portray himself as a martyr to Democrat-led persecution in grandiose terms and, like Mr Trump, baselessly bemoaned “the partisan weaponisation of our judicial system”.

He pledged to “walk proudly” into prison and told reporters: “I will gather strength from this.”

But after just 15 days behind bars, his attorneys Stan Brand and Stanley Woodward submitted a long-shot filing with the DC Circuit trying to get him out, asking: “We respectfully request your reconsideration of the Chief Justice’s denial.”

Supreme Court rules allow for parties whose emergency applications have been rejected by one justice to appeal to another, although they are seldom granted.

“The court’s rules technically permit renewing an application with a second justice,” legal analyst Steve Vladeck wrote on X in response to the filing.

“In reality, though, the court automatically refers such filings to the full court, and then denies them. This has a precisely 0.0 per cent chance of succeeding.”

Navarro had asked the Supreme Court to allow him to remain free while he appeals decisions by US district judge Amit Mehta and a three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, both of whom had previously rejected his blanket assertions of executive privilege on the grounds that Mr Trump never communicated any such assertion to the committee or in federal court.

In a brief opinion issued from his chambers on 18 March, Chief Justice 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 only following orders from the former president when he defied the subpoena in question.

“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,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote.

He 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”.