Former Trump Official Must Begin Prison Sentence, Supreme Court Rules

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Peter Navarro, a former adviser to then-President Donald Trump, cannot remain free and must begin his prison sentence even as he appeals his contempt of Congress conviction, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled late Monday.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons had scheduled Navarro to report by 2 p.m. Tuesday in Miami unless the nation’s highest court intervened, USA Today reported. He was sentenced to four months behind bars.

Chief Justice John Roberts said that he found no grounds to oppose an appeals court ruling denying Navarro’s request to remain free, emphasizing that this decision is separate from a ruling on the appeal itself.

Navarro was convicted in federal court in September after he refused to provide testimony and documents to the Nancy Pelosi-selected January 6 Committee as it ostensibly investigated the riot at the U.S. Capitol Building in 2021. Republicans have since released evidence indicating that the committee buried exculpatory evidence on Trump and either destroyed or blocked access to reams of data.

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Navarro, a former trade adviser, has argued that he couldn’t cooperate with the House inquiry because Trump had asserted executive privilege to protect their communications from disclosure. However, U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta, an Obama appointee, determined that there was no evidence to support Navarro’s claim that Trump had invoked executive privilege.

Last week, a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that Navarro had forfeited his opportunity to assert an executive privilege argument and is unlikely to succeed in his appeal, USA Today added.

Navarro contended that he should be allowed to remain free while appealing, citing reasons such as his unlikely flight risk and the absence of any threat to public safety. Additionally, he says that his appeal raises significant issues, such as the definition of a “proper” invocation of executive privilege, which could potentially overturn his conviction.

USA Today adds:

The Justice Department said the Supreme Court didn’t have to consider Navarro’s executive privilege argument because he didn’t comply with the committee’s requests for personal communications that would not have been protected even if executive privilege had been invoked. And even if executive privilege existed, the department continued, the district court said the committee’s demonstrated need for the information was more important.

The Jan. 6 committee sought to interview Navarro due to his account in his 2021 book “In Trump Time,” wherein he detailed a plan to delay the certification of President Joe Biden’s election. Navarro referred to the scheme as the “Green Bay Sweep” and characterized it as the “last, best chance to snatch a stolen election from the Democrats’ jaws of deceit.”

According to the committee, Navarro later said in an interview that Trump was “on board with the strategy.”

“Another Trump aide, political strategist Steve Bannon, also refused to cooperate with the committee and was convicted of contempt of Congress,” USA Today reported, adding: “Like Navarro, Bannon was sentenced to four months behind bars. But U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols, who was appointed by Trump, allowed Bannon to remain free while he appeals his conviction.”

Also Monday, the nation’s highest court tossed an appeal by a former New Mexico state official barred from office after he was involved in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol Building.

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Former Otero County commissioner Couy Griffin, a cowboy pastor whose claim to fame was endorsing former President Donald Trump with several horseback caravans, is a former Otero County commissioner and the only elected official barred from office under the “insurrection” provision of the 14th Amendment, the Associated Press reported.

During a 2022 trial in a state district court, Griffin became the first individual in over a century to be disqualified from office under a provision of the 14th Amendment aimed at preventing former Confederates from holding government positions after the Civil War.

Despite the Supreme Court’s recent ruling that states cannot prevent Trump or other federal office candidates from appearing on the ballot, the justices clarified that distinct rules apply to state and local candidates, the AP report noted.

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