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Judge Andrew Napolitano’s lonely, one-man war against Trump (VF)

16 June 2019


Vanity Fair title: Judge Andrew Napolitano’s lonely, one-man war against Trump

VF subtitle: The Fox News contributor is a rare voice of sanity at the pro-Trump network. Is anyone listening?

Publication date: 7 June 2019

“Occasionally, when the time is right and fewer people are watching, Fox News tosses a few Donald Trump critics into the mix. They generally receive airtime in the middle of the day—where the more moderate hosts Shep Smith and Bret Baier hold court—before the party line is reestablished by the Trump liege men of primetime (Laura Ingraham, Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity). And then there is Judge Andrew Napolitano, the Libertarian Party voter and legal commentator, who seems to be disappearing from Fox News altogether as he’s grown more and more critical of the Trump administration and its treatment of the Mueller report.

Fox News hasn’t dispatched with Napolitano altogether, of course—one presumes he has some kind of contract with the network—and Napolitano still makes more regular appearances on Fox Business. (Network insiders tell The Wrap that he is still a prominent figure inside Fox Corp. headquarters.) But for the most part, Napolitano’s diatribes against Trump appear to have been confined to his digital-only web series “Judge Napolitano’s Chambers,” where the former New Jersey Superior Court judge expresses opinions that are not often heard on the cable network: that Trump likely obstructed justice during Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian collusion, for instance, or that Attorney General William Barr is now covering for the president by saying the Mueller report exonerated him. (As if to underscore the apostasy of these positions, “Judge Napolitano’s Chambers” is typically filmed outside 1211 Avenue of the Americas, practically in the street.)

On Thursday, Napolitano went further, criticizing Mueller for letting Trump off the hook. “We know that presidential obstruction of justice is an impeachable offense because both President Richard Nixon and President Bill Clinton—each of whom instructed aides to lie to FBI agents and falsify evidence—were charged with it,” he wrote for Fox News’s website. Mueller, he argued, shirked his own mandate by citing a 2000 DOJ memo that argued that indicting a sitting president would prevent him from carrying out his constitutional duties. That opinion, Napolitano writes, “is just one of three that the DOJ has commissioned in the modern era. Of the three, two say the president ought not to be charged while in office, and one says that he may be charged. None says he cannot be charged.”

Napolitano points out that federal prosecutors previously dealt with the issue by threatening to prosecute Clinton the day after he left office, and laments that by kicking the impeachment can to the angst-ridden House Democrats and making it their problem, Mueller has made it harder for justice to be served. “Trump’s legal woes are behind him,“ He said. “Impeachment is a political process that can only be successfully undertaken with broad public sentiment behind it. I doubt there is such sentiment today.”

Trump, for his part, probably won’t care about Judge Nap’s opinion, having written him off ages ago as “very dumb” after a Fox News segment featuring Napolitano and Alan Dershowitz. (Trump, naturally, claims that Napolitano only became “hostile” toward his administration after Trump turned down his request to be appointed to the Supreme Court.) It’s not clear whether Fox News viewers will care either, depending on the number who manage to stumble across Napolitano’s digital-only musings. In the meantime, Fox can claim, at the very least, that it is not entirely antagonistic to countervailing opinions. They feature Democrats in town halls! They’ve got the Judge! If any viewers actually hear his commentary, anyway.”



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