Amidst the barrage of support for President Donald Trump on Fox News’ airwaves comes an extraordinary takedown of the president from the small, still functioning truth-telling cortex of the Fox News brain. This bit by senior legal analyst Andrew Napolitano is stashed away online, in a digital video segment called “Judge Napolitano’s Chambers,” but in it the Fox News regular lays out a pretty compelling and straightforward case for why Trump not only acted criminally but immorally in obstructing justice on multiple occasions revealed in the Mueller report.
A written piece accompanies the video, and it’s fine, but we’ve all read a lot recently about everything that’s wrong with Trump and the obviousness of why. When said out loud though, given the platform and the intended audience, Napolitano’s quickie sermon is somehow more powerful and even more welcome as a reminder that certain principles and laws and facts remain true even if Fox News’ primetime lineup refuses to acknowledge them.
“[W]hen the president asked his former [deputy national security] Adviser K.T. McFarland to write an untruthful letter to the file knowing the government would subpoena it—that’s obstruction of justice,” Napolitano says. “When the president asked Corey Lewandowski, his former campaign manager, to get Mueller fired—that’s obstruction of justice. When the president asked his then White House counsel to get Mueller fired and then lie about—that’s obstruction of justice. When he asked Don McGahn to go back to the special counsel and change his testimony—that’s obstruction of justice. When he dangled a pardon in front of Michael Cohen in order to keep Cohen from testifying against him—that’s obstruction of justice.”
“So why not charge him?” he asks. “Because the attorney general of the United States would have blocked such a charge. Because the attorney general of the United States is of the view that obstruction of justice can only occur if you’re interfering with a criminal investigation of yourself. But that’s not what the obstruction statute says. And that’s not what law enforcement believes and that’s not what prosecutors do. Prosecutors prosecute people who interfere with government functions. And that’s what the president did by obstruction.”
“If [Trump] had ordered his aides to violate federal law to save a human life or to preserve human freedom, he would at least have a moral defense to his behavior,” Napolitano concludes. “But ordering them to break federal law to save him from the consequences of his own behavior that is immoral, that is criminal, that is defenseless, and that is condemnable.”
That’s really quite something.