Does Judge Andrew Napolitano exist merely to make Fox News hosts look stupid?
It’s starting to seem that way more and more as the senior judicial analyst appears on the network’s shows to explain President Trump’s legal peril to anchors who don’t want to hear it.
Last month, Napolitano had to repeatedly lay out to the hosts of Outnumbered why Michael Cohen’s plea deal should be taken seriously despite his history of lying. And just yesterday—with the more sympathetic Shepard Smith by his side—he explained how we now know that Trump “committed a felony.”
As host Steve Doocy comically mocked Cohen for accusing Trump of financing and directing his “dirty deeds,” Napolitano stopped him in his tracks when he declared that the judge in the case found that “the president ordered and paid for Michael Cohen to commit a crime,” adding, “That is very telling.”
“What crime?” Doocy asked incredulously.
Seemingly amazed that he even had to answer such a basic question at this point, Napolitano replied, “The intentional deception and failure to report campaign payments.”
“But Donald Trump has said that that was not a campaign violation because it wasn’t involving the campaign. It was a damage control payment,” Doocy said.
“Unfortunately the president wasn’t in the courtroom,” Napolitano said. “And the people who were, the federal prosecutors, who had a statement from David Pecker, the guy that owns the National Enquirer, said it was for the campaign. The prosecutor said it was for the campaign. Michael Cohen said it was for the campaign. The president wasn’t there, maybe he should have had lawyers there.”
He went on to explain that if a campaign makes “an honest mistake in failing to report,” they can “correct that” by paying a fine and fixing the report. “If you do this as a scheme to hide it, then it’s not a civil wrong, it’s a crime. That’s what the judge found yesterday.”
From there, the segment devolved even further into right-wing talking points as co-host Brian Kilmeade tried to equate Trump’s hush payments to the women with whom he allegedly had affairs to a hypothetical situation in which the Obama campaign would have paid the controversial Reverend Jeremiah Wright to stay quiet.
Then, when Doocy brought up the case of former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, Napolitano said, “John Edwards’ case actually hurts the president. Because John Edwards’ lawyers made a motion to dismiss the indictment saying it’s not a crime and the judge published an opinion saying why it’s a crime. Now, the jury didn’t believe the government and believed John Edwards.”
“But the fact of the matter is, any scheme to defraud the government by failing to report what must be reported is a crime,” he continued. “Unless it’s an honest mistake, in which case it’s not a scheme.”