Ever since special counsel Robert Mueller began investigating the President, Donald Trump has been adamant that there has been “no collusion, no obstruction,” and no other illegal or unethical activity on his part. Trump made sure to drive that point home to his Deplorable followers on Twitter nearly every day. And backing him up all the way on this was his State TV affiliate, Fox News.
But now the bottom appears to be falling out of Trump’s defense strategy. In recent weeks a few lonely voices on Fox News have displayed some measure of independence and honesty. They are still a minority, and they are often castigated by their own network colleagues, but they are there and they are beginning to be more outspoken.
Judge Andrew Napolitano is one of those expressing views that are decidedly un-Foxian. Last month Napolitano told Fox host Neil Cavuto that he agreed with the Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, that there is evidence in the public record of Trump engaging in both conspiracy with Russia and obstruction of justice. He previously said that Trump’s firing of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe was obstruction of justice. And now Napolitano is going even further with some hard and detailed facts:
“Mueller laid out at least a half-dozen crimes of obstruction committed by Trump — from asking former Deputy National Security Adviser K.T. McFarland to write an untruthful letter about the reason for Flynn’s chat with Kislyak, to asking Corey Lewandowski and then-former White House Counsel Don McGahn to fire Mueller and McGahn to lie about it, to firing Comey to impede the FBI’s investigations, to dangling a pardon in front of Michael Cohen to stay silent, to ordering his aides to hide and delete records.”
These remarks might not get much attention were they made by Rep. Schiff, or House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, or MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow. They would be be dismissed by right-wingers as partisan and political. But those criticisms cannot be credibly leveled against Napolitano who is a devoted conservative and a long-time fixture on Fox News. And he wasn’t done:
“The president’s job is to enforce federal law. If he had ordered its violation to save innocent life or preserve human freedom, he would have a moral defense. But ordering obstruction to save himself from the consequences of his own behavior is unlawful, defenseless and condemnable.”
That’s the sort of unambiguous statement of guilt (and from a judge no less) that you might expect from a partisan Democrat. But coming from a conservative legal expert on Fox News, it’s damn near conviction. It’s certainly justification for proceeding with impeachment hearings.
Napolitano also took Attorney General William Barr to task for wrongly defining obstruction of justice as only being applicable when it is successful or when there is an underlying crime committed by the obstructor. That’s nonsense and not rooted in the law. It is still obstruction if one attempts to interfere with the the judicial process and fails. If you try to rob a bank and don’t pull it off, you are going to jail. Likewise, it’s still obstruction if one attempts to interfere with a case that involves someone else. If you lie to the police about a crime you know you’re cousin committed, you are going to jail.
Barr’s absurd misinterpretation is a blatant attempt to cover for Trump and could be considered obstruction of justice itself. And it’s so egregiously conspicuous that even a Fox News legal analyst can see it and felt compelled to react. When this sort of blowback comes from the network that Trump regards as his own media division, it can’t be long before the damn breaks and others on Fox, along with Republicans who can no longer pretend that Trump isn’t an un-American charlatan, conclude that it’s time to put country before party – or before the naked emperor routine that Trump is trying to pull off.