Judge Andrew Napolitano returned to Fox News Channel this morning, nine days after the network benched him when President Donald Trump cited the Fox News talking head as his source of claims that then-President Barack Obama used British intelligence to wiretap him.
“I stand by my statement on surveillance,” Napolitano told Bill Hemmer.
Napolitano was there to talk about a Fox News report that the FBI allegedly wired a staffer of former Illinois Congressman Aaron Schock, who has been charged with fraud and corruption.
But first, Hemmer asked Napolitano about that Obama/Brit intel wiretap claim he first made on Fox & Friends. Napolitano said that was his story and he was sticking to it.
“And the American public needs to know more about this rather than less because,” he said, pivoting hard, “of a lot of the government’s surveillance authorities will expire in the fall and there will be a great debate about how much authority we want the government to have to surveil us.”
“We’ll see how the story plays out,” Hemmer said, noncommittally.
“I think a lot more is going to come,” Napolitano enthused.
Consider yourself warned.
His return raises the question as to why FNC benched Napolitano in the first place.
Throw your mind back to the joint news conference Trump had with Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel on a Friday in mid-March. Trump was grilled by a German reporter about whether he regretted claiming Obama had wiretapped him, and if he now thought it was a mistake to have said Brit intelligence was involved.
Trump’s reply: “We said nothing. All we did was quote a certain very talented legal mind, who was the one responsible for saying that on television.”
That would be Napolitano.
“That was a statement made by a very talented lawyer on Fox,” Trump reiterated, “and so you shouldn’t be talking to me, you should be talking to Fox.”
Fox News reacted immediately, though not, maybe, as Trump had expected:
“Fox News cannot confirm Judge Napolitano’s commentary; Fox News knows of no evidence of any kind that the now President of the United States was surveilled at any time in any way. Full stop,” Shepard Smith said on the network’s air moments after Trump gave his don’t-look-at-me response to the German reporter.
A spokesperson for British Prime Minister Theresa May had already called the claims “ridiculous” saying “they should be ignored and we’ve received assurances that these allegations will not be repeated” by the White House, which may explain why Trump pointed the finger at Fox.