Andrew Napolitano believes the Mueller report cleared Donald Trump of collusion allegations, but the judge and Fox News contributor doesn’t think the president is out of the woods yet.
In an op-ed released Thursday by Fox News, Napolitano broke down the Mueller report and said he does not agree with Attorney General William Barr on whether the president is guilty of obstruction of justice.
Napolitano then gave several examples of obstruction from the Mueller report, though some of the points he brings up have been contested on accuracy. For instance, he brings up the president requesting that Don McGahn fire Robert Mueller in the middle of his investigation, only to change his mind later.
The president himself has denied this ever happened.
Another example brought up by Napolitano from the Mueller report is the president allegedly offering a pardon to his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, if he agreed not to testify against him. Cohen has been sentenced to years in prison for lying under oath, and his honesty recently came into question again when audio recordings were released of him disputing things he had previously said under oath.
Source: Fox News
Napolitano went on to say that he believes Mueller wrote his report with no definitive conclusion on obstruction to avoid Barr blocking an indictment.
“Barr’s view requires that the obstructer has done his obstructing in order to impede the investigation or prosecution of a crime that the obstructer himself has committed,” said Napolitano. “Thus, in this narrow view, because Trump did not commit the crime of conspiracy with the Russians, it was legally impossible for Trump to have obstructed the FBI investigation of that crime.”
To back up his point, the judge used a rather strange case as an example.
“Famously, Martha Stewart was convicted of obstruction of an investigation into her alleged insider trading, even though the insider trading charges against her had been dismissed. And a federal appeals court recently upheld the obstruction conviction of a defendant who suborned perjury in order to impede the prosecution of the sister of a childhood friend,” wrote Napolitano.
Napolitano believes Barr’s view of obstruction of justice is wrong. The judge even called the president’s behavior during the Mueller investigation “unlawful, defenseless and condemnable.”
“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,” said the judge. “But ordering obstruction to save himself from the consequences of his own behavior is unlawful, defenseless and condemnable.
Though he believes Trump to be guilty of obstruction, Napolitano said he’s not sure what route Democrats can take next.
“The dilemma for House Democrats now is whether to utilize Mueller’s evidence of obstruction for impeachment. They know from history that impeachment only succeeds if there is a broad, national, bipartisan consensus behind it, no matter the weight of the evidence or presence of sophisticated legal theories,” wrote the judge. He added that holding a public hearing would likely end up hurting the party too much politically.
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