A notable absence from Fox News in its recent broadcasts is that of Judge Andrew Napolitano. According to reports, the network’s senior judicial analyst has been benched by Fox News after his claims that a British intelligence agency wiretapped Trump Tower for former President Barack Obama.
A regular face on Fox since 1998, Napolitano has been missing from the channel since Thursday but his absence from the network’s coverage of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation hearings at the Capitol Hill could be a cause of concern as he has previously been an important figure in such discussions.
Napolitano has been keeping a low profile on social media since he made the claims Thursday, leading to an escalation of tensions between British foreign surveillance agency, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), and the White House. Fox News, however, did not respond to questions by the Los Angeles Times about Napolitano’s status Monday. The New Jersey judge was also unavailable for comments.
The publication cited people familiar with the matter saying: “Napolitano is not expected to be on Fox News Channel any time in the near future.” A source from the network also confirmed to CNNMoney that Napolitano had been taken off the air.
President Donald Trump accused Obama of wiretapping him before the election for the first time on March 4. He faced a massive backlash for his unverified claims at the time but Napolitano, last week, said the GCHQ carried out the surveillance on Trump on Obama’s orders in 2016. In a column on FoxNews.com, he wrote, “By bypassing all American intelligence services, Obama would have had access to what he wanted with no Obama administration fingerprints.”
White House press secretary Sean Spicer went on to use Napolitano’s remarks to defend Trump’s wiretapping claims. He said during a press briefing last week, “Judge Andrew Napolitano made the following statement, quote, ‘Three intelligence sources have informed Fox News that President Obama went outside the chain of command.’”
While Napolitano, a graduate of Princeton University and the University of Notre Dame Law School, is being hailed by Trump supporters, Fox News’ decision to pull him from air can have a damaging effect on the 66-year-old former New Jersey Supreme Court judge’s reputation.
However, he was praised by President Trump during a press conference last Friday and called a “very talented legal mind.”