President Donald Trump’s phone call to his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodomyr Zelensky, "manifested criminal and impeachable behavior," Judge Andrew Napolitano, the legal analyst for Fox News, argued in a new op-ed.
“The president need not have committed a crime in order to be impeached, but he needs to have engaged in behavior that threatens the constitutional stability of the United States or the rule of law as we have come to know it,” Napolitano wrote on Fox News' website.
Napolitano then reviewed how a CIA agent “whistleblower” reported the July 25 conversation between Trump and Zelensky as potentially criminal and how the White House’s summary of the conversation revealed that “Trump asked Zelensky for dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden, who at this writing is Trump's likely Democratic opponent in the 2020 presidential election.”
Napolitano also discussed how the president had withheld $391 million in aid to Ukraine while he was making his request of Zelensky, accused the whistleblower of treason and suggested that both the whistleblower and those who have helped him or her were spies who ought to be hanged.
“The president’s allusions to violence are palpably dangerous. They will give cover to crazies who crave violence, as other intemperate words of his have done,” Napolitano wrote. “His words have already produced offers of ‘bounties’ in return for outing and finding the whistleblower.”
“Trump also suggested that his impeachment would produce a second American Civil War," the Fox News analyst added. "This language is a dog whistle to the deranged.”
Napolitano continued by reviewing how Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014 and 2015 and annexed Crimea, saying that by withholding the military aid despite the unanimous advice of his advisors.
"Instead, in the Zelensky phone call, he told the Ukrainian president that he needed a personal 'favor,'" Napolitano wrote of Trump. "The clear unmistakable inference is that the $391 million in aid would be held up until the favor was delivered. The favor he sought was dirt on Biden.
The Fox News analyst concluded his argument by claiming that Trump had broken the law by soliciting aid for his political campaign from a foreign national or foreign government, attempting to bribe Zelensky and intimidating witnesses.
Napolitano has deviated from the editorial position taken by most Fox News pundits, who have overwhelmingly defended the president during the Ukraine scandal. Fox News host Tucker Carlson attacked Napolitano last week for saying that Trump’s own admissions of his interactions with Ukraine were criminal by calling the judge’s views biased and making the false claim that that he himself was “not partisan.” News anchor Shepard Smith retorted Carlson the following day, saying that “attacking our colleague who is here to offer legal assessments on our air, in our work home, is repugnant.”
In an interview with Salon last year, Napolitano said that he was willing to criticize Trump despite the two having a close friendship.
“I have not hesitated to write — if you look at my column from two weeks ago — that much of the division in the country is caused by the choice of his words — by him and his demeanor," Napolitano said at the time. "But my friendship persists. I mean, you have to ask him why he still calls me.”