President Donald Trump is very mad that a Fox News analyst called his attempts to obstruct special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation “immoral,” “criminal,” “defenseless,” and “condemnable.” So the president is using an approach straight out of his playbook: smearing the critic on Twitter and claiming that the person secretly begged him for stuff and is retaliating for not getting it.
After the release of the Mueller report — which documented numerous episodes where Trump overtly attempted to stymie the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election — Judge Andrew Napolitano, the senior judicial analyst for Fox News, condemned the president’s behavior.
“If [Trump] had ordered his aides to violate federal law to save a human life or to preserve human freedom, he would at least have a moral defense to his behavior,” Napolitano said this week. “But ordering them to break federal law to save him from the consequences of his own behavior that is immoral, that is criminal, that is defenseless, and that is condemnable.”
Late Saturday night, Trump lashed out at his former ally, using his title “Judge” in scare quotes and suggesting — without evidence — that Napolitano was bitter about not getting a Supreme Court seat and a pardon for a friend.
….Ever since Andrew came to my office to ask that I appoint him to the U.S. Supreme Court, and I said NO, he has been very hostile! Also asked for pardon for his friend. A good “pal” of low ratings Shepard Smith.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 28, 2019
But Trump’s own previous tweets would seem to contradict his suggestion of a rift. Trump nominated his last Supreme Court justice in July 2018. But as recently as January, Trump was continuing to approvingly quote-tweet Napolitano as the analyst often defended him.
FBI top lawyer confirms “unusual steps.” They relied on the Clinton Campaign’s Fake & Unverified “Dossier,” which is illegal. “That has corrupted them. That has enabled them to gather evidence by UNCONSTITUTIONAL MEANS, and that’s what they did to the President.” Judge Napolitano
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 22, 2019
Moreover, this is not the first time Trump has smeared anyone who criticizes him by claiming that they had secretly begged him for stuff.
After then-Senate Foreign Relations Chair Bob Corker (R-TN) criticized Trump’s foreign policy in 2017, Trump tweeted, “Senator Bob Corker ‘begged’ me to endorse him for re-election in Tennessee.”
When Fox News host Dana Perino said negative things about Trump’s 2015 campaign announcement, he tweeted, “Why did @DanaPerino beg me for a tweet (endorsement) when her book was launched?”
Later that year, when his then-primary opponent (and now Energy Secretary) Rick Perry called him a “cancer on conservativism” with a “barking carnival act,” Trump tweeted that Perry had been “in my office last cycle playing nice and begging for my support and money. Hypocrite!”
After Brett Bozell penned a January 2016 National Review article questioning Trump’s conservative bona fides, Trump tweeted that the right-wing activist was a lightweight who “came to my office begging for money like a dog.”
And in October 2016, Trump lashed out at then-Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), tweeting, “The very foul mouthed Sen. John McCain begged for my support during his primary (I gave, he won), then dropped me over locker room remarks!”
Trump’s attack on Napolitano is the latest example of his growing frustration with the typically supporting cable network.
Were @FoxNews weekend anchors, @ArthelNeville and @LelandVittert, trained by CNN prior to their ratings collapse? In any event, that’s where they should be working, along with their lowest rated anchor, Shepard Smith!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 17, 2019
Vanity Fair reported this week that new Fox CEO Lachlan Murdoch may “nudge the network away from its close marriage to Trump.”