Fox News judicial analyst shoots down hosts suggestion Trump should 'investigate' his political enemies
As House Democrats gear up to continue investigating President Donald Trump's ties to Russia and pass along all their interview transcripts to special counsel Robert Mueller, Trump's defenders on Fox News are furious.
On "Fox & Friends" Thursday, co-anchor Brian Kilmeade asked straight-up why Trump can't just retaliate and investigate House Democrats right back — seeming to bemuse his colleague, judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano.
"Why not investigate Adam Schiff? Why not investigate Maxine Waters?" said Kilmeade. "How did they become rich?"
"Well, I don't know the answer to that—" began Napolitano.
"Why not investigate them? It could be no reason," Kilmeade pressed him. "Does the president have an attorney? Why doesn't the president just run a private investigation onto Adam Schiff?"
"Well, the president, if he's going to use the power of the government to do anything, has to do it through the DOJ, and there has to be evidence of some criminal behavior," said Napolitano.
But more importantly, Napolitano is right: the president can't just order the White House counsel or the DOJ to open an investigation into people he doesn't like or is mad at — that is the stuff of a banana republic. In general, a congressional investigation is not a criminal investigation — it is done to find information in the public interest, and only results in criminal charges insofar as Congress shares information with prosecutors working for the president's DOJ. The flip side to this is, because the executive branch actually has the power to put people on trial and lock them up, our laws and norms prevent the president from personally directing criminal investigations against his enemies.
That is exactly what former President Richard Nixon did in the Watergate scandal. Indeed, a large part of why Trump is in this mess in the first place is because he is accused of corruptly influencing the DOJ, demanding "loyalty" from FBI Director James Comey as his agency investigated the Trump campaign's ties to Russia, then firing him to try to end it. If there was even a hint of Trump directing an "investigation" of his enemies, his presidency would be thrown into even more chaos and legal jeopardy.
Trump would do well to listen to Napolitano. He is facing enough problems as it is.