Fox News Judge Cites 'Newly Acquired Evidence' In Trump-Ukraine Scandal as Reason House Democrats Should 'Reopen the Impeachment' Inquiry

Fox News senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano has suggested that Democrats should move to "reopen the impeachment" inquiry against President Donald Trump, despite already voting last month to approve two articles of impeachment, because "newly acquired evidence" has come to light.

Napolitano, who was a New Jersey Superior Court judge, made the remarks Monday morning during an interview with the Fox News show America's Newsroom. He appeared on the segment to provide analysis of the ongoing impeachment debate in Congress, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, has thus far declined to send the impeachment articles to the Republican-controlled Senate for trial.

Pelosi has been withholding the articles as Democrats raise concerns about the impartiality of a Trump trial and say witnesses should appear. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, has dismissed the case against the president and said he plans to coordinate with the White House counsel throughout the process.

Napolitano argued that Pelosi is not constitutionally allowed to mandate the process that the Senate implements for the trial, as some Republicans have accused her of doing. But the ex-judge then suggested a different legal path Democrats should follow.

LISTEN: @Judgenap comments on Senator Lindsey Graham's proposal to move ahead with the impeachment trial without the articles of impeachment from the House #nine2noon

— America's Newsroom (@AmericaNewsroom) January 6, 2020

"If I were a Democrat in the House, I would be moving to reopen the impeachment on the basis of newly acquired evidence, which are these new emails of people getting instructions directly from the president to hold up on the sending of the [military] funds" to Ukraine, Napolitano explained.

"That would justify holding on to the articles of impeachment, because there's new evidence, perhaps new articles," he said.

Last month, Trump became the third president in U.S. history to be impeached by the House, in a vote that passed largely along partisan lines. Under the Constitution, the president would next face trial in the Senate when the Speaker of the House transfers the articles of impeachment to the upper chamber of Congress. But as Napolitano noted, new evidence that appears relevant to the case has been revealed in the weeks since the House vote.

On January 2, the national security website Just Security published details from unredacted administration emails that shed new light on Trump's efforts to withhold congressionally approved military aid to Ukraine. They appeared to show that the president directly ordered that the aid be held up.

In one August 30 email, Michael Duffey, associate director of national security programs at the Office of Management and Budget, told Elaine McCusker, the Pentagon's acting comptroller, that there was "clear direction" from Trump to hold the funds. The emails also revealed significant tensions between the White House and the Pentagon over the release of the aid.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, called the emails a "devastating blow" to the president's case after the report's release. Schumer had already been urging GOP Senate leaders to call for additional witnesses—who had been barred by the president from testifying during the House inquiry—in the pending Senate trial. He also wants the Senate to subpoena administration documents that had been blocked.

While McConnell has dismissed Schumer's suggestions, two GOP senators, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine, have voiced concern about the majority leader's position. They have also expressed support for calling additional witnesses, which Schumer hopes would include former national security adviser John Bolton. The ex-Trump administration official has said he has a lot to say about Trump's actions toward Ukraine, which led to the president's impeachment.

Bolton's name came up repeatedly throughout the House's impeachment inquiry, and he reportedly called the pressure campaign against Ukraine a "drug deal." But he did not testify before the House because of Trump's order barring current and former administration officials from doing so.

Zelenskiy and Trump
President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy during a meeting in New York on September 25, on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly meeting. SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty

On Monday, however, he released a statement saying he would testify if asked by the Senate to do so. "Since my testimony is once again at issue, I have had to resolve the serious competing issues as best I could, based on careful consideration and study," he said. "I have concluded that, if the Senate issues a subpoena for my testimony, I am prepared to testify."

Although Fox News is generally viewed as supportive of Republicans and Trump, Napolitano has been one of several prominent voices on the network that has criticized the president, particularly throughout the impeachment saga. In December, the former judge wrote an editorial arguing that there was "undisputed evidence" that Trump had abused his power through his actions toward Ukraine.

Two articles of impeachment against Trump were passed by the House, one for his alleged "abuse of power" and the other for alleged "obstruction of Congress." The president repeatedly pressured Ukraine to announce investigations that were perceived to be damaging to his political opponents. Trump specifically requested that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy look into dubious claims that Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden acted corruptly in regards to Ukraine, as well as a debunked conspiracy theory that Ukrainians and Democrats, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 presidential election.

Multiple administration officials testified before the House that the administration had temporarily withheld nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine and held up a White House meeting with Zelenskiy to pressure him to announce the investigations. Democrats argued that this is a clear abuse of power, while Trump and his supporters say that the entire investigation is a partisan "witch hunt."