Fox News Judge Says Trump's Acquittal Is 'A Legal Assault On The Constitution' He Accomplished By 'Manipulating Senate Republicans'

Fox News senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano published a scathing rebuke of Donald Trump and Republicans, calling the president's acquittal "a legal assault on the Constitution."

Napolitano, a former New Jersey Superior Court judge, has been a prominent critic of Trump and his Republican supporters throughout the impeachment process. The legal expert, who identifies as a Libertarian, last week criticized GOP senators for blocking witnesses and additional evidence in the president's trial. Previously, he argued repeatedly that the House impeachment process was constitutionally sound, pushing back against defense arguments made by Trump and Republicans.

"If Trump really believes he did not commit any crimes and any impeachable offenses, why would he orchestrate blocking evidence? And who – having taken an oath to do 'impartial justice' – would close their eyes to the truth? How could such a marathon of speeches possibly be considered a trial?" Napolitano wrote in an editorial published on the Fox News website Thursday.

Donald Trump
President Donald Trump gestures after delivering the State of the Union address at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. on February 4 MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty

"Trump will luxuriate in his victory. But the personal victory for him is a legal assault on the Constitution," he argued. "The president has taken an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution. Instead, he has trashed it."

The former judge went on to write that the president had succeeded by "manipulating Senate Republicans to bar firsthand evidence and keep it from senatorial and public scrutiny, Trump and his Senate collaborators have insulated him and future presidents from the moral and constitutional truism that no president is above the law."

Trump became the third president in U.S. history to be impeached by the House of Representatives in December. The president was impeached for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, in a vote that fell nearly along party lines. Conservative Representative Justin Amash of Michigan, who was elected as a Republican but registered as independent last July, voted with Democrats to impeach the president.

Democrats opened the impeachment inquiry as a result of Trump's efforts to pressure Ukraine to announce investigations that he allegedly believed would be damaging to his political rivals. He directly asked the president of Ukraine to cooperate with his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to probe unfounded claims that former Vice President Joe Biden acted corruptly in Ukraine to benefit his son Hunter's business dealings, as well as into a debunked conspiracy theory that Democrats and Ukrainians, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 presidential election.

Multiple administration witnesses testified that there was a "quid pro quo" involved with the pressure campaign as well. Trump temporarily withheld nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine and a White House meeting for the country's president while he pushed the foreign government to announce the investigations against his political rivals.

Andrew Napolitano
Andrew Napolitano, senior judicial analyst for the Fox News, testifies during a Federal Spending Oversight And Emergency Management Subcommittee hearing on June 6, 2018 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty

But after the president's trial in the Senate, the president was acquitted on Wednesday by the Republican-controlled chamber of Congress. A two-thirds majority vote of 67 out of 100 senators is required to remove the president from office, which led most analysts to predict from the outset that the process would end without a conviction.

GOP Senator Mitt Romney of Utah was the only member of his party to break ranks and vote alongside Democrats. This also gave him the distinction of being the first senator in U.S. history to vote to remove a president of his own political party.

"The president's purpose was personal and political. Accordingly, the president is guilty of an appalling abuse of public trust," Romney said in a Senate floor speech on Wednesday, announcing his decision to vote to convict Trump on the charge of abuse of power.

"What he did was not perfect. No, it was a flagrant assault on our electoral rights, our national security and our fundamental values," he said. "Corrupting an election to keep oneself in office is perhaps the most abusive and destructive violation of one's oath of office that I can imagine."

Trump has insisted that he did "nothing wrong" and that his actions were "perfect." The president and his supporters have dismissed the entire impeachment process as a partisan "witch hunt." But following the the Wednesday vote, Trump tweeted out a video clip suggesting that he hopes to stay in office indefinitely, despite term limits.