Fox News judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano questioned President Donald Trump‘s basic fitness for office in a lengthy and trenchant take-down wherein he also suggested the 45th president had violated his oath “to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.”
Napolitano’s criticism came by way of a segment from the subscription-only Fox Nation news service on Friday. Footage of that segment started garnering attention on Monday morning.
fox nation is not just for over the top pro-trump takes, it is also for dissent too real to air on fox news pic.twitter.com/DOpnTE6P5D
— John Whitehouse (@existentialfish) November 11, 2019
Napolitano began by cataloguing a series of scandals that allegedly called into question Trump’s constitutional fidelity:
Here’s what else is on my radar this week: The president and the Constitution–again. In nearly three years in office, President Donald Trump has spent federal dollars not authorized by Congress; separated families and incarcerated children at the Texas-Mexico border in defiance of a federal court order; pulled 1,000 American troops out of Syria ignoring a commitment to allies and facilitated war against civilians there; and sent 2,000 American troops to Saudi Arabia without a congressional authorization or declaration of war.
“He has also criminally obstructed a Department of Justice investigation of himself,” Napolitano continued, “but escaped prosecution because of the intercession of an attorney general more loyal to him than to the Constitution. The Constitution!”
The libertarian-tinged former judge also gave a history lesson, with a heavy-handed suggestion that the president violated his oath of office:
At the outset of his presidency Trump took the presidential oath of office promising that he would “Faithfully execute” his obligation to preserve protect and defend the Constitution. James Madison, the scrivener of the Constitution, insisted that the word “Faithfully” be in the presidential oath and that the oath itself be in the Constitution to remind presidents to enforce laws and comply with constitutional Provisions whether they agree with them or not and to immunize the oath from congressional alteration. Recently, Trump referred to a clause in the Constitution as “phony” and he thereby implied that he need not abide it nor enforce it, notwithstanding his oath.
Napolitano then segued into a discussion about the latest Emoluments Clause-related Trump contretemps involving the roundly-condemned and eventually-abandoned effort to host the 46th Group of Seven (G7) summit at Trump’s family-owned Trump National Doral resort in Miami, Florida. White House Budget Director and acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney initially made the announcement in mid-October but the administration quickly backtracked after an unmitigated uproar from the press. Amidst said uproar, Trump himself termed the Emoluments Clause “phony.”
“After a weekend of torrential criticism after Mulvaney’s announcement, the president himself announced that he had changed his mind and said he would not host the G7 summit meeting at the Miami area resort,” Napolitano noted. “But in the process of making that announcement, he characterized the Emoluments Clause as quote ‘phony.’ Who knows what he meant by ‘phony.’ The clause is in the Constitution and it means what it says. Yet, whatever Trump meant by ‘phony,’ it constituted–at the least–a disparagement of the Constitution he is sworn to uphold. And–at the worst–a threat to ignore other clauses that he can disparage.'”
“This is most unusual and potentially dangerous in a president. And it raises the question: Can the president of the United States lawfully enforce only the clauses of the Constitution with which he agrees and ignores those with which he disagrees? In a word: No,” he added.
Then Napolitano gave a brief overview of basic constitutional theory.
“The doctrine of the separation of powers–which is the backbone of the Constitution–states that Congress writes the laws, the president enforces them, and the courts interpret them,” he said. “It also offers that the governmental roles of the three branches cannot be intermingled or traded without undermining the protections for personal liberty that the separation of powers was intended to secure. If the president could pick and choose which laws to enforce and which parts of the Constitution to ignore, he effectively would be deciding what the laws mean–that’s a Judicial function–and which laws have vitality and which do not–that’s a congressional function.”
The Fox News personality ended his segment by questioning Trump’s character and fitness:
President Trump has become known for forceful and often tasteless banter. He publicly calls people crude names, uses foul language, and send sends dog whistles of lawless behavior to many of his supporters. All of that is a question of free speech, personal taste and political risk. But threats to ignore parts of the Constitution are not matters of speech, taste or risk. They reveal character traits but question the president’s fitness for office.
[image via screengrab/Fox Nation]