Fox News Channel senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano ’72 has been indefinitely sidelined from the network after making unverified claims that former President Barack Obama requested British intelligence wiretap Trump Tower. Napolitano has not spoken on the channel since March 16 and has been notably absent from the network’s coverage of hearings involving Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch and FBI Director James Comey, according to the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times.
Napolitano has not yet responded to request for comment.
Napolitano’s statements were in response to an accusation President Donald Trump made on March 4 on Twitter, claiming that Obama had ordered a wiretap of Trump Tower in New York prior to Trump's electoral victory in November.
In a Fox News column published on March 16, Napolitano wrote that “sources have told me that the British foreign surveillance service, the Government Communications Headquarters, known as GCHQ, most likely provided Obama with transcripts of Trump’s calls.” He reiterated the claim while on the morning show Fox and Friends. The GCHQ stated that Napolitano’s allegations were “utterly ridiculous” and “should be ignored.”
FBI Director Comey said in a House intelligence committee hearing Monday that there was no evidence that Obama had wiretapped Trump. At the same hearing, Admiral Michael Rogers, director of the National Security Agency, said that the agency had not found evidence that the British had been involved in wiretapping Trump Tower.
Fox anchor Shepard Smith said on Friday that “Fox News cannot confirm Judge Napolitano’s commentary. Fox News knows of no evidence of any kind that the now-president of the United States was surveilled at any time, any way. Full stop.”
Richard Thaler ’73, managing partner of Lieutenant Island Partners, LLC and a former classmate of Napolitano’s, wrote in an email that “while Andy and I did not agree politically, we were and still are good friends. He was and is a genuine mensch with a warm heart and a terrific sense of humor.”
Thaler is a trustee of the Daily Princetonian.
Thaler made no effort in his email to defend Napolitano’s comments and expressed curiousness as to where he got his information and why he believed it.
According to the New York Times, it is not known whether Fox is planning to remove Napolitano temporarily or for a longer period of time.
While at the University, Napolitano concentrated in history, was a member of the Princeton Debate Panel, and served in ROTC, where he commanded Supreme Court Associate Justice Samuel Alito, Jr. '72. Napolitano was also president of the conservative group Concerned Alumni of Princeton, which Napolitano described as an organization designed to end the University’s “anti-traditional leftist urges.”