NEW YORK â€” Fox News Channel has pulled legal analyst Andrew Napolitano from the air after disavowing his on-air claim that British intelligence officials had helped former President Barack Obama spy on Donald Trump.
A person with knowledge of the situation who spoke on condition of anonymity because it was a personnel matter said Napolitano has been benched and won’t be appearing on the air in the near future. Fox had no immediate comment Monday.
Napolitano’s report last week on “Fox & Friends,” saying he had three intelligence sources who said Obama went “outside the chain of command” to watch Trump, provoked an international incident. Britain dismissed the report as “nonsense” after White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer quoted it in a briefing, part of the administration’s continued defence of Trump’s unproven contention that Obama had wiretapped him at Trump Tower during the 2016 presidential campaign.
FBI Director James Comey, testifying before Congress on Monday, became the latest official to state that no evidence has been found to support Trump’s charge.
The president, when asked about the incident, said that “all we did was quote a certain very talented legal mind who was the one responsible for saying that on television. I didn’t make an opinion on it. You shouldn’t be talking to me. You should be talking to Fox.”
Fox’s Shepard Smith, on the air Friday afternoon, quickly stepped the network away from Napolitano’s claim.
“Fox News knows of no evidence of any kind that the now-president of the United States was surveilled at any time, in any way,” Smith said.
Napolitano is a senior judicial analyst who has worked at Fox News Channel since 1998, and frequently comments on the Fox Business Network. He was a New Jersey Superior Court judge from 1987 to 1995.
Napolitano’s removal from the air was first reported in the Los Angeles Times.
David Bauder, The Associated Press