Judge Andrew Napolitano dispensed some free legal advice during a Thursday taping of Fox and Friends — and President Donald Trump would be wise to consider this guidance.
The former New Jersey magistrate and Fox News senior judicial analyst told Trump to be wary regarding Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s recent disclosure that the president was not a “criminal target” of his investigation. This could simply be a ploy to give Trump “a false sense of security,” Napolitano warned.
Give no quarter
“Judge Nap” was referring to a Washington Post story from Tuesday which claims that Trump is a “subject” of [Mueller’s] investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential race, but not a “criminal target.” However, reporters from the Post explained the distinction:
Prosecutors view someone as a subject when that person has engaged in conduct that is under investigation but there is not sufficient evidence to bring charges.
In addition to the ongoing investigation, two people familiar with the special counsel’s probe revealed that Mueller is preparing a report about Trump’s actions while in office, as well as details regarding “potential obstruction of justice.” This latter admission may refer to when Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey under controversial circumstances.
Although proving that Trump obstructed justice comes with numerous legal hurdles and may be difficult to prove, the president shouldn’t be brimming with confidence merely because prosecutors are refusing to make any acute criminal accusations.
“As much as I want the president to be able to be president and not have this on his back,” Napolitano said. “I encourage him not to relax and not to rejoice. They are still pursuing things.”
The conversation regarding Trump’s legal standing reportedly occurred during special counsel negotiations with the executive counsel about a possible interview with the president. Trump has demonstrated a willingness to sit down with Mueller and, under oath, take part in recorded interviews. He communicated his desire to testify to the White House press pool in March:
— Fox News (@FoxNews) March 22, 2018