Did you hear that odd sound off in the distance earlier this afternoon? That was the sound of Fox News viewers heads exploding after hearing the network’s senior judicial analyst, Judge Andrew Napolitano, explain to them that today’s events — including the sentencing of Trump attorney Michale Cohen and the non-prosecution agreement by AMI, the parent company of The National Enquirer — clearly demonstrate that the president of the United States committed a felony. KABOOM!
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Judge Napolitano’s detailed explanation of the implications of today’s judicial activities for President Trump contradicts just about everything anyone on the network (except for the very few Fox News hosts who still maintain a semblance of journalistic integrity) has ever said about the president’s complicity in the crimes of which he’s been accused.
Napolitano interpreted the day’s developments simply and directly:
“We’ve learned that federal prosecutors here in New York City, not Bob Mueller and his team in Washington, D.C., career prosecutors here in New York City, have evidence that the president of the United States committed a felony by ordering and paying Michael Cohen to break the law,” Napolitano said. “How do we know that? They told that to a federal judge.”
The judicial analyst went on to explain the significance of the actions.
“Under the rules, they can’t tell that to a federal judge unless they actually have that hardcore evidence,” he continued. “Under the rules, they can’t tell that to a federal judge unless they intend to do something with that evidence.”
Now that’s an enticing prospect for the majority of the country, but one that may strike fear into the hearts of dedicated viewers of the right-wing’s favorite cable news outlet and send them scrambling to the internet to find a conspiracy theory that better fits their distorted worldview.
Judge Napolitano characterized the non-prosecution agreement between federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York and The Enquirer‘s corporate parent as the evidence that “ties a bow on all of this,” saying that the information in the agreement “connects the dots between the payments to the two women who claim they had intimate relationships with the president, and the line running through all of that is the president himself.”
Fox News host Shepard Smith had to ask the legal analyst one more time to make sure that he had heard and understood what the judge was saying correctly.
“Prosecutors have told us through these filings that they have evidence that the president committed a felony?” Smith asked Napolitano.
“The felony is paying Michael Cohen to commit a felony,” Napolitano replied. “It’s pretty basic.”
While hearing what amounts to heresy in Fox News circles may have shocked the network’s most dedicated viewers, they’ll likely only have to wait a few hours before a Trump toady such as Sean Hannity comes on-air to present some “alternative facts” about the significance of today’s events.
Unless, that is, Hannity is still too busy deleting his tweets concerning Michael Cohen to bother coming in to work tonight.
You can watch Judge Napolitano tell the grim truth to Fox News’ Shepard Smith in the video clip below.
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Original reporting by Matt Wilstein at The Daily Beast.