Fox News has reportedly pulled senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano off the air over statements he made claiming President Barack Obama asked British intelligence officials to wiretap Trump Tower in an effort to spy on Donald Trump.
Napolitano was curiously absent from Fox’s coverage of the Supreme Court confirmation hearing of Neil Gorsuch on Monday, with sources telling the LA Times that Napolitano is not expected to appear on the network any time in the near future. He has not appeared on Fox News since last Thursday.
Fox News did not immediately respond to Variety’s request for comment.
Napolitano claimed both in a column for FoxNews.com and on the air that an unnamed source had told him that Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) performed surveillance on Trump at Obama’s request, backing up controversial statements made by Trump himself. However, Fox News anchor Shepard Smith was forced to walk back Napolitano’s statements on Friday, stating “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, full stop.”
Trump was asked about his wiretapping claims at a press conference last week with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, where he cited Napolitano as proof his claim was true. “All we did was quote a certain very talented legal mind who was the one responsible for saying that on television,” Trump said. “I didn’t make an opinion on it. That was a statement made by a very talented lawyer on Fox. And so you shouldn’t be talking to me, you should be talking to Fox.”
Earlier on Monday, FBI Director James Comey confirmed during a House Intelligence Committee hearing that the FBI does not have any evidence to support Trump’s claim that he was the subject of surveillance by the Obama administration. Comey also confirmed that the FBI is investigating “the nature of any links” between the Russians meddling in the 2016 election and the Trump campaign, the first time he has publicly acknowledged such a probe.