Fox News 'takes Judge Napolitano off air' amid furore over claims GCHQ spied on Donald Trump

Chris Graham
Andrew Napolitano claimed GCHQ spied on Trump for Obama - AP2011

Fox News is reportedly keeping Judge Andrew Napolitano off the air indefinitely after his controversial claims that GCHQ spied on Donald Trump at the request of Barack Obama.

Mr Napolitano, who has not been on the air since Thursday, is not expected to be on the news network any time in the near future, sources told the LA Times

The former judge was conspicuously absent on Monday as a host of other legal experts discussed the testimony of FBI Director James Comey to the House Intelligence Committee and the first confirmation hearing of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch

The LA Times  report was later confirmed by CNN and Associated Press. Fox News and Mr Napolitano have not yet commented. 

In a statement read on the Fox News programme “MediaBuzz” on Sunday, Mr Napolitano stood by his remarks. He said he “reported what the sources told me, reported it accurately and I do believe the substance of what they told me.”

The judge was thrust into the spotlight last week when Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, cited his allegation that the British intelligence agency had wiretapped Trump Tower before the election. 

GCHQ furiously denied the claim, calling it "utterly ridiculous", and no evidence has been provided to support the allegation. 

The 66-year-old is a former New Jersey Superior Court judge who became a media commentator, often appearing on Fox and Friends, the O'Reilly Factor, Fox Business Network and the Kelly File. 

Addressing the allegations on Friday, the president called Mr Napolitano "very talented legal mind" as he fuelled the diplomatic row with Britain.

Defending his White House for quoting the Fox News analyst, he said: "We said nothing. All we did was quote a certain very talented legal mind who was the one responsible for saying that on television.

"You shouldn't be talking to me, you should be talking to Fox."

Mr Trump had kicked off the wiretapping row on March 4 when he tweeted: "Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my "wires tapped" in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!"

Ten days later, Mr  Napolitano said on Fox News: "Three intelligence sources have informed Fox News that President Obama went outside the chain of command. He didn't use the NSA, he didn't use the CIA, he didn't use the FBI and he didn't use the Department of Justice.

"He used GCHQ. What is that? It's the initials for the British intelligence-finding agency. So, simply by having two people saying to them president needs transcripts of conversations involving candidate Trump's conversations, involving president-elect Trump, he's able to get it and there's no American fingerprints on this. Putting the published accounts and common-sense together, this leads to a lot."

Fox News backed away from the allegation on Friday when anchor Shepard Smith said in a statement: "Judge Andrew Napolitano commented on the morning show Fox and Friends that he has sources who say British intelligence . . . was involved in surveillance at Trump Tower. 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, in any way, full stop."

Trump wiretapping timeline

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