Media

Fox's Napolitano: Trump pleading the Fifth to Mueller would be 'catastrophic'

Fox News senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano on Monday said it would be "catastrophic politically" for President Trump to invoke his Fifth Amendment protection from self-incrimination in special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Napolitano made the statement while discussing the new stance of Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani on a potential Trump-Mueller interview.

Trump's legal team now says that Mueller would need to show that there was a legitimate basis for an investigation into Trump's campaign before they grant the special counsel an interview with the president.

"It is inconceivable that the prosecutor would show his cards to politicians before he has played the cards," Napolitano said on Fox Business. "The prosecutors and the police and the FBI have every right to keep that stuff to themselves until they indict or exonerate. As for Rudy, in my view, this is a very sophisticated way for him to say, 'The president's not sitting down with you.' "

But Napolitano added that Mueller could then subpoena the president and bring him before a grand jury.

Asked by Fox Business's Maria Bartiromo if Trump could then plead the Fifth, Napolitano said that action would be "prophylactic legally, but it would be catastrophic politically."

He added that it also would not look good for the president considering his history of deriding defendants who have invoked the Fifth Amendment.

Notably, the president said at a campaign rally in 2017, "The mob takes the Fifth. If you're innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?"

He was largely targeting former staffers for Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, who cited the Fifth Amendment during the investigation into her use of a private email server while she was secretary of State.

Napolitano's comments come after The New York Times reported on Friday that Giuliani has set new parameters for a potential interview between Mueller and Trump. The Times reported that it was becoming increasingly unlikely that the president's lawyers would let him sit with the special counsel for an interview.

"If they can come to us and show us the basis and that it's legitimate and that they have uncovered something, we can go from there and assess their objectivity," Giuliani told the newspaper.

Giuliani's statement follows one in early June where he said Trump wouldn't sit for an interview with Mueller unless he first saw documents pertaining to the FBI's use of an informant during the 2016 campaign.

In addition, Giuliani told the Times that he is pushing back against Mueller's attempts to interview White House chief of staff John Kelly.

Outbrain
View desktop version