CNN reporter claims Trump sent Bill Barr to ‘muzzle’ Fox’s Napolitano

A CNN reporter alleges in a soon-to-be-released book that Attorney General Bill Barr sought to “muzzle” Judge Andrew Napolitano at the behest of President Donald Trump, The Guardian reports — but Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec announced Saturday that Barr made no such efforts against the Fox News contributor.

According to The Guardian, CNN’s Brian Stelter claims in Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth, set for release Tuesday, that Barr urged Fox News co-founder Rupert Murdoch to silence Napolitano, a frequent critic of the president.

Judge Nap takes on Trump

Napolitano, a columnist and Fox News contributor who’s been with the network for decades, was said to have been on President Trump’s shortlist to be appointed to the Supreme Court, The Guardian noted. But when that didn’t pan out, Napolitano seemed to change his tune, and now often takes a stance against the president and his policies.

In one recent example, the former New Jersey judge called Trump’s choice to send federal law enforcement officers to Portland, Oregon amid violent protests “unconstitutional” and “just plain wrong.”

The Fox News contributor was also supportive of Democratic efforts to remove Trump from office. According to The Hill, he referred to the president’s impeachment acquittal in the Senate as “a personal victory” but “an assault on the Constitution.”

“Trump will luxuriate in his victory. But the personal victory for him is a legal assault on the Constitution,” he wrote in a February op-ed, according to The Hill. “The president has taken an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution. Instead, he has trashed it.”

“This is false”

Moments like these, Stelter claims, have left Trump outraged. After receiving a copy of the CNN reporter’s new book, The Guardian reported Saturday:

Citing an unnamed source, Stelter writes that Trump “was so incensed by the judge’s TV broadcasts that he had implored Barr to send Rupert a message in person…about ‘muzzling the judge.’ [Trump] wanted the nation’s top law enforcement official to convey just how atrocious Napolitano’s legal analysis had been.”

Of course, Stelter fails to name his sources or provide any proof of his claims, which have since been disputed by the Department of Justice (DOJ).

“This is false,” Kupec wrote in a tweet late Saturday, chastising Stelter for failing to reach out to the DOJ for comment “before publishing.”

A meeting with Murdoch

For what it’s worth, The Hill reported in October of last year that the attorney general had indeed met with Murdoch, although it was not known what topics they discussed. And it’s hard to believe a reporter from CNN really has the scoop on that.

For now, Stelter’s uncorroborated allegations are probably best received with a grain of salt.

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