When the Robert Mueller-led special counsel investigation submitted a sentencing report against former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, so too did the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of New York, including in their report allegations of campaign finance fraud related to “hush money” payments to women who intended to sell their stories of alleged affairs with then-businessman Donald Trump.
Many in the liberal media — and even some at Fox News, including senior legal analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano — took Cohen’s guilty plea toward those charges as evidence that President Trump was guilty as well, an assumption with which another Fox contributor disagreed.
Andrew McCarthy, National Review editor and former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, explained to Fox Business Network host Lou Dobbs on Wednesday just how wrong Napolitano was in assuming that Cohen’s guilty plea was evidence of criminal wrongdoing by Trump.
Judge Napolitano and others have it wrong
“What they are saying here is there is a conspiratorial relationship in violation of a criminal law between Cohen and Trump,” said McCarthy. “And what I am saying is, it remains to be seen whether this was actually a crime or not, even if it happened the way Cohen did.”
“I was quite surprised just a few minutes ago watching Judge Napolitano on the program right before yours say a federal judge had found, had ruled, that this was a campaign finance violation,” he said.
“That’s not what happened at all,” McCarthy continued.
“What happened was, the Southern District charged what is very dubiously alleged to be an in-kind campaign finance donation, and Cohen elected — I think for strategic reasons — to plead guilty to that charge without challenging the underlying question, which is a profound legal question, about whether it was actually an in-kind contribution or not. The judge didn’t rule on that,” McCarthy explained.
Guilty plea doesn’t establish actual crime
“When a person pleads guilty in federal court, that doesn’t mean the judge has blessed every single, or has ruled in the government’s favor, on every single conceivable objection that somebody might make to that,” said McCarthy.
“What happened here is that the judge accepted the guilty plea, but that is not binding on President Trump, so were he ever to be charged, he would have the ability and opportunity to argue that this was not an in-kind campaign contribution,” he continued.
McCarthy added, “Cohen’s concession on this point is not is not binding on the president in any way, and the liberal media is going to say again and again — and a number of other commentators are saying — that there is a crime here and Trump is implicated in it, and what I’m saying is, the fact that Cohen chose to plead guilty to this allegation does not establish for all purposes that there is a crime.”
Watch the full commentary below:
McCarthy is absolutely right to call out those in the media, including Napolitano, for jumping to the wrong conclusions. And this isn’t the first time that McCarthy has criticized Napolitano’s legal analysis — in a 2005 column, he accused the former state judge-turned-Fox News personality of being “out of his league” when it came to analyzing federal law.
In regard to the campaign finance violations, Cohen’s guilty plea doesn’t even establish that a crime was committed, much less that Trump is similarly guilty, and it would be nice if legal “experts” — who purportedly know all of the ins and outs of the law — would admit as much and not just fall in line with the liberal narrative.