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Why Jim Harbaugh Took a Shot at Trump’s Budget

There was a time when a college coach made news if he took a political stand—and not always welcome news. Think back to Joe Paterno at the 1988 Republican National Convention in New Orleans: "I'll be damned if I'll sit still while people who can't carry George Bush’s shoes ridicule him,” Paterno said. “After a lifetime of being around great competitors, I know a winner, and I know a leader.” The convention crowd ate it up, but back home in Pennsylvania the Democratic governor took a dimmer view. “If you’re Bear Bryant or Bobby Bowden or Bo Schembechler of course, for a long time the state had a lot of impact on your funding,” says John Bacon, the author of multiple books on the University of Michigan’s football program. “So you certainly did not want to get into state politics as a rule.”

It’s harder these days to keep track of all the legendary names—college and otherwise—mixing it up in the most contentious and unforgiving political arena in memory. Bobby Knight, the surly and argumentative former Indiana University basketball coach, was a favorite surrogate of Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign. Bowden and Lou Holtz, coaching icons themselves, effusively praised Trump throughout the campaign. But active coaches, too, have lost their inhibitions about throwing elbows in the political paint. Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski, who has tallied the most wins in Division I basketball history, trashed his home state’s controversial bathroom bill as “embarrassing.” He said this while leading the U.S. men’s national team in Rio. Ohio State University football head coach Urban Meyer appeared alongside Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, a frequent Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, in an ad highlighting financial investment accounts for Ohioans with disabilities.

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And then there’s Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh. Harbaugh, 53, whose political star power eclipses even some members of Congress, is one of the few coaches who has sat down one-on-one with President Barack Obama, dropped in for meetings with half of the Supreme Court and slipped in to a rally on campus where Obama was stumping for Hillary Clinton. Harbaugh has also said he likes Trump for not being “afraid to fight the establishment.” Last summer, he found himself in hot water for criticizing San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick for refusing to stand during the national anthem. He later apologized on Twitter.

On February 28, a couple of weeks before President Trump unveiled his budget, Harbaugh took to his favorite platform with a slightly surprising foray into policy and on an issue that would hardly be considered top of mind even for the wonkiest of Washington insiders: legal aid for the poor. He tweeted: “I hope reports that White House trying to defund Legal Services Corp aren't true. LSC is CRUCIAL to making justice system fair. #LSCmatters ” Obscure though the cause might have been, the tweet got some attention: 2,400 retweets and twice as many likes.

Harbaugh, it turns out, is a part of the


Napolitano told friends he was on Trump's Supreme Court shortlist

Judge Andrew Napolitano may be temporarily sidelined at Fox News, but he’s been telling friends and associates that he could be in for a big promotion — to the Supreme Court.

After meeting with President Trump twice during the transition, first in December and again in mid-January, the Newark, N.J.-born television personality told several people that Trump said he was on the list of judges from whom he was selecting a nominee for the high court.

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“He said, ‘Trump said I’m on the list,’” said a source who spoke with Napolitano shortly after one of his meetings with the then president-elect. “He’s been saying that since the transition.”

Friends warned Napolitano not to take the president too literally – or seriously. “He'll take your call and invite you to the Oval Office, but he just wants you to say nice things about him on TV,” the source says he told Napolitano at the time. But that didn’t sink the ambitious judge’s hopes.

Trump released a list of potential replacements for the late Justice Antonin Scalia before the election, vowing to select Scalia’s replacement from that list — and followed through, tapping Tenth Circuit judge Neil Gorsuch for the nomination in January. Napolitano’s name did not appear on any public list.

But the salt-and-pepper-haired Napolitano, 66, who served as a New Jersey Superior Court judge until 1995 and joined Fox News in 1998, was a sleeper candidate, he told his skeptical friends. He claims he’s submitted both academic and personal resumes to Trump aides, and that they’ve pored over the judge’s writings, including several popular non-fiction books.

People familiar with the president’s thinking dismissed the idea that Napolitano is being considered for a Supreme Court nomination. “The president already has a list of highly qualified contenders for future SCOTUS openings, and Judge Napolitano is not on it,” said a person close to the White House.

Since the Gorsuch nomination, Napolitano has continued to maintain that he is in the running for a seat, telling a colleague that Trump promised him the next Supreme Court seat “if I get another one.”

Neither Napolitano nor Fox News responded to requests for comment. White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders declined to comment, saying it was a personnel matter.

In his transition meetings with the president-elect at Trump Tower, the longtime Fox News personality said he discussed the Supreme Court vacancy. “He was interested in a broad range of ideas and attitudes about the type of person who would best fill Justice Scalia’s seat,”

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Napolitano told Fox Business’ Stuart Varney in an on-air readout of their conversation. At their second meeting, which he described as “awesome, to say the least,” Napolitano told Varney that he and the president-elect discussed “judicial attitudes, judicial temperament, ideology, and candidates for the court.”

Napolitano sparked controversy last week

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