Comparisons Drawn Between Firing Of FBI Chief And Watergate’s ‘Saturday Night Massacre’

The dramatic news on Tuesday that President Trump had fired FBI Director James Comey prompted some observers to recall the Watergate scandal of the 1970s.

The comparison is justified, according to Vox. The website called Comey’s dismissal “a historic moment” similar to President Nixon’s actions. In October 1973, special prosecutor Archibald Cox sent a subpoena to the White House, calling on Nixon to release tapes of White House conversations. The president refused to comply and ordered Attorney General Elliot Richardson to fire Cox. Richardson, as well as Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus, resigned rather than fire the prosecutor. Nixon finally got Solicitor General Robert Bork to let Cox go.

Richard Painter, who was President George W. Bush’s ethics lawyer, tweeted: “Nixon had to go through three AGs to fire the man investigating Watergate. POTUS should not be allowed to fire the man investigating him.” Democratic Sen. Edward Markey of Massachusetts described Trump’s action as “disturbingly reminiscent of the ‘Saturday night massacre’ during the Watergate scandal and the national turmoil that it caused.”

Democrats are rejecting Trump’s claim that he fired Comey because of the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s emails. The president’s real motive was to sidetrack the bureau’s probe of Russian interference in last year’s election, according to many Democrats. “No more excuses. We need an independent special prosecutor to investigate the Trump administration’s ties to Russia,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., tweeted. Another Democratic senator, Brian Schatz of Hawaii, wrote: “The arguments against establishing a special prosecutor were weak in the first place. They have now evaporated.”

The Nixon administration’s cover-up of the burglary at the Watergate Hotel led to impeachment proceedings. Nixon resigned when it became clear that his opponents had enough votes to remove him from office. Some Democrats, including Rep. Maxine Waters of California, have called for impeaching Trump because of his conflicts of interest and Russian connections. The FBI, as well as the House and Senate intelligence committees, are investigating allegations that the Trump campaign colluded with Russian operatives to defeat Clinton in the 2016 race.

Source: Vox
Photo: Flickr/ FBI

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