Remember these dates: October 20, 1973, and May 9, 2017. They’re two dates that most likely will, indelibly, place Watergate and Trumpgate side-by-side in American history books.
It was on that Saturday evening in 1973 that President Nixon, under investigation in connection with the break-in at Democratic headquarters in Washington 16 months earlier, fired Archibald Cox, the special prosecutor heading the probe.
That firing, along with the resulting resignations of Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy A.G. William Ruckelshaus, became known as the “Saturday Night Massacre.” For more than 43 years, it has stood alone as a symbol of presidential abuse of power.
Now comes the firing, by another embattled president, of the Director of the FBI, James Comey.
In announcing the firing, President Trump criticized Comey’s disclosures, days before the 2016 election, regarding the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s emails. At that time, however — and on several occasions since — Trump praised Comey highly for making those same disclosures.
Was Trump’s justification for firing Comey sincere? Or was it an Alternative Fact, obscuring a more sinister motive: to thwart Comey’s investigation of possible Trump ties to Russia’s interference in last year’s election campaign?
Nixon’s firing backfired. Will Trump’s do the same?