The ranking congressman on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence put out a statement today comparing President Donald J. Trump to President Richard M. Nixon, in the light of The New York Times report claiming that Trump attempted to fire Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III in June.
“The reports that the president not only considered firing Special Counsel Mueller, but went so far as to order it, demonstrate the Nixonian lengths this president is prepared to go to protect himself,” said Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D.-Calif.), the most senior Democrat on the House’s intel committee.
Nixon fired Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox Jr. Oct. 20, 1973, but he had to go through the chain of command. Before he could get Cox fired, he had to fire Attorney General Elliot L. Richardson, who had refused to fire Cox.
Richardson’s immediate successor, Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus also refused to fire Cox, so Nixon fired him. Solicitor General Robert H. Bork, then the acting attorney general agreed to fire Cox for Nixon. When the new broke the next Sunday morning, it was dubbed “The Saturday Night Massacre.”
Trump has repeatedly denied that he had any intention of firing Mueller, including today at the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland: “Fake news, folks. Fake news,–typical New York Times.”
In his May 22 segment on NBC News’ “Meet the Press,” Schiff said he was personally convinced by the evidence that Trump’s presidential campaign colluded the Russian government.
“I can tell you that the case is more than that. And I can’t go into the particulars, but there is more than circumstantial evidence now,” he said. “I will say that there is evidence that is not circumstantial and is very much worthy of investigation.”
Mueller was appointed to his post May 17.
In the months since Schiff’s claims and Mueller’s appointment to investigate the Russian-Trump collusion narrative, no evidence has come to light.
“Congress must make clear that any effort to remove the special counsel or impede his work would touch off a constitutional crisis, which would imperil this presidency and do grave danger to our nation,” Schiff said.
“Yet, instead of protecting Mueller’s investigation from undue interference, many Republicans in Congress have stepped up their spurious attacks against the Department of Justice, the FBI and the special counsel,” he said. “It is time to put country and the rule of law before party.”