Donald Trump raised eyebrows again on Thursday in a new interview, saying that he has the “absolute right” to do whatever he wants with the United States Justice Department.
In an impromptu interview with the New York Times, Trump said, “I have the absolute right to do what I want to do with the Justice Department.”
NBC News presidential historian Michael Beschloss immediately shut down the president, saying they go beyond anything even Richard Nixon would have said.
— Sean Colarossi (@SeanColarossi) December 29, 2017
MSNBC’s Joy Reid asked Beschloss if Trump’s comments on the Justice Department echo what Nixon would have said during the Watergate scandal, and the historian responded:
It goes way beyond Nixon. Nixon never would have said something like that as president, nor would any other modern president. And that’s why I think what he said was ominous, bordering on shocking. Because you have this president making this claim that he can do whatever he wants with the Justice Department. No other modern president would agree with that. He goes on to say he has the right to open or end an investigation. Well, guess what investigation he’s eluding to? And the other thing he says is that for purposes of – this is almost his quote – for purposes of hopefully that I’m going to be treated well, I’ve stayed uninvolved, referring to the Mueller investigation. What he’s telling us, let’s listen to this very carefully, is there is a serious chance that if he feels he’s not being treated fairly, he will not be uninvolved and he may try to shut down this investigation. This is a real warning.
While Trump said to the New York Times that he believes Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation is treating him fairly, his subsequent comments suggest that if at any point he feels he isn’t being treated properly, he will not hesitate to fire Mueller and derail the investigation.
If we’ve learned anything in the era of Trump, it’s that it doesn’t take much to get under this president’s ultra-thin skin.
If Mueller’s probe finds no conclusive evidence of crimes or wrongdoing by Trump or his campaign, the president will likely consider it fair. On the other hand, if the investigation implicates Trump and his team, which seems more probable by the day, Trump will likely wage war against Mueller and move to shut down the investigation.
As Beschloss concluded in his interview on Thursday: “I think that would be a case in which there really would be a constitutional crisis. … I think that if he tries to do that, that will be something that, speaking about Nixon, will make the Saturday night massacre of October 20, 1973, look like peanuts.”
Sean Colarossi currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was an organizing fellow for both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns. He also worked with Planned Parenthood as an Affordable Care Act Outreach Organizer in 2014, helping northeast Ohio residents obtain health insurance coverage.