President Donald Trump reflected on his approach to the Russia investigation during a phone interview with the hosts of “Fox and Friends,” saying he “learned a lot” from studying history and the administration of former President Richard Nixon.
“I learned a lot from Richard Nixon. Don’t fire people,” he said. “I learned a lot. I study history. And the firing of everybody — I should’ve in one way, but I’m glad I didn’t, because look at the way it turned out. They’re all a bunch of crooks and they got caught.”
“Of course there was one difference, one big difference,” Trump continued. “Number one, he may have been guilty. And number two, he had tapes all over the place. I wasn’t guilty. I did nothing wrong, and there are no tapes. But I wish there were tapes in my case.”
The problem with Trump’s reflection: He has fired many people during his tenure in the White House, including:
- James Comey, the former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
- Andrew McCabe, the former Deputy FBI Director, who was fired after Trump pressured Jeff Sessions
- Jeff Sessions, his former Attorney General
- Sally Yates, the acting Attorney General (one of the earliest firings of the Trump administration)
- John Bolton, his former national security adviser
- H.R. McMaster, his former national security adviser
- Mira Ricardel, the former deputy national security adviser
- John Kelly, his former chief of staff
- Reince Priebus, his former chief of staff
- Rex Tillerson, his former Secretary of State
- Steve Bannon, his former chief strategist
Nixon’s reputation, already dealt heavy hits from the Watergate scandal, fell even more in public confidence following the Saturday Night Massacre, the series of events that took place after he ordered Attorney General Elliot Richardson to fire Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox. After Richardson refused and resigned, Nixon demanded Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus to fire Cox. Ruckelshaus also refused, prompting Nixon to order Solicitor General Robert Bork to fire Cox. Bork complied with the order, but the incident sparked the impeachment process against Nixon 10 days later. Facing an almost certain impeachment and conviction, Nixon resigned.
The president’s remarks come a day after the House Intelligence Committee released new transcripts and material from closed-door interviews conducted during the Russia probe, including interviews with Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Corey Lewandowski, Hope Hicks, Brad Parscale and Carter Page.
Special counsel Robert Mueller, who was appointed to lead the investigation into Russia’s subversion of the 2016 presidential election, did not establish that there was coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia, though he outlined ten instances where the president attempted to obstruct his investigation.