Trump shows echoes of Nixon

Cape Breton Post - - Editorial - CANA­DIAN PRESS

Of all the ad­jec­tives avail­able to de­scribe a U.S. pres­i­dent’s be­hav­iour, there is one that stands alone as the most em­phat­i­cally damn­ing. “Nixo­nian.”

Stir­ring up the ghost of Amer­ica’s most no­to­ri­ously crooked com­man­der-in-chief is an ex­treme mea­sure, but “Nixo­nian” has been em­ployed fre­quently and loudly in the af­ter­math of last Tues­day’s sud­den and con­tro­ver­sial fir­ing of FBI di­rec­tor James Comey by U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

The di­rect com­par­i­son be­ing drawn be­tween pres­i­dents Trump and Nixon has to do with Mr. Nixon’s in­fa­mous “Satur­day Night Mas­sacre” in Oc­to­ber 1973, when he or­dered the fir­ing of spe­cial pros­e­cu­tor Archibald Cox, who had been ap­pointed to in­ves­ti­gate the bun­gled Water­gate bur­glary that would ul­ti­mately lead to Mr. Nixon’s down­fall.

Comey, of course, in his job as FBI di­rec­tor, was in charge of the bu­reau’s on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion of ties and pos­si­ble col­lu­sion be­tween of­fi­cials in the Trump pres­i­den­tial cam­paign and the Rus­sian govern­ment. His abrupt dis­missal comes close on the heels of Comey’s tes­ti­mony last week be­fore a Se­nate ju­di­ciary com­mit­tee, dur­ing which he con­firmed the FBI is con­tin­u­ing its probe into Rus­sian med­dling in the 2016 U.S. elec­tion.

On Wed­nes­day, re­ports by sev­eral U.S. news out­lets stated that, in the days be­fore his fir­ing, Comey met with U.S. Deputy At­tor­ney Gen­eral Rod Rosen­stein to re­quest ad­di­tional re­sources for the Rus­sian-in­flu­ence in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to Trump, the dis­missal of the FBI di­rec­tor was car­ried out on the rec­om­men­da­tion of Rosen­stein and U.S. At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions. Be­cause of his deep in­volve­ment in the Trump cam­paign, Ses­sions had pre­vi­ously re­cused him­self from mat­ters re­lated to the Rus­sia/elec­tion in­ves­ti­ga­tion, but still saw fit to voice sup­port for Comey’s ouster.

The White House’s jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for Comey’s fir­ing is as ridicu­lous and un­be­liev­able as its tim­ing is trou­bling and sus­pi­cious. By stat­ing that Comey’s fir­ing was pri­mar­ily mo­ti­vated by his un­fair treat­ment of Hil­lary Clin­ton dur­ing the FBI’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion of her pri­vate emails, Trump and his staff are ei­ther play­ing the Amer­i­can pub­lic for a bunch of fools or are so acutely fool­ish them­selves that they may have ac­tu­ally be­lieved, at least tem­po­rar­ily, they could get away with such a clum­sily trans­par­ent ruse.

The prob­lem, for Trump just as it was for Nixon, is that things are not at all likely to “calm down” af­ter a rash and ill-ad­vised ac­tion such as the fir­ing of an of­fi­cial whose in­ves­ti­ga­tion has the pres­i­dent among its sub­jects.

The way it ended for Nixon in the ’70s explains how his name earned its nox­ious ad­jec­ti­val form. And its ap­pli­ca­tion to this week’s ac­tions speaks vol­umes about the cur­rent pres­i­dent’s down­ward-spi­ralling predica­ment.

One might even say “Nixo­nian” trumps any neg­a­tive words that might have been con­sid­ered.

It’s as harsh as POTUS-prod­ding de­scrip­tives get, but in this case, it be­comes more ev­i­dent with each new rev­e­la­tion that it is be­ing fairly ap­plied.

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