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Does President Trump's dismissal of F.B.I. Director James Comey echo Watergate?

Postdoctoral Fellow in Politics and International Studies Dr Ben Margulies explores the similarities between President Trump's dismissal of James Comey, director of the F.B.I., and Richard Nixon's orders to fire independant prosecutor Archibald Cox in 1973.

"First, let me explain a word that’s been bouncing around the coverage – “Nixonian.” Richard Nixon (also a Republican) fired the special prosecutor investigating Watergate, Archibald Cox, in October 1973. He had to fire the attorney general and his deputy, who refused to carry out this order. The incident, known as “The Saturday Night Massacre,” severely dented public trust in Nixon, who resigned in disgrace the following August".

"Will that happen with Trump? There are two key differences:

1. In 1973, Democrats controlled Congress;

2. In 1973, Americans and their media were less polarized, so most Americans were able to agree that Nixon had acted inporperly".

"Today, many Trump partisans will say he was right to fire the FBI director, and never read media that contradict that stance".

"Trump’s biggest immediate problem is that the Senate is going to keep investigating him, and key Republicans there seem to reject Trump’s action. His overall popularity will probably remain where it is, in the 40s".

Kim Ingram

Assistant Press Officer

Tel: 024765 75601