Richard Nixon’s former attorney has said he sees “echoes of Watergate” in the conduct of the Trump administration.
John Dean, who gave evidence against President Nixon before the Senate Watergate Committee in 1973 after he was fired by the administration, described Donald Trump as “more Nixonian than Nixon” in his hatred towards the media.
In an interview with Democracy Now, Mr Dean also compared the Trump administration’s efforts to use intelligence agencies for political purposes with Mr Nixon’s attempts to use the CIA to push the FBI away from investigating the Watergate burglary.
Mr Dean said: “What I see and hear … are echoes of Watergate. We don’t have Watergate 2.0 yet, but what we have is something that is beginning to look like it could go there.”
Drawing parallels between attacks on the media made by Mr Nixon behind closed doors and Mr Trump’s more public approach to slamming news organisations, he continued: “I find it very startling and very troubling. It is more Nixonian than Nixon.
“And I say that for this reason. Nixon made those kind of comments, that we only know about because he had his secret taping system running and seemed to forget it was on just constantly when he was in the office. It would automatically go on […] He did these things behind closed doors.
“The big difference is, Trump is doing this right out and challenging the First Amendment, that is one of our most important because it involves freedom of the press and freedom of speech. And he’s taking that on head on […] It’s just ludicrous.”
The former attorney, who has been a longtime critic of Mr Trump, proceeded to say he did not believe Mr Trump would succeed in intimidating the press, saying: “It’s troublesome that he would try to sway the press by using the bully pulpit of his office to intimidate them.
“My hope is he does not. And I really don’t think, knowing the journalists I know, that he will. Nixon failed, and he had a deep reservoir of ill will to draw on when he got himself in real trouble. And I think Trump is creating the same problem for himself.”
But when asked whether Mr Trump could be impeached over his conduct, Mr Dean said that with a majority of Republicans in the House and Senate, this was an unlikely outcome.
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“It takes really a national change of attitude about this president before we’re going to have an impeachment,” he added.
“Right today, given the fact that the House and Senate are controlled by the Republicans, they’re not going to impeach their president.
“As long as he gives them what they want and signs into legislation or signs into law a lot of the things that they’ve had in their dreams for many years, they’re not going to give him any problem.”