The political world is in full outrage mode over Tuesday’s Trump administration firing of FBI director James Comey. Also out is former acting Attorney General Sally Yates. Also connected to the situation is the firing in February of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
Whether the outrage is warranted will have to wait until the dust settles. What I find intriguing is the comparisons to the Watergate scandal of the Richard Nixon years, particularly the so-called “Saturday night massacre” – more on that below. I heard one pundit say that the Comey event is much worse and that Watergate was a “third-rate burglary.”
Whatever investigations may ensue regarding the Trump administration and its possible links to Russian meddling in the 2016 election … that issue is far from over.
But Watergate was a much, much, much worse scandal at the time of the massacre than this one.
Here is a rundown:
• There were arrests of the Watergate burglars. No arrests in Comeygate.
• There were indictments and guilty pleas in Watergate. No indictments or pleas in Comeygate.
• Four administration officials either resigned or were fired — and this was before the massare. FBI Director L. Patrick Gray and Nixon aides John Ehrlichman, H.R. Haldeman resigned, while White House counsel John Dean was fired. Not as high a body count in Comeygate.
• Nixon Vice president Spiro Agnew also resigned, but in fairness, he did so because of corruption as governor of Maryland that had nothing to do with Watergate. Current VP Mike Pence is still on the job.
• A special prosecutor had been hired and nationally televised hearings had been held in Watergate. Neither has happened with Comeygate, although many are calling for the prosecutor.
• President Nixon refused to turn over evidence – tape recordings – requested by a Senate committee and the special counsel. No such official requests in Comeygate.
• Then, on Oct. 20, 1973, Nixon ordered his Justice Department to fire special counsel Archibald Cox. AG Elliot Richardson and his deputy, William Ruckelshaus, quit instead, so solicitor general Robert Bork carried out the order in the "Saturday night massacre."
• Much more happened in Watergate, of course. Four more indictments, impeachment hearings and Nixon’s resignation in August 1974.
But comparing the current, emphasis on current, Comeygate to Watergate at the time of the massacre … is fake news.
Aside: It should be noted the Flynn also was fired by the Obama administration in 2014. Has a federal employee ever been fired by consecutive administrations? Please advise. My contact info is below.