Suggesting he needed lessons during his presidency on how to avoid being held accountable for possible misdeeds, President Donald Trump told "Fox and Friends" on Friday that he had "learned a lot from Richard Nixon," the only U.S. president to resign from the office amid an impeachment effort.
During a wide-ranging phone conversation with the morning show hosts, Trump said the lesson he learned from Nixon was "Don't fire people" and suggested a main problem for Nixon was that "he had tapes all over the place."
TRUMP: "I learned a lot from Richard Nixon -- don't fire people. I learned a lot. I study history ... of course there was one big difference: Number one he may have been guilty and number two he had tapes all over the place." pic.twitter.com/wgzKCumavL
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 8, 2020
"The firing of everybody," Trump said in reference to Nixon's 1973 "Saturday Night Massacre," in which the president fired the special prosecutor investigating the Watergate scandal and accepting the resignations of his attorney general and deputy attorney general. "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."
The comments suggested Trump learned "how not to get caught," tweeted Just Security editor Kate Brannen.
Trump saying he learned from Nixon's mistakes how not to get caught. https://t.co/Nn92RPCvL4
— Kate Brannen (@K8brannen) May 8, 2020
In fact, Trump has fired several high-profile officials during his term. His ouster of FBI Director James Comey in May 2017 drew comparisons to the Saturday Night Massacre, as Comey was leading the investigation into Trump's 2016 campaign and its communications with Russia.
The president also demanded former Attorney General Jeff Sessions' resignation in November 2018 after complaining repeatedly that Sessions had recused himself from the Russia probe.
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On Friday, Trump again attacked Sessions over the recusal, saying instead of "being a man" and denouncing the investigation as "a hoax," the former Alabama senator had allowed it to move forward.
Had Trump's current attorney general, William Barr, held the position from the start, the president suggested, the investigation would have never have begun.
Barr drew harsh criticism Thursday after the Department of Justice dropped its case against former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn over lies he told the FBI—which Flynn pleaded guilty to twice. The dismissal of the case sparked accusations that Barr is representing the interests of Trump, not those of the American public.
Nixon "had tapes all over the place. I wasn't guilty. I did nothing wrong, and there are no tapes," said Trump on Friday, suggesting that even if he was guilty in the Russia case or the Ukraine case which led to his impeachment, there is insufficient evidence to convict him.
While saying he learned not to fire officials, Trump added that he "did a very good thing" by dismissing Comey months after taking office.
On Twitter, former Office of Government Ethics director Walter Shaub wrote that in fact, Nixon may have been able to learn something from Trump's administration in order to avoid being held accountable.
"Nixon only wished for the corrupt senators Trump has in his pocket," Shaub wrote.
While the decision by 10 Republican senators in 1974 to support Nixon's impeachment led to the president's resignation, Republican lawmakers who criticized Trump during the 2016 election have almost unanimously supported the president. By contrast, only one Republican, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), broke with his party in February to vote in favor of removing Trump from office.