Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

There are less than 72 hours left in this Mid-Year Campaign and our independent journalism needs your help today.
If you value our work, please support Common Dreams. This is our hour of need.

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

President Donald Trump said Friday that he "learned a lot" from former President Richard Nixon regarding Trump's handling of investigations into his 2016 campaign. (Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images and CQ Roll Call via Getty Images)

Trump Admits He 'Learned A Lot' From Disgraced President Nixon's Saturday Night Massacre

Trump's comments suggest "he learned from Nixon's mistakes how not to get caught," said Kate Brannen of Just Security.

Julia Conley

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."

"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. 

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. 

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. 

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Just a few days left in our crucial Mid-Year Campaign and we might not make it without your help.
Who funds our independent journalism? Readers like you who believe in our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. No corporate advertisers. No billionaire founder. Our non-partisan, nonprofit media model has only one source of revenue: The people who read and value this work and our mission. That's it.
And the model is simple: If everyone just gives whatever amount they can afford and think is reasonable—$3, $9, $29, or more—we can continue. If not enough do, we go dark.

All the small gifts add up to something otherwise impossible. Please join us today. Donate to Common Dreams. This is crunch time. We need you now.

Markey, Bowman Join Climate Coalition in Urging SCOTUS Expansion

"We cannot sit idly by," said Markey, "as extremists on the Supreme Court eviscerate the authorities that the government has had for decades to combat climate change and reduce pollution."

Brett Wilkins ·

Ocasio-Cortez Says US 'Witnessing a Judicial Coup in Process'

"It is our duty to check the Court's gross overreach of power in violating people's inalienable rights and seizing for itself the powers of Congress and the president."

Brett Wilkins ·

Critics Say Biden Drilling Bonanza 'Won't Lower Gas Prices' But 'Will Worsen Climate Crisis'

"President Biden's massive public lands giveaway in the face of utter climate catastrophe is just the latest sign that his climate commitments are mere rhetoric," said one campaigner.

Kenny Stancil ·

Grave Warnings as Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Case That Threatens 'Future of Voting Rights'

"Buckle up," implores one prominent legal scholar. "An extreme decision here could fundamentally alter the balance of power in setting election rules in the states and provide a path for great threats to elections."

Brett Wilkins ·

Biden Urged to Take Emergency Action After 'Disastrous' Climate Ruling by Supreme Court

"The catastrophic impact of this decision cannot be understated," said Rep. Pramila Jayapal, but "we cannot accept defeat."

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo