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A ‘Saturday Night Massacre’ Veteran Offers Trump Some Advice

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tags: Watergate, Saturday Night Massacre, Mueller



William D. Ruckelshaus, a former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, was the acting F.B.I. director and deputy attorney general under President Richard Nixon.


... Elliot [Richardson] and I resigned after refusing to carry out President Nixon’s order to fire the special prosecutor. Cox was then dismissed by Robert Bork, who had quickly been designated acting attorney general.

The resulting public firestorm, which became known as the “Saturday Night Massacre,” marked the beginning of the end of the Nixon presidency. Congressional support eroded, the House Judiciary Committee began impeachment hearings and the Supreme Court ordered the release of White House tapes capturing the president and his aides plotting the cover-up. Nearly 10 months after that October night, Nixon resigned.

The events of recent weeks have eerily reminded me of those Watergate days. When accusations of Russian involvement in last year’s election first surfaced, I thought President Trump could quickly put them to rest by revealing all he knew and instructing his staff to do the same, just as President Nixon could have done with the Watergate burglary in 1972.

But President Trump hasn’t done that, even though he has consistently asserted his complete innocence. Why not lay it all out for the public to judge for itself? Are we headed for another long national nightmare? For the sake of the country, I hope not.

If Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, is left alone, he will conduct a thoughtful and fair investigation. He is universally and justifiably admired and should be supported in his work.

If the president fires him, as he is reportedly contemplating doing, the result might very well be the same as what President Nixon faced when he forced Elliot Richardson and me to resign for refusing to obey his order to fire Cox.

Mr. President, don’t worry whether you have the power to pardon yourself. But do consider the wisdom of firing the man charged by your own deputy attorney general with investigating Russian intervention into your election.

Read entire article at NYT


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