“The Nixon Tapes
On July 16, 1973, another former aide to the President, Alexander Butterfield, testified before the Senate Committee that there was an oval office recording system, that it was installed and operated by the Secret Service, and that Nixon probably had it installed to record things for posterity, for the Nixon Library. (A few days later, Nixon ordered that the taping system be turned off). The shocking revelation set off a chain reaction in which samples of these tapes were sought by both the Senate Committee and by Independent prosecutor Archibald Cox. Nixon, however, refused to turn over the tapes, again claiming executive privilege. The Senate Committee and Cox then issued subpoenas for the White House tapes.
The “Saturday Night Massacre
On October 19, 1973, Nixon, looking toward a solution to the tape dispute, offered what later came to known as the Stennis Compromise. U.S. Senator John C. Stennis (D-MS) would independently review the tapes and summarize them for the special prosecutor’s office. Cox refused the compromise. The next night, a Saturday, Nixon worked to have Cox removed. He contacted Attorney General Elliot Richardson and ordered him to fire Cox. Richardson refused and resigned in protest instead. Nixon then ordered Deputy Attorney General Ruckelshaus to fire Cox; he also refused and resigned in protest. Nixon then contacted the Solicitor General, Robert Bork, and ordered him, as acting head of the Justice Department in the wake of the previous resignations, to fire Cox. Bork reluctantly complied. The firing of Special Prosecutor Cox, and the flurry of high-profile Justice Department resignations over the weekend caused the press to dub this event, the “Saturday Night Massacre.
Congress was infuriated about the Saturday Night Massacre. Numerous resolutions to impeach him were introduced in the House. Nixon, feeling the pressure, agreed to release some of the tapes to District Judge Sirica. A few days later at a nationally televised press conference, Nixon also announced that he was instructing Acting Attorney General Bork to appoint a new Special Prosecutor for the Watergate matter. On November 1, The Justice Department appointed Leon Jaworski its new special prosecutor.”
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Of note: In this particular case, both Trump and Hillary supporters had reason to be furious with Comey, which unlike the embattled Nixon, who was at the end of his presidency with mounting evidence, Trump was faced with a stubborn high commissioner of crimes, who thought he was a law unto himself, like the predecessor J. Edgar Hoover. Comey wasn’t. No doubt Comey lost the confidence of FBI itself. /CJ
TRUMP FIRES FBI DIRECTOR JAMES COMEY
“President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey this evening in a surprise move. Various politicians and the media have openly referred to the act as “Nixonian” and “another Saturday Night Massacre.”
I have previously stated how the Saturday Day Massacre has been misrepresented. I also do not agree with Jeff Toobin on CNN tonight that the decision was clearly due to the fact that Comey’s investigation was getting “too close” to President Trump. I do not see how one can reach that conclusion after months of criticism over Comey’s past conduct, including widespread anger from Democrats over his public statements on Hillary Clinton.
I agree that the timing is concerning and legitimately questioned. However, the Administration may also have waited for the Deputy Attorney General to be confirmed to allow a career prosecutor to review the matter and to concur with the decision. Democrats denounced Comey over his actions regarding the Clinton Administration. The matter was given to the Deputy Attorney General who was just confirmed recently.
President Trump took efforts in his letter state that Comey assured him that he was not under investigation. He stated that “While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgement of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the bureau.”
The White House released a memorandum from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, a respected career prosecutor. He found that Comey’s prior conduct did “substantial damage” to the FBI’s “reputation and credibility.” He noted that the FBI Director is never empowered to supplant federal prosecutors and assume command of the Justice Department” and that his conduct was “a textbook example of what federal prosecutors and agents are taught not to do.”
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