President Trump on Friday suggested that he may possess taped recordings of conversations he had with former FBI director James B. Comey in the early months of his presidency — and that Comey should be wary of leaking information on the FBI's investigation into Russian interference in the election and whether Trump associates had any role in it.
There have already been comparisons made between Trump's decision to fire Comey and President Richard Nixon's 1973 decision to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox, who was investigating the Watergate break-in. When The Fix sat down with The Washington Post's Bob Woodward earlier this week, the journalist who covered the Watergate scandal with fellow reporter Carl Bernstein and won The Post a Pulitzer Prize urged caution in making Watergate comparisons. The key difference, he said, was the overwhelming amount of evidence that prosecutors had uncovered before Cox was fired.
But now it appears Trump himself is getting in on the comparison. In the video above, Woodward explains why Nixon's secret taping at the White House was so explosive and why the investigation into Russian interference in the election should be done deliberately and carefully.
“In the Trump case, there's a lot of suspicion — genuine, well-founded suspicion,” Woodward said. “But no John Dean testifying … no comparable evidence trail where there'd be suggestions of a secret taping system or a source of absolutely foolproof evidence.”
Dean was Nixon's White House counsel, and his testimony before the Senate Watergate Committee helped lead Nixon to resign – and he decided to weigh in on Twitter on Friday, saying Trump is the one who should be worried about tapes.
Nixon's taping system provided that foolproof evidence of the president's involvement in the scandal to investigators in 1973. The existence of the tapes was revealed by one of Nixon's aides, Alexander Butterfield. In the video below, Woodward asks Butterfield about his decision to reveal the tapes and the effect it had on the Watergate investigation.