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Long IslandPolitics

Firing special prosecutor in 1973 'didn't work out too well'

President Richard Nixon speaks during a White House

President Richard Nixon speaks during a White House news briefing in Washington on April 17, 1973. Credit: AP / Henry Burroughs

Trump: I'm no Nixon

President Donald Trump learned from the Saturday Night Massacre.

He said he never would have fired special counsel Robert Mueller because the dismissal of Justice Department officials in 1973 "didn't work out too well" for former President Richard Nixon, Newsday's Scott Eidler reports.

In a wide-ranging interview that aired Sunday morning on ABC, Trump also said he did not sit for an interview with investigators during the special counsel's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, "because they were looking to get us for lies, for slight misstatements." Instead, Trump submitted written responses. "I looked at what happened to people and it was very unfair," he told ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos.

During the interview on "This Week," Trump said he never was going to fire Mueller. "Because I watched Richard Nixon go around firing everybody, and that didn't work out too well," Trump said.

In fact, the Mueller report quoted White House Counsel Don McGahn’s sworn testimony that Trump tried to have him contrive a false conflict charge that would prod the Justice Department to dismiss the special counsel.

In October 1973, Nixon ordered Attorney General Elliot Richardson to fire Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox. He refused to carry out the order and resigned. Then, Nixon ordered Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus to fire Cox. Ruckelshaus refused and was dismissed. Solicitor General Robert Bork then carried out the order. In less than a year, Nixon himself resigned.

Janison: When Trump wanted Pelosi to impeach

Newsday's Dan Janison finds that a decade ago Donald Trump complained that Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi failed to push impeachment of the last Republican president, George W. Bush.

"Well, you know, when she first got in and was named speaker, I met her," Trump said in an October 2008 interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "And I'm very impressed by her … I like her a lot. But I was surprised that she didn't do more in terms of Bush and going after Bush."

His reasoning? The justification by Bush in the runup to the Iraq War was based on lies about weapons of mass destruction.

The Washington Post reports Sunday that the push to impeach Trump has stalled because of deference and fear of Pelosi.

Plug the leak

The Trump campaign fired pollsters after dismal internal poll numbers were leaked.

The polls showed the president trailing former Vice President Joe Biden in critical 2020 battleground states and with razor-thin leads in normally reliable Republican states like Texas.

Trump has denied the existence of negative polling, saying last week in the Oval Office that he had “great internal polling” and saying the numbers reported were from “fake polls.”

“We are winning in every single state that we've polled. We're winning in Texas very big. We're winning in Ohio very big. We're winning in Florida very big,” he said.

In the search for meaning behind leaks, The New York Times intriguingly reports that: "Some aides to the president appeared to be using the episode to undermine one of the president’s closest advisers, Kellyanne Conway, who was Mr. Trump’s final campaign manager in 2016 and is now his White House counselor. Her former firm, the Polling Company, was one of the ones to be ousted. Ms. Conway no longer has any formal ties to the company, which was sold in 2017 to CRC Public Relations, a well-known conservative advocacy firm."

U.S. hacking of Russia fake, Trump says

A New York Times story published Saturday about ramped up U.S. cyber attacks on Russia's power grid reported that U.S. officials don't feel comfortable sharing details of their operations with the commander in chief.

The Times story said: “Two administration officials said they believed Mr. Trump had not been briefed in any detail about the steps to place ‘implants’ — software code that can be used for surveillance or attack — inside the Russian grid.

“Pentagon and intelligence officials described broad hesitation to go into detail with Mr. Trump about operations against Russia for concern over his reaction — and the possibility that he might countermand it or discuss it with foreign officials, as he did in 2017 when he mentioned a sensitive operation in Syria to the Russian foreign minister.” 

Some twitter pundits and other observers think that the Times buried the lede.

Whatever raised his ire, Trump called the article a "virtual act of Treason" and said the story was false in a series of tweets Sunday morning.

What else is happening:

  • Trump attempted to clean up his comments on foreign interference in elections during a Friday appearance on "Fox & Friends."
  • Democratic groups are preparing to spend hundreds of millions of dollars attacking Trump while their candidates fight it out in the primary.
  • Sunday was the four-year anniversary of the escalator ride that would change history.
  • Trump's planned paint job for Air Force One might be blocked by language inserted by Democrats into the annual defense policy bill.
  • Trump suggests supporters might demand more than two terms from him, as he predicts post-presidency demise of Washington Post and New York Times.

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