The word “Watergate” was on many minds on Wednesday as critics compared President Trump‘s abrupt firing of FBI Director James Comey to the scandal that brought down former President Richard Nixon in 1972.
Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward — who along with colleague Carl Bernstein famously broke the story of the Nixon-sanctioned break-in at the Democratic campaign headquarters in the Watergate building — weighed in on the Watergate comparisons in an interview with MSNBC’s Morning Joe.
“Indeed there are comparisons,” he said Wednesday. “This is a remarkable moment. It’s not something to take lightly.”
Woodward cited “many, many inconsistencies” in the Trump team’s rationale for firing Comey, who had been leading an investigation into the president’s ties to Russia.
“There are now stories that the grand jury is looking at this … Whether it’s going to be done properly, aggressively, we’re going to have to see,” said Woodward.
With this new scandal and this new president, Woodward added, “the responsibility quadruples on the part of the media to dig into this very systematically and get answers. A remarkable thing happened when the intelligence community issued that report saying Russia interfered in the [2016 U.S.] election and the people who read the highly classified version say that the evidence is compelling 100 percent. Well, who was involved in that, who knew about it? We better get answers to that.”
President Trump offered his first in-person explanation of his decision to fire Comey during a surprise meeting with Nixon’s former secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, in the Oval Office on Wednesday.
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“Because he wasn’t doing a good job,” the president said. “Very simply. He was not doing a good job.”
Asked if the firing affected his meeting with top Russian diplomat Sergey Lavrov on Wednesday, Trump replied, “Not at all.”
He did not respond when asked if the next FBI director will be in charge of the Russia investigation.
The Internet certainly isn’t taking the news of Comey’s dismissal lightly. Many on Twitter also saw shades of Watergate in the firing.
Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta fired off a tweet referencing Nixon’s “Saturday Night Massacre,” in which he dismissed Archibald Cox, the independent special prosecutor investigating the Watergate scandal.
The Nixon Library seemed to disagree with the comparisons, however.
“FUN FACT: President Nixon never fired the Director of the FBI #FBIDirector #notNixonian,” read a tweet from the library’s account.