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TIM WEINER: Well, this story begins when J. Edgar Hoover dies six weeks before the Watergate break-in. President Nixon moved to appoint his own stooge to run the FBI. When the FBI rank and file were on the Watergate case, resisted every attempt, and there were continuous attempts by Nixon and his henchmen in the FBI and in the Justice Department to obstruct the investigation, it was the FBI that finally brought Nixon to justice. Every — I would say a decade or so, give or take a few years, we see this happening again with Ronald Reagan during the Iran Contra affair. Some years later with Bill Clinton and his lying under oath to protect the secrets of his sex life, with President George W. Bush and his illegal eavesdropping on Americans.
It was then in 2004 that Robert Mueller, the head of the FBI and his immediate superior James Comey, the deputy attorney general went to the president and said, “You have to bring this program of spying on Americans within the ambit of the law or we will resign in protest.” Bush backed down. Now, we see Mueller investigating the president and his star witness is James Comey.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: So OK. You know expand on that. Many of them, you know, engaged during the Bush controversy as you’re just saying and you said Bush backed down. What is — give us a sense of Comey and the others and Mueller, how many are there around him that might also say, “No, you know, we’re all going to stand in this together”? How are the others all sort of standing tall still if they are?
WEINER: The key fact here is that Trump can’t fire the FBI. Even if somehow he subverts Robert Mueller as investigator, the FBI will carry on. They will gather evidence. They will submit it to the United States attorneys and federal prosecutors in Washington, D.C., in Virginia, and here in New York. They can’t be stopped.
AMANPOUR: Do you see any parallels? I mean certainly what President Nixon did, the Saturday Night Massacre, I mean all of that stuff was so utterly egregious. I mean it’s not the same with Donald Trump, is it? It’s not as full frontal assaulting.
WEINER: Well, we’ve seen repeatedly that history has no meaning to Trump. The precedent has no meaning to Trump. He lives in the moment. He lies for sport.
About This Episode EXPAND
Christiane Amanpour speaks with former head of UK Foreign Office Simon Fraser about Brexit, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand about the future of the Democratic Party and author Tim Weiner about the Mueller investigation. Walter Isaacson speaks with musician Ben Jaffe, Creative Director of Preservation Hall.LEARN MORE