OPINION: Comey's firing like déjà vu all over again with Nixon era

Once again an investigator got too close for comfort with the president.

ByABC News
May 10, 2017, 2:16 PM

— -- It feels like déjà vu all over again for those of us who lived through the Nixon administration. An investigator gets too close to the occupant of the Oval Office for comfort and gets the boot. The rule of law is threatened. Now what?

We know how Watergate turned out -- the combination of a relentless special prosecutor (even after one had been fired), high pressure committees on Capitol Hill, a persistent judge and a probing press forced Richard Nixon to resign.

Now, with the exception of the media, which Trump has undermined on a daily basis, none of those other checks on the president is in play. The Senate Republican leadership has made it clear that no special committees or special counsels will be named. And the Congressional investigations that are underway stray far from serious inquiries.

In the immediate wake of the bombshell firing of FBI Director James Comey, members of the Trump team used the opportunity to call for the termination of the investigation into the Kremlin’s meddling into the presidential election in the United States of America, just in case any of us missed what this dismissal was really about.

White House mouthpieces and some congressional Republicans point to the fact that Comey’s dismissal came after a recommendation from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who joined with his boss, Jeff Sessions, in papering Comey’s demise.

Defenders of the president’s decision to oust the man investigating his team’s ties to Russia gloss over the fact that it was promoted by an attorney general who recused himself from that investigation because of his own contacts with Vladimir Putin’s representatives.

Instead they point to the deputy -- citing his recent confirmation vote of 94-6 as a sign of overwhelming endorsement of his probity.

But that was before Rosenstein sent out a memorandum that is laughable on its face. The idea that the Trump Justice Department terminated the FBI director because of his handling of Hillary Clinton’s emails during the presidential campaign doesn’t pass the red face test.

Without any of the players in Washington ready to use the checks the Founders placed on the presidency, Donald Trump seems certain to shut down any credible investigation into Russian interference in what are supposed to be our free and fair elections. There are state elections coming up soon. I suspect Moscow is well-prepared.

Cokie Roberts is a political commentator for ABC News. Opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of ABC News.

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