- President Donald Trump said he has been spending a lot of his time after acquittal thinking about President Richard Nixon and looking at his portrait.
- “I think of Nixon more than anybody else, and what that dark period was in our country … It was dark, and it went on for a long time,” he told Fox News personality Geraldo Rivera in a Thursday podcast interview.
- Nixon was investigated over his role in the break-in to the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters in Watergate, and the subsequent cover-up. He resigned in 1974 before Congress could impeach him.
- The Senate found Trump not guilty of abusing his power and obstructing justice last Wednesday.
- In the podcast, Trump also said he was weighing barring officials from listening to his phone calls “entirely.” A former national-security official told Business Insider that this would be “catastrophic.”
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
President Donald Trump has described spending his post-impeachment days thinking about President Richard Nixon “more than anybody else” and staring at the White House portrait of the resigned president.
Trump made the comments in an interview with Fox News personality Geraldo Rivera’s “Roadkill” podcast, which published Thursday.
When asked how he felt after being impeached last December, only to be acquitted last week, Trump said: “Well, it’s a terrible thing, and, you know, I think of Nixon more than anybody else, and what that dark period was in our country. And the whole thing with the tapes and the horror show.”
“It was dark, and it went on for a long time. And I watched it,” he said.
Trump was referring to the federal investigation into Nixon’s role in a 1972 break-in at the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters at the Watergate complex, and the subsequent efforts to cover it up.
In 1973, Nixon refused to hand over taped calls prosecutors believed to connect him to the burglary – citing executive privilege – and numerous top White House officials resigned rather than following Nixon’s orders.
In 1974, the House Judiciary Committee voted to start impeachment proceedings against Nixon, but he resigned from office later that year before he could be impeached.
Trump added Thursday: “I would always think – well, every time in the White House, I pass this beautiful portrait of various presidents, right?”
“But the portrait of Richard Nixon, I sort of – I don’t know. It’s a little bit of a different feeling than I get from looking at the other portraits of presidents.”
Listen to the podcast here:
— Newsradio WTAM 1100 (@wtam1100) February 13, 2020
Trump also mentioned the widespread scrutiny over President Ronald Reagan after his 1980s arms-for-hostages deal – known as the Iran-Contra affair – saying that Reagan “went through that [scrutiny] for years” and that he “never really got over the spell.”
“It was dark, but not – nothing like Nixon,” Trump said.
Trump was cleared of abuse of power and obstruction of justice by the Senate on February 5. The Senate voted completely on party lines, with the exception of Sen. Mitt Romney, who voted to convict him on one count.
Trump and his allies have since attacked Romney, with the president accusing the Utah senator of being a “Democrat secret asset” and baselessly implicating him in a conspiracy theory related to Ukraine.
He launched another personal attack on Romney – a devout Mormon – in the Thursday podcast, saying that he was truly religious, he “should have voted on both [counts], if you think about it.”
Trump had been accused of asking Ukraine’s president for a so-called quid-pro-quo deal, in which he would release withheld military aid to Ukraine if the country publicly investigated his Democratic opponent former Vice President Joe Biden and his family.
The allegations revolved around a July 2019 phone call, which several other officials had dialed in to.
On Thursday, Trump also told Rivera that he “may end the practice” of letting officials listen to his calls with foreign leaders “entirely.” A former senior National Security Agency official told Business Insider’s Sonam Sheth that allowing Trump to conduct private calls with foreign leaders “would be catastrophic for us.”
- Read more:
- After a day of lashing out at critics on Twitter, Trump is oddly quiet after AG Barr issued a rare public rebuke
- Trump is considering barring all officials from listening to his phone calls with foreign leaders, which could be ‘catastrophic’ for national security
- Senate Republicans defied Trump and voted to stop him from taking further military action against Iran
- ‘He doesn’t give a f—‘: Trump is making a fool out of every Republican senator who said he learned his lesson from impeachment