Skip To Content
Get Our Newsletter
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
Fast Forward

Watergate Lawyer: FBI Firing ‘Darkly Reminiscent’ Of ‘Saturday Night Massacre’

Former Watergate prosecutor Richard Ben-Veniste called President Trump’s firing of James Comey “darkly reminiscent” of the so-called “Saturday Night Massacre,” the evening in October 1973 when President Nixon fired the man investigating him.

Ben-Veniste, who drew the comparison in an interview with the Forward, is far from the first to connect President Trump’s firing of Comey to Nixon’s dismissal of Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox. But Ben-Veniste, whose continued investigation of the Watergate coverup after Cox’s firing helped lead to Nixon’s resignation, highlighted not the firing itself, but the public outrage that followed.

Nixon “managed to focus attention on the Watergate coverup investigation, in a way in which the American public had not itself focused prior to firing Archie Cox,” Ben-Veniste said. “The firing of [Nixon’s] principal investigator was shown to be another act of obstruction of justice, one that backfired miserably against President Nixon, since a new special prosecutor was soon appointed as a result of a firestorm of adverse public opinion.”

That new special prosecutor, Leon Jaworski, continued Cox’s work.

At the time of the “Massacre,” when both the Attorney General and his deputy resigned in protest of Cox’s firing, Ben-Veniste was second-in-command of Cox’s task force working on investigating the Watergate coverup. In a 2010 interview, he described the immediate aftermath of Cox’s firing as “the closest thing to a coup I have ever seen in this country.”

Contact Josh Nathan-Kazis at nathankazis@forward.com

Engage

  • SHARE YOUR FEEDBACK

  • UPCOMING EVENT

    NY-12 Candidate Forum

    THE TEMPLE EMANU-EL STREICKER CENTER and Virtual

    Aug 10, 2022

    7 pm ET · 

    Will the last Jew left in New York’s congressional delegation be reelected? Will New York’s senior congresswoman receive another term? Or will one of the newcomers upend Manhattan politics?

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free under an Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives Creative Commons license as long as you follow our republishing guidelines, which require that you credit Foward and retain our pixel. See our full guidelines for more information.

To republish, copy the HTML, which includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline, and credit to the Foward. Have questions? Please email us at editorial@forward.com.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.