‘Saturday Night Massacre’ relatives on FBI firing comparison: ‘It’s too early’

William Ruckelshaus was part of President Nixon's "Saturday Night Massacre," and his family said its too early to compare it to President Trump's FBI firing. (WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – FBI Director Jim Comey’s firing is prompting some to compare it to Watergate, but relatives of those involved said it’s too easy to make a connection.

Comey’s termination hit home for Indiana Senator John Ruckelshaus. “A little bit of a flashback,” State Sen. Ruckelshaus said. “I’ll never forget that day. I had a few people call me and say this is somewhat analogous to Watergate.”

In the 1970s, a special prosecutor investigated President Richard Nixon for Watergate Hotel wiretapping. The president ordered his attorney general to fire that special prosecutor.

Instead, the attorney general resigned. Nixon then asked Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus to terminate the attorney, the chaos dubbed the “Saturday Night Massacre.”

“My uncle anticipated this and had already submitted a letter of resignation across the table, and this all transpired within an hour,” Ruckelshaus said.

Fast forward to 2017 with firing of Comey, all while President Trump is under investigation. “It’s still way too early right now to make any of those comparisons,” Ruckelshaus said.

He’s not alone. University of Indianapolis professor Dr. Laura Albright doesn’t see the connection, either.

“From a political spectrum, no I don’t think it’s the same thing at all,” Dr. Albright said. “I understand the comparisons. It’s easy to make those simplified judgments, but there’s a lot more detail and nuances that are going on here that really separate the two.”

Dr. Albright said this could change over time. History helped William Ruckelshaus. Two years ago, President Barack Obama awarded him the Medal of Freedom.

“Principally, I think he gave my uncle that award for sort of a profile in courage for being able to stand up to then a president at a time when our country was in deep chaos,”  Ruckelshaus said.

John was there that day, and he can’t wait to see his uncle again and get his take on these “Saturday Night Massacre” comparisons.

“It’s very easy for Americans right now to get entrapped in minutiae and emotion, but Bill is always able to sort these things out in time,” Ruckelshaus said.

President Nixon didn’t leave office shortly after the “Saturday Night Massacre.” It took ten months before he resigned.

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