Trump’s embrace of one of Richard Nixon’s most notorious moves poses a question: Will voters still hold a president accountable for abusing his power?
Reacting to The New York Times’ story that White House Counsel Don McGahn has been speaking with Robert Mueller’s team, President Donald Trump tweeted out that McGahn is not a “John Dean type ‘RAT,’” and that the story was “fake news.”
It’s odd that Trump should bring up John Dean this weekend, for it was only this week that we also learned Trump has an Enemies List, just like Richard Nixon did. Unlike Nixon, though, the president is hiding nothing—using security clearances and his Twitter account as the chief weapons to go after his opponents.
This is a dangerous move.
Nixon’s Enemies List, officially called his “Opponents List,” was a document that was initially compiled by presidential advisor George T. Bell for Charles Colson, the infamous “hatchet man.” Colson turned over the list to White House Counsel John Dean on September 9, 1971. The list, which at first included 20 names, was a compilation of figures from all walks of life, ranging from the actor Paul Newman (“Radic-Lib causes ... Heavy McCarthy involvement ’68”) to journalists such as Mary McGrory and Daniel Schorr (a “real media enemy”) to politicians like the African American legislators Ron Dellums and John Conyers (“a leading black anti-Nixon spokesman”), to the labor leader Leonard Woodstock, president of the United Auto Workers. The New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath even made the document.