One of the prosecutors in the Watergate investigation says that Donald Trump's behavior in covering up the investigation into his Russian ties "cries out guilt."
Former U.S. attorney and Watergate prosecutor Nick Akerman said that Donald Trump's actions in covering up the investigation into his Russian ties "cries out guilt."
In an interview on MSNBC's "The 11th Hour" with Brian Williams, Akerman said special counsel Robert Mueller "certainly isn't witnessing the behavior of an innocent man" as he investigates Trump.
WILLIAMS: Do you think [Mueller] is accelerating his work at all? Because of any outside forces he may be witnessing? Do you think he is witnessing the behavior of an innocent man?
AKERMAN: He certainly isn't witnessing the behavior of an innocent man. Everything this president has done cries out guilt. I don't think he's doing anything more than he's been doing all along. [...]
AKERMAN: I think you have to put this in context, this is no different than what happened in Watergate. The whole investigation, and what's going on here, and the statements being made by the White House people — Kushner, Don Jr., the president — it's all being orchestrated by the president, it's not being driven by the lawyers. [...]
Here, these people are caught between a rock and a hard place, in the sense that if they come out and they tell the truth and say actually what happened, they're going to lose their positions of power and influence.
This is the same thing that happened with the Nixon White House, and the people on top, exactly the same way — that despite what advice they got from their lawyers, they all went into grand juries, they testified in grand juries, they testified before Congress.
And if you look at the statements that Kushner made, and the statement that Don Jr. made, what you can see is a very clever setup, whereby Don Jr. is taking the fall, he had no choice because he was the one that was on these emails. He loved it when he heard about all of this information coming in on Hillary Clinton, but yet he says nothing happened out of that. Then you've got Jared Kushner, who minimizes his involvement by saying he came in after they were talking about these incriminating documents, and left before anything else was said even though he knew he was in a meeting with a bunch of people speaking Russian with a Russian interpreter.
The former prosecutor also sees Watergate parallels in how Trump's subordinates are handling the scandal.
Instead of letting their lawyers do all the talking, figures like Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner have been speaking, and Akerman believes that doing so is at Trump's direction in "a very clever setup," and that Trump Jr. is "taking the fall" for the meeting with Russian operatives.
Trump has been following in Nixon's footsteps for months, and key figures like John Dean, who was Nixon's white counsel — and served time in prison for his role in Watergate — have said Trump has even "surpassed Nixon" for his direct involvement in covering up his team's misdeeds.
Only two weeks into his presidency, Trump had already reached Nixonian levels of support for his impeachment, and at that point, the country had not yet learned of all the Trump campaign's contacts with Russia, nor had Trump decided to fire FBI Director James Comey for not backing off of the investigation.
Many news articles have cited Trump's support among the base of Republican voters, but Nixon had that same level of support as he headed toward impeachment and his eventual resignation. It didn't help him, and it might not save Trump either.