Trump is on a Nixonian collision course with the FBI

By Michael D'Antonio

FBI Director Christopher Wray is forcing the Trump White House to choose between the national interest and President Donald Trump's political hide.

Wray's formal opposition to the release of a secret partisan memo, supported by Republicans critical of the bureau, also sets the stage for a showdown over the future of the nation's most revered law enforcement agency which, before Trump, enjoyed longstanding support from the GOP.

Only Trump could separate the law-and-order party, as the Republicans have been known as for decades, from the FBI. He has done this as part of his larger effort to delegitimize all who have participated in various probes of Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election and other violations of criminal and civil law they might uncover.

According to Politico, Trump decided in mid-January that he would attack his own administration's Justice Department and FBI in response to the Robert Mueller probe. (The FBI provides resources for Mueller and the second-in-command at the Justice Department, Rod Rosenstein, supervises him.) "President Trump has started the clock on the Rosenstein firing watch," GOP strategist Evan Siegfried told Politico. "This is feeding the private discussions in the GOP about the President's state of mind."

Days after Siegfried spoke, Republicans in the House of Representatives made clear their intentions to join the President no matter where his mind resides.

Extreme as a direct legal attack on Mueller may seem, the prospect seems more likely when one considers that stunts like the Nunes memo and the President's attempt to fire the special counsel last year.

Here it's helpful to consider that Donald Trump came of age during the Nixon years, when the president proved unable to shut down an FBI investigation of the Watergate break-in and ultimately resigned over the attempted coverup. And our current President was tutored in the political arts by Nixon loyalist Roger Stone, who, like others, believe Nixon shouldn't have been impeached. (Stone has said that John Dean, the Watergate whistleblower, "perpetrated a fraud" against Nixon.)

The lesson learned by extreme Nixonites was that their guy should have fought harder. Trump, who loves to talk about himself as a fighter, isn't making that mistake. For this reason, we should expect more of the same, including the release of the Nunes memo, the possible resignation of Christopher Wray, and a deepening crisis for the nation. All of this in service to one man's state of mind.