Historian Douglas Brinkley said Tuesday that President Donald Trump "behaved like a tyrant" in his firing of FBI Director James Comey and likened it to President Richard Nixon's firing of the special Watergate prosecutor in 1973.
"It's a very troubling abuse of power," Brinkley told Anderson Cooper on CNN. "Donald Trump just behaved like a tyrant.
"We see that in other countries in the world," he added. "We don't expect it here."
In the "Saturday Night Massacre" on Oct. 20, 1973, Nixon fired independent Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox — leading to the resignations of Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus.
Brinkley noted that Trump has not commented about the firing beyond an initial statement that has been released by the White House.
"Nixon didn't want to talk either," he told Cooper. "When he did come out of the woodwork, he said, 'I'm not a crook.'
"You had a plurality of Americans starting to talk about whether Nixon needed to be impeached or not.
"The fact that Donald Trump is trying to exonerate himself is troubling."
The historian also praised Republican Sens. Richard Burr of North Carolina, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and John McCain of Arizona for expressing concerns about Comey's dismissal.
"We need more heroes in the Republican world, and we're starting to see them with Richard Burr and John McCain – men of duty, honor, country – who aren't going to play a partisan game, but do what's best for our nation."
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