Within the first hour of a New York Times report that President Trump had wanted his Department of Justice to charge Hillary Clinton and James Comey, the media was apoplectic, likening the president to a third-world dictator, calling him worse than Nixon, and suggesting he should be impeached.
CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin said the report is worse than anything Nixon ever did: "The abuse of governmental authority to investigate and harass political enemies was at the core of the general scandals known as Watergate. What Don McGahn and his colleagues knew is, this is worse. Nixon didn’t try to actually prosecute George McGovern or his political enemies. He didn’t use the most powerful force that the Justice Department has, which is criminal investigation and prosecution.”
“If this had gone forward, this would have been worse than what Nixon did during Watergate," Toobin emphasized.
Many said Trump is mimicking the behavior of dictators.
"This is the kind of thing you see in third-world countries,” CNN contributor Shawn Turner. “This is the kind of thing you see dictators do."
Despite charges never being brought, many said the intent is enough to justify impeaching the president.
NBC’s Ken Dilanian, the Washington Post’s Carl Bernstein, and CNN’s Toobin all said the echoes the second impeachment charge brought against Richard Nixon.
“Today I read the articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon,” Bernstein said. “Everybody should read article 2 and how similar it is to what we’ve seen Trump do here. “
“It opens him up to impeachment, no question about it,” MSNBC contributor and former Watergate prosecutor, Jill Wine-Banks, said.
Another Watergate attorney and frequent TV personality, John Dean, said Trump’s behavior was straight out of a “banana republic” and was “autocratic.”
"This is a scandal of 15 on a 1 to 10 level,” Neera Tanden said during an appearance on an MSNBC panel. “That should scare every single American."
MSNBC contributor Nick Ackerman, a former Watergate prosecutor, said: "This is absolutely off the charts. Donald Trump is basically running his office like he’s the head of a banana republic ... It’s all about him trying to undermine the rule of law, which is the basis of this country, which was the foundation of this country. He wants to go back to the time of the English kings where anything goes. And that’s where we’re headed."
Elected Democrats also got in on the hyperbole. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said Trump’s behavior mirrors Saudi Arabia and Russia: "The using of this police power against political enemies is characteristic not only of a banana republic but of Saudi Arabia and Russia, whose rulers apparently Donald Trump really admires.”