FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover testifies before the Senate internal security committee, Nov. 17, 1953.
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antecedent / power

Donald Trump Wants to Fight the FBI? It’s a Suicide Mission.

Presidents who take on the Bureau rarely win.
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Trump wants to go to war with Mueller? A man who faced down George W. Bush and Dick Cheney to protect the Constitution from becoming a casualty in the war on terror, a Marine veteran with a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star? Trump wants to attack the Justice Department and the FBI when he and his administration are the focus of the most politically charged criminal investigation in half a century?

These would be suicide missions. Ever since Nixon, no president has won a face-to-face battle with the FBI or a special counsel investigating the White House. And Richard Nixon, for all his deviousness and duplicity, was an infinitely more sophisticated political operator than Donald Trump.

Nixon never would have fallen had not FBI agents pursued their investigation despite the fact that their leaders were hopelessly compromised or criminally entangled by Watergate. We would never know how President Ronald Reagan sold arms to Iran as ransom for American hostages had not the FBI used state-of-the-art forensics to salvage slam-dunk evidence from purged White House computer files in 1987. President Bill Clinton never would have faced impeachment for perjury had not the FBI drawn his blood — and secured DNA evidence of his sexual dalliances—in the Map Room of the White House in 1998.

Only the FBI can walk into the White House and compel a president to comply with the law. Only the FBI can build a criminal case against a chief executive. And Trump may not realize he is up against three present and former FBI directors who have proved fearless and fiercely independent when it comes to confronting presidents.
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