The political avalanche that consumed President Richard Nixon and forced him to resign in August 1974 gained steam more than a year after it was revealed that one of Nixon's most loyal aides had recorded White House attempts to stop the FBI investigation into the Watergate break-in in a series of memoranda.
Now President Trump faces a similar crisis, this time involving an FBI investigation into the activities of Trump's former national security adviser, retired Army lieutenant general Michael Flynn.
On Tuesday, the New York Times reported that former FBI director James Comey wrote a memo about a February attempt by Trump to get the FBI to stop its investigation of Flynn. Once again, the comparisons between Trump, Nixon and the Watergate scandal have flourished.
Early in the morning on June 17, 1972, five burglars connected to Nixon's re-election committee were caught trying to burglarize the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington's Watergate office complex. White House officials, primarily chief of staff H.R. Haldeman, domestic policy aide John Ehrlichman and counsel John Dean, wanted to limit the exposure of the White House to the burglary.
By the morning of June 23, Dean had suggested to Haldeman that the White House could reach out to the FBI and ask them to back away from their investigation, because of the ties of the Watergate burglars to the CIA.
"The way to handle this now is for us to have [deputy CIA director Vernon] Walters call [acting FBI chief] Pat Gray and just say, 'Stay the hell out of this...this is ah, business here we don't want you to go any further on it,'" Haldeman said.
Nixon agreed. He told Haldeman and Ehrlichman to meet with Walters, a longtime Nixon loyalist whom the president had placed in the CIA to monitor its director, Richard Helms, and give him the order to talk to Gray.
"When you get in these people when you...get these people in, say: 'Look, the problem is that this will open the whole, the whole Bay of Pigs thing, and the President just feels that' ah, without going into the details... don't, don't lie to them to the extent to say there is no involvement, but just say this is sort of a comedy of errors, bizarre, without getting into it, 'the President believes that it is going to open the whole Bay of Pigs thing up again. And, ah because these people are plugging for, for keeps and that they should call the FBI in and say that we wish for the country, don't go any further into this case', period!" Nixon told Haldeman.
The Bay of Pigs was a failed invasion of Cuba by soldiers who fled the island after the takeover by Fidel Castro. The April 1961 attack was closely run by the CIA. Four of the Watergate burglars were Cuban exiles.