Fred Lokken is a professor of political science at Truckee Meadows Community College. Italics indicate emphasis in his tone of voice.
Have you ever seen a political situation like this?
Well, I didn’t live in 1828, so I didn’t see Andrew Jackson, so, no, I’ve never seen anything like it. In my view, it’s a disaster.
What do you think it’s doing to the Republican Party?
Ultimately, as long as they continue to associate with him and back his policies, it’s backing him into a corner, and if anything goes wrong with this administration it will not only stick on Donald Trump but on the entire Republican Party.
Do you think the Russia thing has jelled yet as a disabling factor?
No, but it shows tremendous potential. We finally have the hearings back on track, and we start hearing again of the volume of contact. We certainly are not privy to the nature of the contact, but with the firing of Comey today—which I think is because of the Russia investigation—it smacks a bit of Richard Nixon, a president who basically believed he was above the law and who literally tried to [punish] anyone who challenged that thinking, and we know how that worked out. I’m just absolutely appalled by the firing. I’m no fan of Comey, but there’s no logical explanation for it except an attempt to do in an investigation that Comey says is underway into the president and his administration.
Is it an Archibald Cox moment? [President Nixon fired special prosecutor Cox in an unsuccessful attempt to end his investigation, instead giving impetus to impeachment.]
Well, that didn’t go well. Yes, that actually created a real backlash, and I’m anticipating that we’re going to see a real backlash [over Comey] but not from his [Trump’s] base. His base will ignore everything that’s going on, but in terms of the reaction, because there’s no other valid explanation, yes, there’s going to be, I think, political hell to pay for it.
Is there a danger that the public will begin to have scandal fatigue?
That’s very possible, but we witness in the Watergate process—which comes and goes, much as this scandal does, but it heats up. If you just get some jelling of issues, or if you get more of a process occurring in the House of Representatives, the Judiciary Committee, then I think that it could actually draw a lot of interest by the public. You have a portion of the public that immediately suspects the worst of this president, and that was very true of Richard Nixon as well. And so the issue is, at what pace it attracts his base, if they’re beginning to question what they’ve committed to, what they believe in and to begin to understand that, you know, perhaps the mainstream media’s right about all the things that Trump denies but turn out to be true. So we have to let the investigation play out. But there is a potential here, a risk for the Trump administration that this gains in significance and gains in attention and overcomes any possible scandal fatigue.