Fox News personality Will Cain was criticized after he used a quote from former President Richard Nixon—the Republican whose reputation was forever tarnished as a result of the Watergate scandal—to defend former Republican President Donald Trump in the wake of his announcement the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) raided his Mar-a-Lago estate and "even broke into my safe!"
In the days since the raid, sources said Trump was in possession of classified material—including nuclear secrets—that prompted the intelligence community to voice concerns about national security and the possibility classified government secrets could prove a boon to foreign adversaries and even allies.
But in an effort to bolster a Fox News report that claimed the documents in Trump's possession are protected via attorney-client privilege, Cain cited now-infamous remarks from Nixon that if the President does something, then it is not actually illegal.
You can hear what he said in the video below.
Speaking to William Bennett, who previously served under Republican Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, Cain said:
“When it comes to classified documents, famously, President Nixon said, that if the President does it, that it is not illegal. Is that not truly the standard when it comes to classified documents?"
"The President has the ability to at any time declassify anything.”
The quote Cain attributed to Nixon, while said by Nixon, was not uttered while Nixon was in office, however.
In fact, the quote was said by Nixon during a 1977 interview with British journalist David Frost, which later became the central subject of Peter Morgan's play Frost/Nixon in 2006.
Nixon received significant pushback and he attempted to walk back the quote several months later, declaring he did not believe a President is "above the law."
Ultimately, the interviews did little to salvage his image, which was dealt irreparable blows following investigations and the subsequent impeachment proceedings related to the Nixon administration's continual attempts to cover up its involvement in the June 17, 1972 break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Washington, D.C., Watergate Hotel and Office Building.
The impeachment proceedings ended in August 1974 without an official vote because Nixon resigned from office.
Cain was swiftly criticized.
In the days since the raid, Trump and his allies have said that he had the ability to declassify confidential information and documents, claims that have been disputed by experts who, as Bennett said to Cain, have noted that there is a specific federal process that must be adhered to before any information can be declassified.
Earlier this year, there were reports that while in office, Trump regularly tore up documents and memos after reading them and even flushed some papers down the toilet.
Those reports were preceded by news that The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) had retrieved from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate White House record boxes containing important communication records, gifts, and letters from world leaders.
A source who spoke to The Washington Post said that the transfer to Mar-a-Lago was “out of the ordinary … NARA has never had that kind of volume transfer after the fact like this.”
The Washington Post noted that the recovery of materials has “raised new concerns” about adherence to the Presidential Records Act, legislation governing the official records of Presidents and Vice Presidents created or received after January 20, 1981, and mandating the preservation of all presidential records.
Trump’s advisers have denied that there was any “nefarious intent.” The National Archives declined to comment at the time but has since asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate Trump's handling of White House records.