Top Senate Dem to Trump: It would be a 'grave mistake' to follow in Richard Nixon's footsteps

Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyDurbin calls Mueller report findings on Trump team 'troubling' 20 Dems demand no more money for ICE agents, Trump wall The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump, Dems prep for Mueller report's release MORE (D-Vt.) on Friday warned President TrumpDonald John TrumpRussia's election interference is a problem for the GOP Pence to pitch trade deal during trip to Michigan: report Iran oil minister: US made 'bad mistake' in ending sanctions waivers MORE against following in the footsteps of Richard Nixon cautioning that doing so would be a "grave mistake."

Leahy, a leading member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the panel's former chairman, invoked the Watergate scandal that upended Nixon's administration to urge Trump to make special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE’s report public.

Leahy, who was first elected to the Senate three months after former President Nixon resigned, wrote in an op-ed to The Washington Post that it would be a mistake for Trump to fight the release of the special counsel’s report to the public.

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"Now that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has concluded his investigation and has submitted a report to Attorney General William P. Barr, I believe it would be a grave mistake for the president to follow the footsteps of Nixon and seek to hide the truth from both Congress and the American people," Leahy wrote. "Nixon fought the release of his secret White House recordings all the way to our highest court. He lost. If Trump attempts to hide the Mueller report, I believe he will lose, too."

“The truth has a way of coming out in the end. If Nixon taught us anything, it is this: the harder the attempts to conceal the truth, the harder the fall,” Leahy added.

Leahy's op-ed comes days after Trump said Mueller’s report should be made public. The president also said the decision about whether to release Mueller’s report remains with Attorney General William Barr, who has not indicated how much of the report's findings will be made public.

Leahy predicted the White House may instead turn to the courts to prevent the final conclusions’ publication, citing reports suggesting the possibility of the president invoking executive privilege before it goes to Congress.

"Ultimately, if the administration tries to hide the full Mueller report, the president will find himself relying on the courts to quash a congressional subpoena. No one can predict with certainty what the courts will do, but the United States v. Nixon decision makes a strong case for disclosure," Leahy wrote.

“Where there is unparalleled public interest in the material; where Congress has a constitutional role in holding the Office of the Presidency to account; and where the alternative could allow for the concealment of misconduct and national security vulnerabilities within the highest levels of our government, I believe Trump, like Nixon before him, would find little refuge in the courts,” he added.

Leahy’s op-ed comes as Trump and Congress brace for the conclusions of Mueller's investigative report, which was delivered to the Justice Department on Friday afternoon. The contents of the report remain unknown to the president and the American public, but lawmakers on Capitol Hill are expected to get a glimpse of Mueller’s findings as soon as this weekend.