Floyd Abrams On Obama Vs. Nixon

Attorney Floyd Abrams — one of the country’s leading authorities on the First Amendment — joined us today to talk about revelations that the Justice Department seized two months of phone records from the Associated Press.

Abrams spoke to the scale and seriousness of the investigation that had been revealed, in particular the breadth of the phone records that had been seized.

“The Department of Justice now sits with an enormous amount of information about who called in ¬†and who called out, about stories having nothing to do with this investigation. While they tell us they’re not going to look at it, they don’t care about that stuff, that’s not the way we behave in a democratic society, First-Amendment-Protected society. We wouldn’t need a First Amendment otherwise! We generally proceed on the basis that the government is capable of, and sometimes does, act very badly indeed with information, let alone information they shouldn’t have. So it’s a very major step, very major, for them to go in and — in effect — act no different than if they had sent FBI personnel right into the AP offices and said, give us your phone records, just give them to us.”

Abrams also responded to a caller who compared the recent scandals over IRS scrutiny of conservative groups and the seizure of AP phone records to some of the actions of the Nixon administration.

“The Nixon administration aimed at political enemies. And we ought to make very sure that what the IRS was doing, even though it obviously focused on conservative groups, that at least it didn’t come from the White House. And if it didn’t, that would be a very big distinction from anything in the Nixon administration. So far as we know, the President doesn’t have an enemies list, which President Nixon had.”

Abrams also identified himself as an “Obama voter,” and cautioned that political leanings should not affect how anyone reacts to the current administration’s actions.

“If this were Nixon, or if this were a Republican president, a lot of us who voted for President Obama would be absolutely up in arms, and we should be no less so because we happen to agree with the administration on other issues.”

You can listen to the full segment with Floyd Abrams here:

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
Oct 7, 2015
The Doctors Without Borders trauma center is seen in flames, after explosions near their hospital in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz. Doctors Without Borders announced that the death toll from the bombing of the group's Kunduz hospital compound has risen to at least 16, including 3 children and that tens are missing after the explosions that may have been caused by a U.S. airstrike.  (AP)

The U.S. airstrike on the hospital in Kunduz. The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan faces tough questions from Congress. We’re looking for what really happened.

Oct 7, 2015
Students in the new documentary film "Beyond Measure" take part in a project-based learning activity with their peers. (Courtesy the Filmmakers)

Arne Duncan’s headed out as U.S. Education Secretary. What’s next for America’s school kids?

Oct 6, 2015
In this Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015, photo, Dorothy McIntosh Shuemake, mother of Alison Shuemake, browses a picture collage of her daughter at her home, in Middletown, Ohio. Alison Shuemake, 18, died Aug. 26, after a suspected heroin overdose. (AP)

American addiction. From prescription painkillers to heroin. The numbers are staggering. Why?

Oct 6, 2015
Eric Baker, co-owner of the Mo Money Pawn Shop, poses for a photo at the shop Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015, in Phoenix.  (AP)

American gun policy front and center in the 2016 campaigns after the shootings in Oregon. We’ll look at who stands where on guns.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Rep. Daniel Webster: ‘I’m Gonna Sell This Message’
Tuesday, Oct 6, 2015

When House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) announced his retirement and resignation from his position last month, it surprised both his Party and the Washington political establishment. Now, with the House set to vote on a new Speaker on Oct. 25, three would-be party leaders are stepping in to make their case. U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster […]

More »
Our Week In The Web: October 2, 2015
Friday, Oct 2, 2015

We say hello again to our email address (since so many of you did this week) and goodbye to the Log Lady.

More »
Interview With Sen. Bernie Sanders: ‘Count Me As A Radical’
Thursday, Oct 1, 2015

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is making waves in the 2016 Presidential race, and he joined us today from the US Capitol to explain how his campaign message is connecting with voters around the country.

More »