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A history of the FBI and former American presidents

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Federal Bureau of Investigation headquarters
The Federal Bureau of Investigation headquarters in Washington Friday, Feb. 3, 2012.
Manuel Balce Ceneta | AP

When President Donald Trump abruptly fired FBI director James Comey last month, he transformed his presidency.

A federal investigation of Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 election isn't going away, and when Comey testifies before Congress today, he could reveal new information regarding the president and his administration.

But Trump's isn't the only presidency that had a dicey relationship with the FBI. In a special program from former NPR host Neal Conan, experts explore the relationship between the FBI and past presidents in U.S. history.

"It is often said, at least as an adage, that the cover up is often worse than the crime," said Michael Gerhardt, professor of constitutional law at the University of North Carolina, when discussing a comparison between the Watergate scandal and what the Trump administration is doing now.

He added it wasn't fair to compare the two since it is still unclear what Trump's intentions were when he held meetings with Comey, and eventually fired him.

The program, titled "You're Fired," is part of Neal Conan's "Truth, Politics and Power" series from PRX.

To listen to their discussion, click the audio player above.

Guests include

Michael Gerhardt, professor of constitutional law at the University of North Carolina. Author of "The Federal Impeachment Process."

Beverly Gage, professor of history at Yale. Her book, "G-Man: J. Edgar Hoover and the American Century" will be published in 2018. 

Henry William Brands, professor of history at the University of Texas. His books include, "The General vs. the President: MacArthur and Truman at the Brink of Nuclear War" and "Traitor to His Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt."

Annette Gordon-Reed, professor of legal history at Harvard Law School. She recommends reading "Never Caught: The Washingtons' Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge," by Erica Armstrong Dunbar.

Further reading

• FBI files: Nixon knew of McGovern 'illegitimate' child

• 'The 1968 Exhibit': Tumultuous times, from Tet to Nixon