"What Trump has now done ... I would consider to be a completely evil strategy, that is to go at the person above him, the people below him, and try and isolate Mueller."

As House Republicans close ranks to try and discredit the Justice Department’s attempts to investigate Donald Trump’s ties to Russia, Trump himself has engaged in an aggressive smear campaign against senior FBI officials, and is now threatening Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

All of these moves smack of a desperate, and authoritarian, push to isolate special counsel Robert Mueller and replace the senior law enforcement officials who are either assisting or overseeing him. Rosenstein is charged with overseeing the Mueller investigation.

Former Watergate prosecutor Nick Ackerman, appearing on MSNBC’s All In With Chris Hayes, had some harsh words for Trump’s disturbing behavior.

“Having lived through Watergate,” Hayes asked him, “what do you make of what’s happening right now?”

“I think it’s just pure evil,” replied Ackerman. “You’ve got a President of the United States who recognizes he cannot politically fire Mueller. So what does he do? He goes after the people that are working on his investigation, the people that have put this investigation together for him in the first place. And then he goes after Rod Rosenstein, who is his supervisor.”

“What Trump has now done has taken, what I would consider to be, a completely evil strategy, that is to go at the person above him, the people below him, and try and isolate Mueller,” Ackerman concluded. “That’s what he thinks is going to get him off the hook.”

Ackerman has warned of Trump’s conduct throughout the investigation of Russia. In July, he said that Trump’s behavior “cries out guilt” and the attempts to defame and discredit the probe and everyone involved in it are “all being orchestrated by the president.”

Ackerman was there, on the front lines, the last time a president even came close to abusing his power so grievously to get himself out of trouble. We should heed his warnings.