This Is Not That Different From Watergate

This Is Not That Different From Watergate


Leonard Zwelling

One of the great myths that surrounds the Watergate hearings and the run-up to the resignation of Richard Nixon is that the effort to rid America of its Crook President was bipartisan. It was not.

As this terrific NY Times op-ed by Michael Conway (who served on the House Judiciary Committee in 1974 as counsel) and Jon Marshall points out, the real difference between then and now is that in 1974, the Democrats controlled Congress. Now the Republicans do. Then the Republican minority backed Nixon all the way to the bitter end. I remember this well as members of the House Committee just couldn’t vote for any of the articles of impeachment. It was only when the Supreme Court said the “tapes were in” that Senator Hugh Scott (R-PA), Senator Barry Goldwater (R-AZ), and House minority leader John Rhodes went to the White House and told Nixon he was surely going to be impeached and convicted of obstruction of justice and abuse of power that Nixon finally quit. Gerald Ford had defended Nixon. Heck, he pardoned him! Bob Dole had stood up for Nixon, too. Many had. Even Senator Howard Baker’s (R-TN) now famous “what did he know and when did he know it” was aimed at helping not hurting Nixon. I write all of this so that you won’t be discouraged that Mr. Trump will be getting away with anything. It’s still too soon to tell.

The defense has rested in the Manafort trial without putting on a defense. They obviously think that Mueller’s prosecutors have failed to convince at least one juror of Manafort’s guilt or that there were errors in the trial that will be grounds for appeal. I doubt both. Manafort’s next custom suit is likely to be orange.

What we have is a duly elected president who has colluded with the enemy, sanctioned dirty tricks and moved to cover them up. Omarosa may be an opportunist, but that doesn’t make her descriptions of internecine warfare in the White House inaccurate. Of course, she taped herself. She would have been crazy not to.

As Michelle Goldberg points out in her editorial, you may not trust all of what Ms. Newman has to say, but she’s more credible than her former boss. There is no way she got fired without him knowing it. He lies. But we knew that already!

The country is in a lot of trouble. The swamp is not drained. Trump refilled it. Our relations with our allies are at an all-time low. We are cozying up to Russia as it runs roughshod over Eastern Europe and the Middle East. The one hope we may have had with Iran, although I did oppose the treaty, is now gone. No progress has been made in North Korea. Despite a great economic outlook, the tax breaks have all gone to the rich and inflation is keeping pace with the economic expansion making real spending power stand still. Trump still has not addressed the decaying infrastructure and if you need proof of climate change beyond the fires and rains, you really are in denial.

The country was in better shape when Nixon was in office, but he undermined the public’s trust and paid accordingly. I still regret that he was never tried in the Senate after being impeached.

I don’t think it will take much more to get rid of Trump. At some point in the not too distant future, Mitch McConnell may have to go to the White House and let Mr. Trump know that despite the hardened 30 to 40% who love him, the rest of the country wants him gone. It may take a while, but have faith.

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