No one can predict how the current tumult involving Donald Trump, the investigation into his 2016 presidential campaign and the insult onslaught that is being hurled at the special counsel conducting the investigation.
However it ends, I take heart in a statement that came from the newly sworn-in 38th president of the United States.
“Our Constitution works,” declared President Gerald R. Ford moments after taking office on Aug. 9, 1974. “Our great republic is a government of laws, not of men,” the president said.
The 45th president is up to his armpits, his eyeballs, perhaps even his comb-over in a probe that is seeking to determine whether his 2016 campaign colluded with Russians who attacked our electoral process. Special counsel Robert Mueller is no fool. He’s not a hack. He is a dedicated professional who once led the FBI. However, the president has launched a full frontal assault on Mueller, seeking to discredit an honorable man and a dedicated public servant.
I don’t know what he’ll conclude when this process ends. Whether he recommends criminal prosecution of senior White House advisers or even the president himself, or decides there’s nothing there, then I will accept whatever he determines.
He is doing this all under the guidance of the U.S. Constitution, which as President Ford told us when he took office functions as it should.
Gerald Ford’s ascent to the presidency was unique. His predecessor, President Nixon, was forced to resign after seeking to cover up a “third rate burglary” at the Watergate office complex on June 17, 1972. One thing led to another and a pair of intrepid Washington Post reporters — Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward — peeled the layers of deception away for the nation to see for itself.
The constitutional crisis that evolved from this investigation was unprecedented in its scope. Yet the government held together.
Nixon quit the presidency. Ford — who became vice president when Spiro Agnew resigned in another scandal involving bribery — calmly took office and assumed control of the executive branch of government.
No matter how this latest controversy ends, I am taking considerable comfort in the words of wisdom offered by a president whose straightforward eloquence spoke volumes about the inherent strength of our governing document.
It held together then … and will do so now.