Tag Archives: Watergate

Never saw scandal topping Watergate, but this one has done it!

I’ll admit it right up front.

I always thought Watergate was as bad as it could get, short of a president of the United States actually spying for an enemy nation. Then the nation in 2016 elected Donald John Trump as its 45th president.

Now he is embroiled in a scandal that looks for all the world as if it’s going to surpass Watergate in its gravity.

I’m old enough to remember what happened on June 17, 1972 when some burglars got caught breaking into the Democratic National Committee offices at the Watergate complex in Washington. The media treated it initially as a police story. They buried the initial reporting inside the papers. Then it got worse … in a hurry!

We found out that President Nixon’s re-election team was involved. Then we learned that the president told the CIA to head off an FBI probe into what occurred. Then we learned of tape recordings of President Nixon saying precisely that. Then came congressional hearings and all hell broke loose. Then the Supreme Court ordered Nixon to turn the tapes over. Then the president learned his goose was cooked in the Senate if the House impeached him.

Then the president resigned.

Why is this worse? Because the president of the United States has dragged foreign nations into the act of working for his re-election, just as Russia did in helping elect him in 2016. Donald Trump also has used those solicitations for help as bargaining chips in delivering aid to an ally fighting a hostile power; Ukraine asked for military aid, Congress appropriated the funds, but the president held them up until Ukraine delivered on Trump’s request for aid in digging up dirt on Joe Biden, a potential 2020 political opponent.

Donald Trump, with that act, put our national security at risk. It emboldened that hostile power and has sown the seeds of mistrust among our other allies around the world into whether the United States can be trusted to keep its word.

I never thought I would see a day when a presidential scandal could eclipse Watergate. I believe, ladies and gents, that we have reached that stage.

The absolute absence of any public service experience in the president’s background is coming starkly into full view. He has built his entire professional career on self-service, self-enrichment and self-worth. He brought zero understanding of the U.S. Constitution into the Oval Office when he became president. He has made not only a mockery of the office he occupies, he has turned in a frightening display of the consequences of electing someone whose entire professional life has been build on demands that others act according to his whims.

That isn’t how good governance works.

We now are set to pay a painful price for the president’s astonishing ignorance and arrogance.

Get ready for the filthiest campaign in history

I am trying like the dickens to wrap my noggin around an impossible prospect.

That is, I am seeking to comprehend the level of filth that will sully the next campaign for the presidency of the United States. We are getting a whiff of the stench that already is filling the air around the 2020 campaign.

Donald J. Trump’s re-election campaign is getting set to run TV ads on the Fox News Channel that seek to tie Joe Biden, a potential 2020 opponent, to phony allegations of corruption involving the former VP and his son, Hunter, in business dealings in Ukraine.

Think about that for a moment. When have we seen an incumbent president seek to influence a primary outcome in the other political party? I am trying to remember. The closest parallel I can find is 1972, when Republicans sought to surreptitiously undermine Democratic frontrunner Edmund Muskie of Maine while greasing the skids for Democrats to nominate George McGovern of South Dakota. The difference between then and now is that President Nixon’s re-election team did it all under the table … not out front and in plain view of the entire world! The strategy worked: Nixon won re-election in a historic landslide, then got into serious trouble with that thing called “Watergate.”

Meanwhile, the current president is facing the real prospect of being impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives over his admission that he is asking for foreign government help in his re-election effort, not to mention help in digging up dirt on Joe and Hunter Biden.

My fellow Americans, welcome to the new age of American politics, where the president of the United States openly violates his oath of office and then seeks to smear a potential campaign opponent with the hope that the opposing party will nominate someone else.

I hope we all have the stomach for what we are about to witness.

Wake me from this ‘long national nightmare’

Gerald R. Ford ascended to the presidency on Aug. 9, 1974 and declared that “our long national nightmare is over.”

That was then. The Watergate scandal consumed the presidency of Richard Nixon. He was facing certain impeachment by the House of Representatives and equally certain conviction by the Senate. So, he resigned.

President Ford’s declaration comes to mind now as we lapse into another nightmarish stupor. Donald Trump is facing nearly certain impeachment by the House. The acknowledged circumstance appears to make the Watergate burglary and the cover up seem tame by comparison. Trump has admitted to soliciting foreign government help in securing his re-election. Today, he astonished the world by saying China and Ukraine both should investigate business dealings done by former Vice President Joe Biden, a potential opponent of Trump in the 2020 election.

I fear the nightmare this time will not end as cleanly as it did in 1974 when President Nixon resigned.

The House has enough evidence to impeach Donald Trump. The Senate, though, isn’t showing a hint of the courage demonstrated during the Watergate matter. Republican senators are standing behind Trump, who clearly has violated his oath of office by placing his personal political interests ahead of the country’s national interest.

How this crisis ends is anyone’s guess. Trump could follow the Nixon model and resign; he won’t. The president could be impeached and then be acquitted by the Senate; then he’ll run for re-election crowing about being found not guilty of what he has acknowledged doing.

He could be impeached and then convicted; but how might he depart the White House? I have zero faith that he would leave with any sense of shame or humility.

We’re entering another long national nightmarish scenario that doesn’t appear headed toward any sort of clean ending.

It’s not all grim, however.

President Ford also reminded us that “our Constitution works.” It most certainly did in 1974. I am clinging tightly to my belief that it will work yet again this time around.

What does it take for GOP to grasp what Trump is doing?

I live in the middle of Trump Country. My congressman is a young Republican from Plano, Van Taylor; he’s in his first term on the job. My two GOP U.S. senators, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, have been on duty in Washington for some time now.

All three of these gentlemen have been silent on what we now have heard from the president of the United States himself, that he has asked at least two nations — China and Ukraine — to launch investigations into the business dealings of a potential 2020 rival, Joe Biden.

Donald Trump today has confirmed in full view of the entire world what has been alleged for years, that he has sought and accepted re-election help from foreign governments.

Democrats are outraged. Republicans are, um … silent.

What in the world is it going to take for these men and women in Congress to understand the gravity of what the president of the United States has done?

Watergate unfolded more than 40 years ago. A Republican president, Richard Nixon, fought the impeachment battle against Democrats. Then members of his own party began abandoning him. A GOP delegation trooped to the White House to inform President Nixon that he had no support in the Senate to stave off conviction in a trial once the House impeached him. The president then resigned.

We see no evidence of such courage from the current Republican caucus. They are silent. They dismiss not just what a whistleblower has said, but now — with their silence — are turning a deaf ear to what the president himself has acknowledged.

What the hell … ?

How should an impeached POTUS fare on Election Day?

Donald J. Trump is facing an extraordinary political hurdle as he campaigns for re-election as president of the United States.

It has been revealed that Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zellenskiy chatted by phone and that Trump sought to hold up a pledge for military aide to Ukraine over a “favor” that would provide dirt on Joe Biden, a potential political rival.

Trump has been accused now of jeopardizing national security because the president is abusing the power of his office.

Congressional Democrats are hurtling toward impeaching the president. What happens if the House actually impeaches him by, say, Thanksgiving?

Here’s where the hurdle stands in his way: What happens if the House impeaches Trump while he is in the midst of a re-election campaign? This unprecedented territory!

President Nixon won re-election in a landslide in 1972 and then quit the presidency in 1974 as the House was preparing to impeach him over the Watergate burglary/cover up. President Clinton won re-election in 1996 and then got impeached in 1998 because he lied to a grand jury about his relationship with a young White House intern; he, like Nixon, had no more campaigns to wage.

Donald Trump’s predicament is unparalleled. If the House impeaches him, he might be forced to run for re-election while shrouded under the darkest of political clouds.

None of this, of course, presumes what the Senate will do were it to receive the formal complaint against the president. I am wondering whether it will move to conduct a trial quickly or wait until after the election … for reasons I don’t quite understand.

I remain a bit reluctant — although decreasingly so — to push the House to proceed with an impeachment. I still would prefer an election to determine whether Donald Trump stays in office. However, the evidence of wrongdoing, corruption and frightening abuse of power well might compel the House to act rapidly.

Will it impeach the president as he prepares to run for re-election?

If it does, I will wait with bated breath to see how Donald Trump seeks to use an impeachment as a reason to re-elect him.

Hold on. This well might get mighty rough.

Happy Watergate Day, everyone!

I want to wish everyone who gives a crap a happy Watergate Day.

It was 45 years ago today that President Nixon walked out of the White House for the final time as the nation’s leader. He boarded the helicopter, flashed that goofy “V for Victory” salute and then lifted off into oblivion.

Nixon quit the presidency on Aug. 9, 1974 rather than face certain impeachment by the House of Representatives for — dang! — obstruction of justice and other crimes related to the Watergate burglary at the Democratic National Headquarters in June 1972.

Actually, it fell to some Republican heroes to deliver the bad news to the president about his political future. Sen. Barry Goldwater — Mr. Conservative — led a GOP congressional delegation to the White House to tell the president he didn’t have the support to withstand a trial in the Senate. He was toast. A goner. His political goose was being cooked in that moment.

So, Nixon cut his losses and quit.

Thankfully, he had chosen a decent and honest man in Vice President Gerald Ford to succeed him. Ford got the call after another crook, VP Spiro Agnew, quit in the wake of a growing bribery scandal.

President Ford told us “our Constitution works” and that our “long national nightmare is over.” It did and it was. Sadly, we’re in the midst of another nightmarish circumstance that likely won’t end the way the earlier trauma ended 45 years ago. Why? The party of the president lacks the guts it exhibited when those senators spoke “truth to power” to Richard Nixon.

That was then. The here and now is still playing out.

I believe I’ll pray for the country.

Watergate Day has arrived, heralding ‘most stupid scandal’ ever

Happy Watergate Break-in Day, ladies and gentlemen.

It was 47 years ago today that some burglars got caught breaking into the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington, D.C. It turned out eventually that the burglars were acting on behalf of the Committee to Re-Elect the President — aka the hilarious acronym “CREEP.”

The scandalous nature of the burglary took time to unfold before the nation. When it did, all hell broke loose. We learned about how President Nixon sought to, um, “obstruct justice” by seeking to stop the FBI investigation. There were those infamous tape recordings. The Senate seated a select committee to get to the bottom of it.

Once it did, then the House Judiciary Committee launched impeachment proceedings. Then it voted to impeach the president, with several Republican members joining their Democratic colleagues.

Nixon then quit the presidency.

Why is this remarkably pertinent today? Because another scandal is growing in Washington that well could result in another presidential impeachment. As stupid as the current troubles surrounding Donald Trump might seem, they fail the Stupid Test standard established by CREEP.

When the burglars broke into the DNC office on June 17, 1972, the Republican president already was headed toward a smashing re-election victory. The Democrats later that summer nominated Sen. George McGovern, who then went on to lose to Nixon in a landslide. Nixon carried 49 states, rolled up 521 electoral votes, trounced McGovern by 23 percent in the balloting.

Yet the CREEP moguls thought it was worth their time to rifle through the DNC files to look for additional dirt on the Democratic Party and on McGovern.

I cannot fathom a more stupidly conceived crime than the one concocted by CREEP and the Republican Party establishment.

There can be no way yet to determine how the Donald Trump drama is going to end up. I want him out of office at the earliest possible opportunity. Whether it’s through impeachment and conviction in a Senate trial or by the next presidential election that is still about 500-some days away, it makes no difference to me.

In the annals of stupid scandals, though, the stupidity standard was set 47 years ago when those bozos broke into the DNC, only to allow Richard Nixon’s penchant for paranoia to doom his presidency.

Dean testimony provides a preview of what we might see

John Dean sat before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee today to offer the panel some historical context. He wasn’t there as a “fact witness” with specific knowledge of the matters involving Donald Trump’s conduct during the most recent presidential campaign.

However, he was there to provide some historical perspective gleaned from his role as White House counsel during the Watergate scandal of 1973-74.

I agree that Dean was a dubious “expert,” given his own culpability in the crimes committed during President Nixon’s administration.

However, we might have gotten a preview of what we could expect if the House Judiciary panel decides to launch a full-blown impeaching proceeding against Donald Trump.

What might that include? It might — indeed, it likely will — include Republicans on the panel who will seek to denigrate the credibility of every Trump critic who seeks to make the case for impeaching the president.

We heard it today from GOP members who sought to ridicule Dean’s appearance. By “ridicule,” I mean to suggest that they inferred that since Dean wasn’t there to discuss the “facts” of the Trump matter, they would ask him questions about subjects that had nothing to do with the issues at hand. They sought to suggest that as a convicted felon who lost his law license he had no credibility on anything.

Did we hear anyone of the GOP members defending Donald Trump’s character? Did they speak to the president’s honesty, his integrity, his courage, his commitment to public service?

Umm. I didn’t hear it. Did you?

What I heard was an effort to denigrate, disparage and disrespect a witness who took an oath to tell those members of Congress the truth.

I believe it’s good to keep this conduct in mind if the House Judiciary Committee decides to launch impeachment proceedings yet again.

What does John Dean know about all of this?

John Dean was a key player in the previous great constitutional crisis facing the United States of America.

He served as White House counsel during the Nixon administration. He went before the Senate Watergate Committee and declared there was a “cancer growing” on the presidency. The nation got all worked up over that testimony.

Dean eventually would be convicted of crimes and would serve time in prison for his role in covering up the Watergate scandal.

So what does the House Judiciary Committee, which plans this week to open more hearings on the current crisis? It’s going to summon John Dean to testify about what he knows about Robert Mueller’s findings on Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

That’s it! A former Watergate-related criminal is going to talk to us about an investigation into which he has next to zero personal knowledge.

Robert Mueller concluded his probe into alleged collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russians who hacked into our electoral system. He said Trump didn’t “conspire” to collude; he left the door open on matters relating to obstruction of justice.

Dean has expressed dismay at Mueller’s findings. He has emerged as a Trump critic. So, on that score I’m on his side.

Still, my questions remain: What does John Dean bring to this matter? What unique expertise does he have? What is the Judiciary Committee going to hear from Dean that it hasn’t already heard from other peanut-gallery spectators?

Here’s a thought: Forget about Dean and bring Mueller himself to Capitol Hill.

Who will be the GOP ‘hero’?

Bill Press is old enough to remember the Watergate scandal. He also is a fierce Democratic partisan who cheered the resignation of President Nixon in 1974.

He’s now a Democratic Party “elder” who writes commentaries on occasion and speaks for Democrats who are engaged in a fight with another Republican in the White House, Donald Trump.

He wonders now whether there are any Republicans who will stand up to Donald Trump the way they stood up in 1974 to Richard Nixon. Press isn’t holding his breath. Neither are many of the rest of us.

Trump is fighting with House and Senate Democrats over the president’s assertion of executive power/privilege at the expense of the legislative power. Congress is demanding that Trump turn over his tax returns; Democrats want to talk to key White House aides; they are insisting on seeing the full, unredacted report filed by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

Trump is having none of it.

Press wonders whether any of the Republicans in the House and Senate who are standing up for Trump will begin standing up to him if he continues his assault on the constitutional concept of “co-equal power” shared by those three branches of government: Congress, the White House and the courts.

He fears the worst. Press concludes in an essay: “The difference is, under Watergate, there were brave Republicans willing to stand up to their president: Bill Cohen of Maine and Lawrence Hogan of Maryland in the House; Barry Goldwater of Arizona and Hugh Scott of Pennsylvania in the Senate. Today, especially among cowardly Senate Republicans, we’re waiting for the first one with enough guts to stand up against Trump. It looks like it’s going to be a long wait.”

It took a GOP congressional delegation to troop to the White House to tell President Nixon he didn’t have the votes to withstand a Senate trial once the House impeached him. That’s when Nixon quit.

Is there a hero among the current crop of GOP lawmakers? I fear not.