Trump’s Russian Scandal Vs. Nixon’s Watergate

There was no way to watch the events unfold in Washington this morning and not think back over the decades, and mentally land in the 1970’s with President Nixon dealing with Watergate.   After all, there has been nothing as troubling to the nation, or the presidency, since those dark days when the country came to know of the existence of a taping system at the White House and then the evidence of Nixon working to obstruct justice.

With the news today that President Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his former business partner Rick Gates were indicted from the investigation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller we now know there is a most serious intention to get to the facts.   All are aware that Manafort is not the end game, but the means to the end.  There will be strong attempts to alert him to the wisdom of coming clean and providing information about the bigger fish up-stream.  And the Mueller team, as has been noted this summer on CP, has employed some men who excel at this very thing.

While it is easy to skip many months ahead in my thinking and see the legal quagmire getting closer to the Oval Office, I am also fully aware these investigations can be a many-year effort at a painstakingly and tedious pace.  But as I sift through the news reports flowing today I can not help but think what might happen as the end of Trump’s days in office draw closer.  That is why my mind takes me back to 1974 and it is a point worth considering.

For all of Nixon’s darker sides, which have been well-documented and written about, it also needs to be said at the end of the day he still believed in the rule of law.  Nixon did the right thing when some wondered if there would be a truly horrific Constitutional crisis should the Supreme Court order to turn over the tapes not be met with complete obedience.  He knew by turning over the tapes his presidency was over.  Yet he complied with the rule of law.

Meanwhile President Trump has shown his disdain for the Constitution, his lack of understanding or faith in our judicial system, and his hatred by troubling attacks on reporters in this nation.  Those characteristics all lead me to think when Trump is surrounded and facing his last legal stand before falling from power we all may wish to have someone like Nixon in office.  Nixon, after all,  at the end of his hold on power always knew the will of the people, as demonstrated through the legal and political process, is what had to be adhered too.

I do not think Trump will have the same temperament as Nixon had when being forced to leave the White House.

There is another stark difference between Nixon and Trump at the time of their legal troubles, and that has to do with the way their perceptions of their role in the world varies.

Nixon was most aware of the limitations he could make in the arena of international affairs as the lawyers and congress investigated Watergate, and even knew resigning would be best for American interests.  He certainly felt he had the brains and concepts to make the world a better place but also realized how his situation was also posing problems for ongoing policy goals.

Meanwhile Trump is dismissive of the role Russia played in the 2016 election, in the face of overwhelming evidence.  He pretends that his own image is more vital than the needs of America.  Even today former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper  stated that no matter how much Trump rants about the “Russia hoax,” the 2016 hacking was not only real and aimed at electing Trump but constituted a major victory for a dangerous foreign adversary.

Nixon would have been deeply concerned about such a fact.  But then Nixon had a higher calling to the country he served.  He proved that by listening to the words from the Supreme Court.

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