Here at the Caffeinated Politics desk Donald Trump impeachment proceedings are being followed with email updates, radio, and newspapers. If there were not enough current impeachment proceedings to ponder there are also the obituaries coming in from that other historical impeachment period when President Nixon and Watergate made for headlines.
Tom Railsback, an eight-term Illinois congressman who forged what he called a “fragile bipartisan coalition” between his fellow Republicans and the Democratic majority on the House Judiciary Committee in 1974 to draft articles of impeachment against President Richard M. Nixon, died on Monday in Mesa, Ariz. He was 87.
On July 27, 1974, the judiciary committee voted 27 to 11, with 6 of the panel’s 17 Republicans joining all 21 Democrats, to send to the full House an article of impeachment. The article accused the president of unlawful tactics that constituted a “course of conduct or plan” to obstruct the investigation of the break-in at the offices of the Democratic opposition in the Watergate complex in Washington by a White House team of burglars.
“Railsback and Walter Flowers, a Democrat, basically created the coalition that was necessary to make the House Judiciary Committee vote a bipartisan one,” Michael Koncewicz, the author of “They Said No to Nixon: Republicans Who Stood Up to the President’s Abuses of Power” (2018), wrote in an email.
Also, there is news of the death of a ‘plumber’ from the Nixon era.
Egil Krogh, who as part of President Richard M. Nixon’s staff was one of the leaders of the secret “Plumbers” unit that broke into the office of Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist, a prelude to the Watergate burglary that brought down the Nixon presidency, died on Saturday in Washington. He was 80.
His son Peter said the cause was heart failure.
In November 1973, Mr. Krogh, known as Bud, pleaded guilty to “conspiracy against rights of citizens” for his role in the September 1971 break-in at the office of Dr. Lewis Fielding in Beverly Hills, Calif.
The Plumbers, a group of White House operatives, were tasked with plugging leaks of confidential material, which had bedeviled the Nixon administration. Mr. Ellsberg, a military analyst, had been responsible for the biggest leak of all: passing the Pentagon Papers, the top-secret government history of the Vietnam War, to The New York Times earlier that year.
The Plumbers were hoping to get information about Mr. Ellsberg’s mental state that would discredit him, but they found nothing of importance related to him.
In 2007, to mark the 35th anniversary of the Watergate break-in (in which he played no part), Mr. Krogh wrote an essay for The Times about the Fielding break-in, which he believed had established the mind-set for Watergate.
“The premise of our action was the strongly held view within certain precincts of the White House that the president and those functioning on his behalf could carry out illegal acts with impunity if they were convinced that the nation’s security demanded it,” he wrote. “As President Nixon himself said to David Frost during an interview six years later, ‘When the president does it, that means it is not illegal.’ To this day the implications of this statement are staggering.” (emphasis mine.)