By Wornie Reed, Ph.D.
Trumpgate – if I may call it that – is worse than Watergate. Nixon’s primary offenses were directing the break-in of the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee, lying about it, abusing his powers, and obstructing justice.
On the other hand, Trump’s offenses were loosely all of that and more, and that includes international operations that affected the country’s security. See below how U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson describes some of these activities during her sentencing hearing for Rick Gates.
“Mr. Gates provided information, not hearsay, but information based on his personal knowledge, meetings he attended, conversations in which he was a participant and information verified with contemporaneous accounts of numerous, undeniable contacts and communications between individuals associated with the Trump presidential campaign and individuals associated with Russia and Ukraine.
“One cannot possibly maintain this was all exculpatory information. It included first-hand information about confidential campaign polling data being transmitted at the direction at the head of the campaign to be shared with Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs. It included first-hand information about a meeting within the campaign concerning attending a meeting with Russians for the sole stated purpose of providing information that could be used against Hillary Clinton. And it included first-hand information about claims made by an individual close to the campaign to be in contact with WikiLeaks concerning the release of e-mails obtained when the DNC e-mails were hacked.”
Trump’s offenses were worse than Nixon’s, but let’s key on the Republicans in Congress. They are much worse than the Republican Congressman during Watergate. Back in the Watergate era, it seemed that a few of the Republicans could not be exceeded in their support of a wrongdoing president.
For example, in 1974, the House Judiciary Committee had not finished its impeachment inquiry report when President Nixon resigned. However, when the report was submitted a few days later, for the record, 412 voted yes to accept the report, and astonishingly three Congressmen voted “no,” which meant they did not wish the report to be part of the record.
Who were these holdouts? Rachel Maddow reminds us of who they were. Two of these men were Dixiecrats–Southern white Democrats, still resisting integration. One of these men, Otto Passman from Louisiana, contended that Nixon was the greatest president this country ever had. If this seems absurd to you, please see the racism in Nixon’s Southern Strategy for his rationale.
That brings us to the third objector to the report going in the record, Earl Landgrebe, one of the oddest characters to ever serve in the House of Representatives. He was a quintessential contrarian, once voting against cancer research because “even if we cure cancer, that would just change which way you’re going to go.” This guy once voted no on a quorum vote, which meant he was saying he was not there.
The strong support for Nixon changed when he was ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court to hand over material he was keeping secret – the White House tapes containing conversations about coverups (obstructing justice). Most of Nixon’s strongest supporters changed and came out against him, that is, except Landgrebe and his two fellow objectors.
During the week of Nixon’s resignation, Landgrebe famously said in an interview, “Don’t confuse me with facts, I’ve got a closed mind.” See the following excerpts from an interview with Landgrebe.
REPORTER: “So even if he is guilty of obstruction of justice, you do not think he should be removed?”
LANDGREBE ( R), Indiana: “Absolutely not. Not until somebody proves there’s damage other than just offending some legalistic congressman who contends that the president lied to me. When you prove damage, When you prove damage to this great country. When you prove that we’ve lost some freedom. When you prove that part of our country has been taken over [by] a foreign power. When you prove some damage, then you’ve got a case. But there’s no damage here that can be proven. “
Those statements suggest that Mr. Landgrebe would be more disposed to impeach Trump than any current Congressional Republican, because his criteria were reached. Undeniably a foreign power, Russia, took over “part of our country” when they infiltrated and influenced our election in 2016. The Trump campaign collaborated with them in that effort. And “damage” was done.
What if Congress could get the current White House secrets–those hidden transcripts of Trump’s conversations with Putin? Maybe that would provide the real test of comparison between Landgrebe and current Republicans.