Thursday, April 12, 2018

April 12, 2018--Watergate History Lesson

Who knows. 

Before I finish drafting this we may be at war with Syria and Russia; Paul Ryan will have a $5.0-million-a-year job with Goldman Sachs; Devin Nunes will be in line to become the new Speaker of the House; Ron Rosenstein, Jeff Sessions, and Robert Mueller will have been fired; the tariffs we and China have been spatting about will have been rolled back or ramped up; Ron Pruitt will be the new Attorney General; and North Korea will have cancelled the anticipated meeting with Donald Trump. 

And, I almost forgot, Michael Cohen will have "flipped" and will become Mueller's latest star witness. No more "taking a bullet" for Trump for Cohen. However, there will be nothing new to report about Stormy Daniels. 

But the day is still young.

In case we still have a country left when I get up from typing, allow me to again remind those younger than I (which is about everyone) how Richard Nixon's Watergate troubles ended.

As the noose was tightening on him the tapes of White House conversations were subpoenaed by special prosecutor Archibald Cox. Nixon resisted releasing them. He ordered Attorney General Eliot Richardson to fire Cox. He refused and was fired. 

Nixon next ordered Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus, second in command at the Department of Justice, to fire Cox. He too refused and, on the evening of October 20, 1973, was fired.

The Saturday Night Massacre was under way.

Third in line was Solicitor General Robert Bork. Nixon ordered him to fire Cox and, after giving it some thought, ever-ambitious Bork agreed to do so. Cox was fired and quickly cleared out his office. But he did speak to the press and in an impassioned statement asked, "Whether ours shall continue to be a government of laws and not men is now for Congress and ultimately the American people to decide."

Nixon next, with Bork's backing, attempted to thwart the appointment of a new special prosecutor, but the courts ruled that the special prosecutor had the power to prosecute the president and also ruled that Cox had been illegally fired. He thus ordered the president to appoint someone to take Cox's place. 

Reluctantly, Nixon then appointed Leon Jaworski, who continued the investigation in a fair and impartial way and ultimately cooperated with the House of Representative's Judiciary Committee which moved to impeach Nixon.

But before the committee could complete its work Nixon, urged to do so by senior Republican members of Congress, on August 9, 1974, resigned the presidency.


Above all be patient. It took 26 months from the time of the Watergate break in to Nixon's resignation. It took 15 months from the time Cox was appointed and Nixon resigned.

Mueller and his team have been at their investigation for only 11 months. I know most of us would like this work to be completed and Trump back in Trump Tower (assuming the fire is out) or the Metropolitan Correctional Center. But none of this will happen quickly.

I have been saying for some time here that it will all come down to November's midterm election. If the Democrats take control of the House, Trump will be publicly investigated (regardless of Mueller's fate) and soon after that impeached. However, he is unlikely to be found guilty by two-thrids of the 100 senators, but his impeachment alone should lead either to a Nixon-like resignation or, if he seeks reelection, defeat at the polls in November 2020.

Which means, beginning now, that we all have to redouble our efforts to elect Democrats this fall.

Archibald Cox

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