The Ques­tion

Are the Trump scan­dals the new Water­gate?

The Irish Times - Weekend Review - - NEWS REVIEW -

The wave of scan­dals that have con­sumed the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion must be the only po­lit­i­cal con­tro­versy in the past 45 years that hasn’t had the “gate” suf­fix in­stantly added, but oth­er­wise, the se­ries of events is bear­ing an un­canny re­sem­blance to Water­gate, the scan­dal that brought down Richard Nixon.

In­deed, the com­par­isons are so nu­mer­ous we might as well just start cast­ing the re­make of

All The Pres­i­dent’s Men right now. Both in­volved the theft of doc­u­ments from the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee (a break-in at the Water­gate ho­tel in 1972; a digital breach of DNC servers in 2016), and both in­volved at­tempts by the US pres­i­dent to fire a se­nior fig­ure lead­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion in to po­ten­tial wrong­do­ing (spe­cial pros­e­cu­tor Archibald Cox in 1973, FBI di­rec­tor James Comey in 2017).

Ad­mit­tedly, Nixon could have brought the whole Water­gate saga to a much faster con­clu­sion if he had just ad­mit­ted to at­tempt­ing to ob­struct jus­tice, as Trump did last week dur­ing an NBC in­ter­view. In­stead, Water­gate in­ves­ti­ga­tors had to sub­poena Nixon’s Oval Of­fice record­ings to find the “smok­ing gun” ad­mis­sion. Vet­eran po­lit­i­cal writer James Fal­lows of the

At­lantic wrote this week that Trump’s scan­dals are ac­tu­ally more se­ri­ous than those of Nixon dur­ing Water­gate, point­ing out that the al­leged crime – col­lud­ing with Rus­sia to un­der­mine a demo­cratic elec­tion – is much worse than try­ing to dig up dirt on po­lit­i­cal ri­vals. “The po­ten­tial stakes are in­com­pa­ra­bly greater than what hap­pened dur­ing Water­gate,” Fal­lows ar­gues.

This has all led to fevered spec­u­la­tion about how Trump might be im­peached, and it is not an easy process – the Repub­li­can-con­trolled Congress would need to vote for it, for a start, then two-thirds of the Se­nate would need to agree to re­move him. Hopes of vice-pres­i­dent Mike Pence and his cab­i­net re­mov­ing him un­der the statutes of the 25th amend­ment still seem fan­ci­ful.

Trump is un­likely to re­sign in the man­ner Nixon did, but at this point there is no fore­see­able way in which Trump’s pres­i­dency can­not end in ig­nominy, what­ever the na­ture of his de­par­ture.

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