Saturday, May 13, 2017


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Unless YOU really have been completely under a rock for the past week or so, then; you DO know that on Tuesday, May 9, 2017, U.S. President DONALD JOHN TRUMP FIRED U.S. FEDERAL BUREAU Of INVESTIGATION (F.B.I.) Director JAMES COMEY!!!

As a result of the horrendous WATERGATE SCANDAL, on Friday, August 9, 1974, RICHARD MILHOUS NIXON Resigned From The OFFICE Of 37th President of The UNITED STATES Of AMERICA.

The ATLANTIC MAGAZINE Journalist JAMES FALLOWS covered WATERGATE, and he is now covering COMEYGATE.


1. The underlying offense:

At some point in the coverage of every scandal you’ll hear the chestnut “It’s always the cover-up, never the crime.” This refers of course to the historical reality that scandal-bound figures make more problems by denying or lying about their misdeeds than they would if they had come clean from the start.

And what is alleged this time? Nothing less than attacks by an authoritarian foreign government on the fundamentals of American democracy, by interfering with an election—and doing so as part of a larger strategy that included parallel interference in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and elsewhere. At worst, such efforts might actually have changed the election results. At least, they were meant to destroy trust in democracy. Not much of this is fully understood or proven, but the potential stakes are incomparably greater than what happened during Watergate, crime and cover-up alike.

2. The blatancy of the interference:

A climactic event of the Watergate saga, the “Saturday Night Massacre” of October 1973, is too complex to lay out in full. (More here.) Its essence was a nearly-last-gasp attempt by Nixon to prevent a special prosecutor from getting full access to the Oval Office tapes whose existence had recently become known.

Nothing Donald Trump has done, on the campaign trail or in office, has expressed awareness of, or respect for, established rules. Nixon’s private comments could be vile, but nothing he said in public is comparable to Trump’s dismissing James Comey as a “showboat".

3. The nature of the president:

Richard Nixon was a dark but complex figure. Of his darkness, this obituary/denunciation by Hunter S. Thompson provides a nice overview. Of his complexity, assessments from Garry Wills’s seminal Nixon Agonistes in 1970 to John Farrell’s Nixon: A Life just this spring emphasize the depth and sophistication of his political and strategic intelligence. He was paranoid, resentful, bigoted, and a crook. He was also deeply knowledgeable, strategically prescient, publicly disciplined—and in some aspects of his domestic policy strikingly “progressive” by today’s standards (for instance, his creation of the Environmental Protection Agency).

Donald Trump, by contrast—well, read the transcripts of his two most recent interviews, and weep. He is impulsive, and ignorant, and apparently beyond the reach of any control, even his own.

4. The resiliency of the fabric of American institutions:

The Saturday Night Massacre acquired that name because of the number of people involved. When Archibald Cox, a famous Harvard Law School professor whom Congress had named the Watergate special prosecutor, rejected the “Stennis compromise” and insisted on getting the raw White House tapes himself, Nixon ordered his attorney general, Elliot Richardson, to fire Cox. Richardson—a Republican, a Boston Brahmin, a World War II hero—refused to obey the order, and resigned. The next in the chain of command was William Ruckelshaus, also a Republican, who had been the founding head of the EPA and then was Richardson’s deputy at the Justice Department. Ruckelshaus also refused to obey the order and resigned. Eventually it fell to the solicitor general, a not-yet-famous figure named Robert Bork, to carry out the order and fire Cox.

What would it take for today’s institutions to show that they are as healthy and resilient as they were even during the troubled Watergate era? History isn’t fair, and much of the burden of answering that question falls right now on one man. That is of course Rod Rosenstein, the newly confirmed deputy attorney general who, because of Jeff Sessions’s supposed recusal from the Russian-affairs investigations, is nominally in charge of them.

5. The cravenness of party leaders:

The Republicans of the Watergate era stuck with Richard Nixon as long as they could, but they acted all along as if larger principles were at stake. This I remember more clearly than any other aspect of that era, because the very first article I did for a big national magazine was a profile for Esquire, published not long after Nixon had resigned, about one of the very conservative Republicans who had finally chosen principle over party. That Republican was Charles Wiggins, a staunchly right-wing representative from Southern California who was on the House Judiciary Committee (and later became a Ninth Circuit appeals-court judge).

Today’s party lineup in the Senate is of course 52–48, in favor of the Republicans. Thus a total of three Republican senators have it within their power to change history, by insisting on an honest, independent investigation of what the Russians have been up do and how the mechanics of American democracy can best defend themselves. (To spell it out, three Republicans could join the 48 Democrats and Independents already calling for investigations, and constitute a Senate majority to empower a genuinely independent inquiry.) So far they have fallen in line with their party’s leader, Mitch McConnell, who will be known in history for favoring party above all else.  


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