Younger Americans do not understand what is happening in the nation’s capital these days, which has put them in a daze. Those of my generation have been here before. A total of SIXTY NINE members of the Nixxon administration were found guilty of crimes, with many going to prison for committing those crimes. New Jersey Senator Cory Booker said recently, “We are in perilous times.” An excellent article explaining the situation appeared today at Salon. I provide excerpts only. Please click on the link and read the entire article.
Defeat is inevitable. Everybody knows it, even Trump
Washington’s legal immune system is about to expel an infection from the body politic
By Lucian K. Truscott IV
I remember the day I first realized that Richard Nixon was doomed and one way or another would be removed from office. It was deep in the winter of 1974, I had been working for months on my own little corner of the Watergate story, and I was on Capitol Hill to meet one of the deputy counsels on the Senate Watergate Committee. I had been given an address on Capitol Hill for their offices, and when I arrived there I found myself standing outside an old movie theater. I was confused. This was supposed to be the office of the Senate Watergate Committee! I stopped somebody on the street and showed them my notebook where I had written down the address and asked them if I was in the right place. Yes, the passerby said. You’re at the right place. They’re right in there.
I entered through the theater’s front door and found no one in the lobby, so I wandered further inside. The theater wasn’t a theater anymore. It had been transformed into a makeshift office space. Fluorescent lamps hung down from the theater’s high ceiling illuminating a rabbit warren of cubicles packed with file cabinets and office storage boxes and desks buried beneath piles of paper. Phone lines and electrical wires were rigged into overhead conduits and dropped into the cubicles. Phones rang constantly, answered in a cacophony of voices by dozens of lawyers and investigators and researchers and staff assistants and research assistants and interns.
On my way over to Capitol Hill, I had stopped off to see a friend at the Washington Post. Its newsroom was a seething pit of activity. Woodward and Bernstein were there, of course, surrounded by dozens of other reporters working the phones, rifling through files, rushing off to interview sources. Elsewhere on Capitol Hill the House Judiciary Committee was staffing up with lawyers and investigators and researchers, getting ready for impeachment hearings. Only a few blocks away were the offices of Watergate Special Prosecutor Leon Jaworski, who had been appointed by Congress after Nixon had fired the first special prosecutor, Archibald Cox, in the infamous “Saturday Night Massacre.”
Jaworski’s offices were packed with prosecutors and staff assistants and researchers and experts in constitutional law, and they were interviewing witnesses and preparing subpoenas and scheduling testimony before the grand jury and filing indictments and announcing that this White House aide, or that campaign official, had pleaded guilty to one crime or another and was cooperating with the investigation. Already, Nixon campaign aide Herbert Porter had pleaded guilty to perjury, and Nixon’s personal lawyer, Herbert Kalmbach, had pleaded guilty to two charges of illegal campaign activities. The indictments of seven more of Nixon’s men were on the way: John Mitchell, H.R. Haldeman, John Ehrlichman, Charles Colson, Gordon C. Strachan, Robert Mardian and Kenneth Parkinson. Now the special prosecutor was getting ready to subpoena the White House tapes. The end game had begun.
That was the day I knew that Nixon was finished. Not because of the suitcase filled with cash from Bebe Rebozo’s bank headed for a casino in the Bahamas. Not because of the firings, resignations and indictments of figures from the Nixon reelection committee and White House. Not because it was inevitable that Nixon would have to give up the tapes, and the tapes would probably hang him.
As I stood there at the rear of the theater on Capitol Hill watching the staff of the Senate Watergate Committee at work, I realized that I was witnessing Washington’s immune system, and it had detected an infection. The offices of the Senate Watergate Committee, and the special prosecutor, and the Judiciary Committee, and the Washington Post, and the New York Times and the AP and UPI and the networks — all of them were flooding the bloodstream of the nation’s capital with antibodies focused on one thing: ridding the place of Richard Nixon.
Nixon had been in office for more than four years when on June 17, 1972, the so-called Plumbers working for the Nixon reelection committee, at the direction of the White House, were arrested at the Watergate office building in the process of bugging the Democratic National Committee Headquarters. Donald Trump was in office a grand total of four days when his national security adviser, Michael Flynn, committed a crime when he lied to the FBI about his contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the Trump campaign and transition.
See a pattern here? Resignations. Firings. Indictments. Hearings. Special prosecutor. Leaks. Media hordes. And all over Washington, D.C., offices filled with eager beaver investigators burrowing into every corner of the Trump campaign, the Trump transition, the Trump White House and Trump’s business empire.
Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller has worked his way through the White House staff and the Trump campaign, taking testimony from one witness after another, just like the Watergate special prosecutor worked his way through the Nixon White House and campaign. There is only one witness left to interview: Donald J. Trump.
There is one difference between the two cases. Special Prosecutor Leon Jaworski never questioned Richard Nixon about his role in the Watergate burglary and cover-up. He didn’t have to. On July 24, 1974, the Supreme Court decided in United States v. Nixon that the president had to release the White House tapes. Fifteen days later, the inevitable happened. Facing impeachment and the probability of being prosecuted after leaving office, Nixon made a deal for a pardon and resigned.
Now Washington’s immune system is about to expel yet another infection from the body politic. The end game is here. Even Trump knows it.
Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist and screenwriter. He has covered stories such as Watergate, the Stonewall riots and wars in Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels and several unsuccessful motion pictures. He has three children, lives on the East End of Long Island and spends his time Worrying About the State of Our Nation and madly scribbling in a so-far fruitless attempt to Make Things Better. He can be followed on Facebook at The Rabbit Hole and on Twitter @LucianKTruscott.