IMMEDIATE RELEASE 26 September 2019
Today’s Events in Historical Perspective
America’s Longest-Running Column Founded 1932
Here we go again
By Douglas Cohn and Eleanor Clift
WASHINGTON – Echoes of Watergate are reverberating off the walls in the halls of Congress. An impeachment inquiry was launched by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., though she and the Democrats would be well advised to focus on the word “inquiry” instead of “impeachment” until sufficient evidence has been accumulated to sway an always-skeptical public and an even more skeptical Republican-controlled Senate.
Impeachment of course does not mean removal, and the Republican-controlled Senate is unlikely to provide the two-thirds super majority needed to remove President Donald Trump from office.
Only two Senate Republicans, Mitt Romney of Utah and Ben Sasse of Nebraska, have said publicly they are troubled by Trump’ apparent leveraging of U.S. aid to Ukraine in exchange for its willingness to provide unsavory information about his potential Democratic opponent, former Vice Pres. Joe Biden and his son.
If the House of Representatives does vote for articles of impeachment, the end of the year will be the unofficial deadline to send them on to the U.S. Senate. It is a short window, because after that the balance of opinion will favor allowing the November election, rather than the Senate be the deciding entity.
Trump’s effort to extort Ukraine to help his re-election is potentially worse than Watergate since it involves foreign powers. Ukraine is actively engaged in a war with Russia and the country relies on U.S. aid and weaponry to resist ongoing Russian incursions.
Trump has shown no interest in holding Russian President Putin accountable for his previous incursion, the seizing of Crimea from Ukraine in 2016. Instead, he shrugs off the illegal annexation as Putin “out-smarting” President Obama who failed to stop him.
Why do Democrats think it’s a game changer that Trump tried to enlist the Ukrainian president in helping undermine Biden? Judging by the majority of House Democrats now favoring impeachment, the revelations about a “favor” included in notes that summarized Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Zelensky proved decisive.
Pelosi authorized the ongoing investigations of six House committees looking into these latest charges plus Trump’s payoffs to women and his refusal to turn over his tax records as required by law to the House Ways and Means committee. He is also facing a potential impeachment charge related to violations of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause portions that disallow foreign gifts or extra compensation from the U.S. government.
During the Watergate era, Republicans stood behind President Richard Nixon until they learned of the existence of a White House taping system. An incriminating tape known as “the smoking gun” implicated Nixon in the cover-up of the break-in of the Democratic Party headquarters.
The whistleblower who reported on Trump’s abuse of power with Ukraine also revealed the existence of a separate White House computer server where the recording of the July 25th phone conversation between Trump and Zelensky can be found.
Reading about Trump asking for a favor and hearing him say the words is a difference in magnitude, and representatives and senators will want to hear for themselves the incriminating recording, just as they did during the Watergate hearings.
Meanwhile, Trump is on the attack, meeting with U.S. embassy personnel in New York Thursday morning, Trump called the whistleblower’s source “almost a spy” and his/her actions treasonous. “You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart? Right? The spies and treason, we used to handle it a little differently than we do now.”
Nixon had his silent majority, but once Watergate closed in, they were gone. Trump has his army of red hats, partisans fueled by Fox News and a conservative media apparatus, and they’re a long way from giving up on the guy who warned about a fictional Deep State, fake news, and rigged elections; the guy who promised to make America great – if not civil – again. And, even Nixon never spoke about hanging Woodward and Bernstein.
Douglas Cohn’s latest books are World War 4: Nine Scenarios (endorsed by seven flag officers) and The President’s First Year: The Only School for Presidents Is the Presidency.
© 2019 U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.
Distributed by U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.
END WASHINGTON MERRY-GO-ROUND
IMMEDIATE RELEASE 26 September 2019