One of the TV talky-talks unearthed John Dean the other day.
Dean, White House counsel to President Nixon, was asked about parallels between Watergate and what’s going on in Trumpistan.
Watergate brought an inglorious end to the Nixon presidency. Unless Donald is impeached or removed from office via Article 25, any such parallels are specious at best.
Although his death scandal was named for a break-in at the Democratic National Headquarters, it wasn’t the original crime that brought down Tricky Dick, it was his involvement in the cover-up. The central question of the impeachment process was, “What did the president know, and when did he know it?”
The central question in today’s investigative process is, “What is the president hiding and why is he hiding it?” We don’t even have an original crime — yet. All we’ve got is what appears to be a cover-up.
Cover a fire and you get smoke. The joint report of our intelligence agencies found smoke, reason to believe that the Russian government not only spied on the inner workings of our presidential politics, but tried to influence the election on behalf of Donald. They offered no real evidence. One might be inclined to dismiss their conclusions, except . . . .
. . .why did Gen. Flynn lie about his contacts with the Russian ambassador? If they were innocent and proper, as the regime insists, why did he feel compelled to dissemble? What was he hiding? Whom was he shielding?
. . .why was Jeff Sessions less than forthcoming about his contacts with foreign agents? If the contacts were lawful and proper, why did he not disclose them fully when asked about them? What was he hiding, whom was he shielding?
. . . and most obviously, why will Donald not make public those damned tax returns? Given his massive ego, his reluctance was ascribed by some critics to fear of having it revealed that he’s not as rich as he says he is. That theory seems to have been dispelled by the recent leak of two pages of his 2005 tax returns. He paid taxes that year on more than $150 million of income.
Others have suggested that he is suppressing the returns because they would show that he paid no taxes at all over several years. But that doesn’t hold water, either. Donald boasted during the campaign that if he paid no taxes, it simply shows “how smart I am.” If the returns merely proved how smart he is, he’d release them yesterday. What is he hiding?
The extraordinary testimony Monday of the FBI director and the national intelligence director, confirming that a sitting president is under investigation for possible illegal dealings with a foreign power, plows new ground for presidential scandal. Watergate and Teapot Dome, for example, involved wrong-doing by presidential henchmen, not the chief executives themselves.
Donald says he has no business deals in Russia, that his real estate deals with individual Russians have been perfectly legal, and that neither Flynn nor Sessions nor Paul Manafort nor Jared Kushner nor Rex Tillerson nor anyone else in his coterie has colluded in any criminal way with Russia or Russians.