Since the break-in of the Democratic National Committee offices in the Watergate complex hit the half-century mark, pundits have decided to do a comparison. Watergate versus The Big Lie.
If you are too young to remember or weren’t near the United States at the time, it may be difficult to understand the earlier event. The Watergate hearings were so unexpectedly shocking that people were watching them for double-digit hours every week that they aired.
After what was termed a ‘third-rate burglary” in June 1972, both the Washington Post and CBS News were perceived as having a vendetta against President Richard Nixon. He was re-elected president, carrying every state except Massachusetts, plus the District of Columbia.
Yet, by May 1973, the Senate hearings under conservative Sam Ervin (D-NC) began. They were riveting, and almost everyone was watching. “‘Never have I enjoyed watching television more than in the last two weeks,’ one Washington Post letter writer testified, ‘with the spectacle of high human drama interwoven with the finest possible example of the democratic process at work unfolding before my eyes for hours on end, with no rehearsal, no canned laughter, very little commentary (none needed!), and, best of all, almost no commercial interruption!'”
A “fascination of the hearings was the questioning of young Nixon aides who left senators incredulous with their explanations that ‘ends-justifies-the-means’ morality had become semiofficial White House policy.” Ultimately, with Republicans recognizing that, indeed, Nixon WAS a crook, RMN resigned in August 1974.
Compare and contrast
djt was impeached a second time in January 2021, but acquitted by the Senate the next month. I thought I had heard all I needed to know back then. But the manner in which the January 6 committee laid out the details was stunning to me.
The first hearing showed how the Big Lie led to the insurrection at the Capitol. It was even more brutalizing than I’d seen before. And BTW, here are some companies that Empower the “Big Lie”.
Hearing number two made it clear that 45 KNEW that the claims of fraud and conspiracies were crap. He may have chosen to ignore White House lawyers, campaign lawyers, and his staff. AND he profited monetarily, something I noted at the time, from gullible supporters told they were helping to fight corruption. Nah, the corruption was a quarter of a BILLION dollars, much of it going to his hotels.
Regarding the third hearing, I’d like to say here, poor Mike Pence. I’d like to, but the former veep was such a sycophant. Yes, he withstood the great campaign to get him to violate the Constitution by nixing Biden’s electoral college votes. I’d heard it before, but djt’s assertion that maybe rioters were right when they chanted “Hang Mike Pence” was chilling What kind of person says that? The angry mob came within 40 feet of the vice president. djt called Pence a “wimp” and “pussy” that morning, using a tone Ivanka Trump had never heard her father use towards the veep.
I didn’t know that former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who I had despised policywise, was one of the folks floating the idea of removing djt via the 25th Amendment, but Pence rejected it.
State election officials were up for hearing number four. They were pressured by djt or surrogates such as Rudy Giuliani to “find” votes for Trump and/or invalidate Biden electors. And when they refused, they were harassed.
A truck was driven through the neighborhood of Rusty Bowers (R), the speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives, playing a recording accusing him of being a pedophile. The wife of Brad Raffensperger (R), Georgia’s secretary of state, received “sexualized” threats by text.
Black, female poll workers Wandrea “Shaye” Moss and her mother, Ruby Freeman, were called out by name by djt and Giuliani in a ploy that was both violent and racist. Ms. Freeman said there is “nowhere I feel safe. The president of the United States is supposed to represent every American. Not to target one.”
We know djt planned to declare premature victory even before election day. Were Supreme Court justices considering joining a scheme to overturn the election? What does Ginni Thomas have to say regarding her conversations with John Eastman, the law professor who cooked up the false and illegal strategy?
Department of Justice officials described at hearing number five how djt hounded them to pursue his false election narrative. If he had replaced the agency’s leader with a more compliant, unqualified person, there would have been mass resignations at DOJ.
Multiple Republican members of Congress requested pardons after January 6, including Mo Brooks, Matt Gaetz, Andy Biggs, Louie Gohmert, Scott Perry, and Marjorie Taylor Greene.
No big deal?
For me, January 6 is far, far worse than Watergate. More than one analyst suggested that Watergate had, in the end, a positive outcome because “the system worked.” That’s a reasonable assertion.
But lots of Americans are convinced that January 6 was just a vigorous exercise of freedom of speech. Some folks can be easily conned. And/or members of Congress and other officials are feeling beholden to djt. Hell, Rusty Bowers said that he would vote for djt in 2024 if he were running.
And it’s not over. Election denier Jim Marchant is the Republican nominee for Nevada secretary of state. He’s hardly the only one who puts the integrity of future elections at stake. For instance, current members of Congress.
“If I become president someday, if I decide to do it, I will be looking at [the Jan. 6 rioters] very, very seriously for pardons — very, very seriously,” djt said. “Should I decide to do it, we’re going to be one people and one nation.”
Not about partisan revenge
The Boston Globe says There is no question: Merrick Garland must put Trump on trial. “If the former president and his allies can get by with nary a scratch after plotting an overthrow of the US government, then what message will that send? Prosecuting Trump is not about partisan revenge; it’s one of several necessary steps that the federal government ought to take in order to meaningfully reform the presidency and defend American democracy.
“Now that the United States has gone through one failed attempt at overthrowing the government — instigated by none other than a man who was president at the time — it is more crucial than ever to show future occupants of the White House that breaking the law in the Oval Office will not stand.
“But there is also another reason for the Department of Justice to hold anyone who participated in trying to overthrow the government, including Trump, accountable: Not only would it deter a future president from breaking the law in such a brazen way, it would also discourage their cronies and sycophants from playing along. Government officials at any level must be shown that they can be held personally liable for abusing their power.”
Blowhards such as Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), who’s another Big Liar, suggest that he’ll investigate Hunter Biden next year if the GOP takes back the Senate and if Garland acts against djt. Here’s my working theory: Johnson will investigate Hunter Biden REGARDLESS of whether Garland acts, so it’s a non-issue.