On the one hand, Watergate was merely a cover up of a second rate burglary, the cover up being the crime that brought Nixon down. But, on the other, Watergate was also a prosecution of the political culture that made the second rate burglary a viable political option – committing an actual crime to undermine your political opponents.
That “Do ANYTHING To Win” mentality didn’t die with Watergate. Guys like Roger Stone, Paul Manafort and Lee Atwater kept it very much alive. So did Roger Ailes. Ailes openly said that he created Fox News as a mechanism to prevent any future Watergates – that is, prevent the press from STOPPING the dark, authoritarian politics behind Watergate because the press (well, Fox News anyway) would be stoking the flames that made Watergate possible.
Fox News was created to foster the culture of Republican political corruption. And Fox News had an awful lot to do with the rise of Donald J. Trump.
Roger Stone, too, has never been shy about his love for Nixon. FFS, the bastard even got a tattoo of Nixon on his back.
The joke will be on Roger though. I bet inmates are already lining up to meet Roger when he becomes a federal prisoner; they all want bragging rights. They want to tell their pals that they looked Dick Nixon right in the eye while they shot a load.
The march toward impeachment during Watergate was much more of a slog – took longer – than most people remember. Then, as now, Republicans dug in their heels, determined to protect their president. It wasn’t until the reveal that there were tapes – irrefutable evidence that Nixon knew about everything and actively participated in the cover up – that Republicans like Barry Goldwater marched dutifully to the White House to explain to Nixon why he’d be resigning. Impeachment and conviction were done deals.
We have “tapes” again now. And, as before, it will be the cover up that brings a president down. But that, pretty much, is where the similarities end. Nixon and company were covering up a burglary – committed for political purposes. Trump is covering up high crimes, misdemeanors and outright treason. Whereas the rest of the Republicans were pretty much innocent of complicity back during Watergate (they may have suspected Nixon was guilty but they in no way participated in what Nixon did), that’s not the case today.
The reason most Republicans will not – and cannot – turn on Trump is because they themselves are completely complicit in all of the underlying crimes.
All of the Republican leadership – Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Kevin McCarthy – knew or suspected that Russia was way up their ass during the 2016 campaign. Kevin McCarthy famously entered a meeting during the 2016 convention and voiced his concern that “Russia is paying Dana Rohrbacher and Trump”. Paul Ryan responded: “Let’s keep it in the family”.
Mitch McConnell has taken MILLIONS from Russia into his PAC. Innocent on the surface perhaps (we need to change those laws pronto), not even remotely innocent just below. Moscow Mitch made it his personal business to lift the sanctions on Putin Pal & GRU Guy Oleg Deripaska – the very person to whom Paul Manafort handed the proprietary polling data Russian military intelligence weaponized and turned on Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan – the tree parts of Hillary Clinton’s blue wall that Trump won by a combined 87,000 votes. Deripaska was sanctioned BECAUSE he interfered in the 2016 election.
We also know now that Russia infiltrated the NRA. Using its skilled agent Maria Buttina, Russia used the NRA to spread money and influence – and the NRA knew goddamned well that that’s what Russia was doing.
Wayne LaPierre, too, is the right wing finishing what Watergate started.
It’s not a coincidence that the two most damaging assaults on our whole political system came from the right – from conservatives – from Republicans. It’s not a coincidence because they’re connected.