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The Nixon Tapes And Now

I had predicted in an earlier article that the Democrats in the House would not bring impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump. I was wrong. After revelations of his conversation with the President of Ukraine, Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, authorized an “inquiry” into impeachment proceedings against the President.

My earlier prediction was based upon the fact that impeachment would fail in the U.S. Senate; and so why waste the time of the people of the United States in an effort which was doomed to failure? What has changed is the President’s own recent admission that he was trying to influence a foreign government to bring down Joe Biden.

So far, we have been getting “redactions” and summations of what the President said to the leader of Ukraine. A “whistleblower,” still unknown, says that the White House has covered up the complete conversation of the President. It all reminds me a bit of 1974.

In the Watergate scandal, there was an inside source, known as “deep throat” who “spilled the beans” about the break-in at the Democratic headquarters in D.C. When it became known that the President knew of and had authorized the operation and that there had been a taped conversation and a cover-up–a subpoena was issued for the tape. That matter went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and in a unanimous decision the Court essentially ordered the White House to give up the tape. (United States v. Nixon , 1974)

When that happened, we all know what happened next. President Nixon got in his helicopter, gave his last “V” for victory salute, and relinquished the Presidency to Vice President Gerald Ford. He was then pardoned by the new President Ford, and the country moved forward.

There are differences today but also similarities. Assuming that the “inquiry” by the House results in articles of impeachment, the matter will end up in the U.S. Senate. There, the future of Donald Trump’s Presidency will be in the hands of his own party. In 1974, though Democrats were in the majority in the Senate, Republican Senators controlled the impeachment process because 67 votes (two-thirds) were needed for conviction. When the tapes were ordered released, a group of Republican Senators, including Barry Goldwater, went to the White House and told President Nixon that probably only 15 Senators would support him, far less than needed to stop an impeachment.

President Trump said during his last campaign that his supporters would back him, no matter what he did. “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and wouldn’t lose any voters,” he said, “It’s, like, incredible.” That sentiment could continue to hold, or it could change depending on what more comes out during the inquiry.

U.S. Senators tend to have a longer-term view of things. The framers of the Constitution gave them longer terms (6 years) than either the President (4 years) or Representatives in the House (2 years.) That is probably why Senators were given the last say in something as serious as removing a President from office.

If evidence builds that President Trump violated his oath of office or committed a crime, it is possible that history could repeat itself and we could have President Pence in the White House before this is over.

Rolland Kidder is a Stow resident.

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