Like Watergate all over again? In some ways, yes, but there are stark differencesRoundup
tags: Watergate, impeachment, Nixon, Trump
Jon Marshall is an assistant professor at Northwestern University’s Medill School and the author of “Watergate’s Legacy and the Press: The Investigative Impulse.”
Echoes of Watergate could be heard in Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s announcement Tuesday that the House of Representatives will begin a formal impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump. But how similar is this path to what the nation experienced 45 years ago?
In 1974, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee approved three articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon as a result of the Watergate scandal, leading him to become the only president to resign. Now Democrats hope their impeachment probe will force Trump from office over allegations that he pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to give him political dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden, who is a threat to Trump in the 2020 election.
Just as they were during Watergate, accusations of abusing power for personal political reasons are at the heart of the new impeachment inquiry. Trump allegedly froze congressionally approved aid for Ukraine while asking Zelenskiy to provide possibly damaging information about Biden and his son Hunter.
Similarly, the second article of impeachment against Nixon charged him with abusing his presidential power. Nixon had used the FBI and IRS to hurt journalists, Democrats and other people he didn’t like. His administration also created a secret unit to illegally wiretap people and break into their offices. And he used the power of his office to cover up the involvement of his aides in the burglary of the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C.