Is Trump worse than Nixon? Damn right he is…

Former White House counsel for the Nixon administration John Dean appears before a House Judiciary Committee hearing on the Mueller Report on Capitol Hill on June 10, 2019. (AP Photo / Manuel Balce Ceneta)

My god, has it been 46 years ago when John Dean, White House Counsel for Richard Nixon, testified before Sam Ervin’s Watergate committee and said he told Nixon “there was a cancer on the presidency.”

Dean still had a relatively full head of blonde hair back then, but now he is gray and partially bald but returned to Capitol Hill Monday to discuss parallels between the actions that led Nixon to resign and even more questionable actions by current corrupt president Donald Trump.

“The last time I appeared before your committee was July 11, 1974, during the impeachment inquiry of President Richard Nixon,” Dean testified to the House Judiciary Committee.

As a columnist for The Telegraph in Alton, IL, I followed Dean’s testimony then and I did so Monday as he drew parallels of lies by Trump aides like William Barr and the ones told by Attorney General John Mitchell, H.R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman.  He drew other similarities between the Trump’s firing of FBI director James Comey and Nixon’s dismissal of Archibald Cox — efforts by both presidents to shut down FBI probes.

Dean told about Nixon promising pardons to those who might lie for him and noted that Trump has done the same.  Nixon told Dean to lie.  Trump told his attorney, Donald McGahn, to do the same.

“The Mueller report, like the Watergate Road Map, conveys findings, with supporting evidence, of potential criminal activity,” Dean told the House Judiciary Committee Monday. “It’s quite striking and startling to me that history is repeating itself, and with a vengeance.”

Dean does not like Trump, a feeling that is building with more and more people in America.

Writes columnist Dana Milbank in The Washington Post:

The current situation is worse than Watergate — not necessarily in the illegality (history will judge that), but in the way the political system handles the investigation.

During Dean’s first go-round, serious legislators put country before party and launched honest and sober investigations of Nixon’s misbehavior. But now, Republican lawmakers reflexively defend Trump’s impropriety and support his refusal to allow aides to testify before congressional inquiries.

Meanwhile, many Democrats, rather than following the Watergate model of lengthy investigation before impeachment, are clamoring for immediate impeachment proceedings. And then there’s Trump. Nixon, for all his faults, never declared that John Dean was a “sleazebag,” “loser” and a “rat.”

At Monday’s hearing, the chairman, Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) pleaded with colleagues to treat the session with the “seriousness it deserves.”

One has to wonder if the current Republicans on Capitol Hill have the ability to get serious about anything but their narrow focus beliefs and cult-like following of a con artist like Donald Trump.

Would this group have taken on Nixon in 1974?  Probably not.

Will they ever realize they are now backing a criminal whose actions have been called “treasonous” by many?  Not likely.

John Dean lost his job, his law license and went to prison because of his time in the Nixon White House.  So have a growing list of those associated with Donald Trump.

Is Trump worse than Nixon?

As a career newspaperman who also worked for a short time as a GOP operative — a bad move I have apologized for many times — I wrote extensively about Watergate and now have been doing the same about Trump.

Yes, I believe Trump is worse.  I believe he is just as criminal and more dangerous to our system of government, our country and our way of life.

Since Congress appears unable to do the job because of too much gamesmanship and too little leadership, it now must fall to the voters to take Trump out.

Let’s remember that he lost the popular vote by more than three million votes before an Electoral College system driven by gerrymandered districts overturned the will of the people of this country.

This time, the margin of defeat must be larger and must come in states that cannot be controlled by an Electoral College system that, like Trump, ignores the will of the people, the law and the needs of America.

Copyright © 2019 Capitol Hill Blue

Do Democrats have the guts to take down King Trump?

(Image courtesy of Time Magazine)

America is in its worst Constitutional crisis since the sordid Watergate affair.

This one is worse than Watergate.  The crisis spawned by wannabe king Donald John Trump is an assault on our government, our democratic republic and our way of life.

Trump is openly flaunting the law and the Constitution to protect his corruption, his flagrant ethical lapses and his “high crimes” against this nation.

Trump moved this week to exert his “executive privilege” on any and all documents relating to the special counsel investigation by former FBI director Robert Mueller, concluded last month after a long probe and one that, while not saying one way or the other that Trump violated the law, lists at least 10 occasions where collusion and obstruction of justice occurred.

Trump claims the report “totally exonerated” him.  Those who ignore politics and look at the legalities disagree.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi says Trump’s actions are encouraging the House to impeach him.  That’s probably true because Trump believes impeachment will rally his base and the GOP-controlled Senate will never convict him.

As usual, politics trumps the law (pun intended).  The most corrupt president in modern history, and most likely of all time, truly believes he can, as he always has, keep breaking the law and get away with anything he wants.

The Democrats who control the House are also playing politics.  They worry that impeachment could backfire and threaten their majority in the House and stall their hopes to once again control the Senate.

Washington attorney Jack Quinn, who served as counsel to former president Bill Clinton during his impeachment fight, says Trump is forcing an option that could lose.

“They are doing it so broadly and with so little judgment that I think they are debasing their overall approach to this,” Quinn told The Washington Post. “The overreliance on executive privilege, in the end, will be problematic for the White House.”

So, Quinn adds, is impeachment.

“There is absolutely no constitutional way they can block the impeachment powers granted to the House,” he says.

House Majority Leader Stenny Hoyer is not reluctant to discuss impeaching Trump.

“If the facts lead us to that objective, so be it,” he told reporters Wednesday.

Article 3 of the “Watergate Articles of Impeachment” accused then-president Richard Nixon of “violating his constitutional duty to faithfully execute the laws by refusing to comply with congressional subpoenas.”

“People are mindful of that,” admits Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island, a Democratic leader in the House.

“This is a really dangerous and unprecedented set of actions that the president is taking,” says Washington State Rep. Pramila Jayapal, who is also chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Some Democrats worry that Pelosi is too cautious.

“We get the narrative from our leadership that we all got elected on health care and the economy and all of that,” says Rep. Gerald E. Connolly of Virginia, “but we also got elected to impose checks and balances on a president who is unchecked and unbalanced.”

Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-MD, serves on the House Judiciary Committee and says Democrats may finally have the gumption to fight Trump’s obstructionism.

“My grandfather used to say that duck hunting is a lot of fun until the ducks start firing back,” he said in an interview with The New York Times. “We’re starting to fire back.”

Aim well.  The survival of this nation depends on your marksmanship.


Copyright © 2019 Capitol Hill Blue

Kavanaugh: Supremes’ decision on Watergate ‘wrong’

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh glances at reporters during a meeting with Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, July 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh suggested several years ago that the unanimous high court ruling in 1974 that forced President Richard Nixon to turn over the Watergate tapes, leading to the end of his presidency, may have been wrongly decided.

Kavanaugh was taking part in a roundtable discussion with other lawyers when he said at three different points that the decision in U.S. v. Nixon, which marked limits on a president’s ability to withhold information needed for a criminal prosecution, may have come out the wrong way.

A 1999 magazine article about the roundtable was part of thousands of pages of documents that Kavanaugh has provided to the Senate Judiciary Committee as part of the confirmation process. The committee released the documents on Saturday.

Kavanaugh’s belief in robust executive authority already is front and center in his nomination by President Donald Trump to replace the retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy. The issue could assume even greater importance if special counsel Robert Mueller seeks to force Trump to testify in the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

“But maybe Nixon was wrongly decided — heresy though it is to say so. Nixon took away the power of the president to control information in the executive branch by holding that the courts had power and jurisdiction to order the president to disclose information in response to a subpoena sought by a subordinate executive branch official. That was a huge step with implications to this day that most people do not appreciate sufficiently…Maybe the tension of the time led to an erroneous decision,” Kavanaugh said in a transcript of the discussion that was published in the January-February 1999 issue of the Washington Lawyer.

At another point in the discussion, Kavanaugh said the court might have been wise to stay out of the tapes dispute. “Should U.S. v. Nixon be overruled on the ground that the case was a nonjusticiable intrabranch dispute? Maybe so,” he said.

Kavanaugh was among six lawyers who took part in the discussion in the aftermath of independent counsel Kenneth Starr’s investigation that led to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton. Kavanaugh had been a member of Starr’s team.

The discussion was focused on the privacy of discussions between government lawyers and their clients.

Philip Lacovara, who argued the Watergate tapes case against Nixon and moderated the discussion, said Kavanaugh has long believed in a strong presidency. “That was Brett staking out what has been his basic jurisprudential approach since law school,” Lacovara said in a telephone interview Saturday.

Still, Lacovara said, “it was surprising even as of 1999 that the unanimous decision in the Nixon tapes case might have been wrongly decided.”

Kavanaugh allies pointed to a recent, more favorable assessment of the Nixon case. “Whether it was Marbury, or Youngstown, or Brown, or Nixon, some of the greatest moments in American judicial history have been when judges stood up to the other branches, were not cowed, and enforced the law. That takes backbone, or what some call judicial engagement,” Kavanaugh wrote in a 2016 law review article in which he referred to several landmark Supreme Court cases.

The 1999 article was among a pile of material released in response to the committee’s questionnaire. Kavanaugh was asked to provide information about his career as an attorney and jurist, his service in the executive branch, education, society memberships and more.

It’s an opening look at a long paper trail that lawmakers will consider as they decide whether to confirm him. The high court appointment could shift the court rightward for years to come.

A longtime figure in the Washington establishment, Kavanaugh acknowledged in the questionnaire that he had joined clubs that he said once had discriminatory membership policies.

“Years before I became a member of the Congressional Country Club and the Chevy Chase Club, it is my understanding that those clubs, like most similar clubs around the country, may have excluded members on discriminatory bases that should not have been acceptable to people then and would not be acceptable now,” he wrote.

Asked to list the 10 most significant cases for which he sat as a judge, Kavanaugh cited nine in which “the position expressed in my opinion (either for the court or in a separate writing) was later adopted by the Supreme Court.”

The 10th regarded a man fired by mortgage giant Fannie Mae after he filed a discrimination complaint that alleged a company executive had created a hostile work environment by calling the worker “the n-word.” Kavanaugh said he included it “because of what it says about anti-discrimination law and American history.”

Kavanaugh said an appeals court panel on which he sat reversed a lower court’s ruling in favor of Fannie Mae. He said he joined the majority opinion in 2013 and wrote a separate concurrence “to explain that calling someone the n-word, even once, creates a hostile work environment.”

In the questionnaire, Kavanaugh cited his opinion in that case: “No other word in the English language so powerfully or instantly calls to mind our country’s long and brutal struggle to overcome racism and discrimination against African-Americans.’” But it was one of the relatively few discrimination cases in which Kavanaugh sided with a complaining employee.

Offering a timeline leading to his nomination, he said White House counsel Don McGahn called him the day Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement, June 27, and they met the next day. Trump interviewed him July 2, with McGahn present, and Vice President Mike Pence interviewed him July 4. Kavanaugh spoke by phone with the president on July 8 and that evening met at the White House with Trump and his wife, Melania, where he said he was offered and accepted the nomination.

Asked whether anyone sought assurances from him about the stand he might take on a specific case or issue, he answered “No.” He also said he had not offered any indication how he might rule as a justice.

Kavanaugh has written some 300 rulings as an appeals court judge and has a record in the George W. Bush White House as well as in Starr’s probe of Clinton.

Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the committee chairman, said the questionnaire was “the broadest and most comprehensive” ever sent by the committee and he welcomed “Judge Kavanaugh’s diligent and timely response.”

The nominee told lawmakers he registered for the Selective Service in his younger days but did not serve in the armed forces.

Years before he became a judge and compiled a solidly conservative record, Kavanaugh also reflected on how past nominees have sometimes disappointed partisans who wanted a more liberal or conservative justice. Speaking on CNN in 2000, he was responding to a question about whether the next president could “pack the court” with like-minded justices.

Presidents often prefer to avoid bloody confirmation fights, he said in a transcript that was released Saturday. “We’ve seen that time and again, to pick the consensus pick who turns out to be more moderate and thus less predictable, that’s what’s happened,” Kavanaugh said.




Supporting documents:


Associated Press writer Jessica Gresko contributed to this report.

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