I was not paying very close attention in the early ’70s to the shenanigans that eventually brought down the Nixon presidency, but recently I’ve been getting that déjà vu feeling. I recall that Watergate was named for the hotel that housed the offices of the Democratic National Committee, which Nixon’s “plumbers” burglarized. How long, I wondered, did it take for that attempt to influence the 1972 presidential election to catch up to Nixon and bring him down.
So, with the help of Mother Jones, I pulled together a timeline of the key events between the Watergate DNC break-in and Nixon’s resignation a little more than two years later:
Sept. 9, 1971 “Plumbers” Unit burglarizes Ellsberg’s shrink’s office.
June 17, 1972 Five men arrested bugging DNC’s Watergate headquarters
June–Sept., 1972 Washington Post reports various connections
Oct. 10, 1972 FBI establishes Watergate part of massive spying & sabotage by Nixon campaign
Nov. 11, 1972 Nixon reelected by a landslide
Jan. 30, 1973 Former Nixon aides Liddy & McCord + 5 others convicted in Watergate break-in
April 30, 1973 WH staff Haldeman, Ehrlichman, AG Kleindienst resign; counsel Dean, fired
May 18, 1973 Senate Watergate hearings begin, special prosecutor appointed
June-July more & more dirt dug up, revealed
Oct. 20, 1973 Saturday Night Massacre: Nixon fires spec. prosecutor, AG resigns
Nov. ’73–July, ’74 More dirt, Nixon won’t cooperate, Supremes order him to
July 27, 1974 Hs Jud. Comm. passes 1st of 3 articles of impeachment, for obstruction of justice
Aug. 8, 1974 Nixon resigns—2 yrs after DNC break-in, 22 mos. after the election he rigged
I have not made a point-by-point comparison with the current fiasco. The lines between legitimate campaign tactics and criminal intent seem even more blurred these days than in the days of Nixon’s “dirty tricks,” with fewer courageous Republicans willing to challenge the president.
The FBI has identified Russian attempts to swing the 2016 US presidential election. The intelligence community has identified several questionable and possibly unconstitutional contacts of members of Trump’s campaign with Russian officials dabbling in US foreign affairs prior to Trump’s being sworn in and possibly conspiring to swing the election itself.
How much did he know, and when did he know it? The kind of obfuscation we’ve been getting from the White House is reminiscent of Nixon’s and his staff’s stonewalling throughout the beginning of his second term, until his resignation nearly two years after his reelection.