Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Comey and Dean

It was forty four years ago this month when John Dean testified before the Senate committee investigating the Watergate scandal.  At the time the Nixon White House was preparing for Dean's testimony and was considering how they would react to any allegations.

It made me pause today to read that the Trump White House now, nearly half a century later is doing something similar in anticipation of James Comey's testimony on Thursday.

Whether it is correct or not we will never know for sure, but many experts feel that if Richard Nixon had admitted to his behavior regarding obstructing the investigation of the Watergate break-in, his presidency would have continued.  The often cited claim is that the cover-up was worse than the break-in.  Yet it appears that Trump has already hired an attorney to address any comments Comey may make that accuse Trump of wrong doing.

Watergate is the scandal most of us collecting social security remember most vividly.  The scandal became such a common part of our culture that any subsequent scandal has been given the gate suffix. In sports we have Spygate and Deflategate.  An exhaustive list of all such gate scandals can be found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_scandals_with_%22-gate%22_suffix.  I had not heard of many of these and the sheer number is a bit startling.  (My favorite I think is Nipplegate a reference to the wardrobe malfunction during halftime of the superbowl a few years back).

The point is that anyone with any sense of history knows that what is happening now is similar to what happened then--not in terms of the offense--at least that has not been proven yet--but how the White House apparently intends to react to the accusation. It is a stonewalling defense that never works in the long run.

Of course in this case it would have been wise for Trump never to have attempted to stifle the investigation in the first place.   But if he indeed had, why follow in the footsteps of the only president ever to be forced to resign.

I was in New Hampshire when Dean testified in June of 1973. I was staying with a buddy who had rented a remote cabin in the white mountains. We could not get television reception but we were able to listen to the testimony on a radio.  And we did that all day long during the first day of his testimony--which was essentially, a very long statement.  I can still remember us shaking our heads at what Dean was relaying.  I will not shake my head if Comey says something akin to what Dean said half a century ago.  But it will be head shaking stuff if the Trump White House decides to aggressively take the same road in defense that caused his predecessor to resign in disgrace.

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