February 21, 1975: Watergate Scandal a Premonition of Russiagate?

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A Brief History

On February 21, 1975, the highest ranking culprits in the Watergate Scandal were sentenced, including former Attorney General John Mitchell, and White House aides John Ehrlichman and HR Haldeman. Of course, the top banana in that bunch, President Richard M. Nixon, was forced to resign in 1974 in the face of certain impeachment. How does this compare to the “Russiagate” (or “Trumpgate”) Scandal that has tarnished the 2016 US Presidential election?

Digging Deeper

During the 1972 reelection bid by Richard Nixon for a second term as President, members of his campaign paid some burglars to break into the Democratic headquarters in the Watergate Hotel in Washington, DC. Those guys were caught, and although President Nixon did not know of the plan to break in or endorse the action, he was complicit in the cover up of the scandal and his lying and obstruction of justice doomed his presidency.

A key component of the actions that undid Nixon was the so called “Saturday Night Massacre” of October 20, 1973 in which he ordered the Attorney General, Elliot Richardson, to fire Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox that was heading up the investigation. Richardson refused to fire Cox and resigned. Nixon then ordered William Ruckelshaus, the next in command at the Department of Justice to fire Cox, and Ruckelshaus also refused and resigned.

Front page of The New York Times, October 21, 1973, announcing the dismissal of Cox and the departure of Richardson and Ruckleshaus

Nixon finally found his sycophant in the person of Solicitor General Robert Bork, who did as Nixon bid and fired Cox. Nixon was forced to allow Bork to hire a new Special Prosecutor, one that hopefully would sweep the scandal under the rug. Leon Jaworski was named as the new Special Prosecutor and to Nixon’s chagrin, did his job and continued to aggressively investigate and prosecute the Watergate Scandal. (Bork ended up being nominated to the US Supreme Court by President Reagan, but his Watergate baggage caused his nomination to be withdrawn.)

The shocking attempt by President Nixon to stifle the investigation and to subvert justice disheartened even Republicans and made the President’s continuation in office untenable. Nixon resigned on August 8, 1974, though he was pardoned by the new President, Gerald Ford, and avoided any further prosecution. Ford did not pardon other defendants, of which 69 were charged and 48 were convicted of various crimes related to the Watergate Scandal investigation.

From left to right: minority counsel Fred Thompson, ranking member Howard Baker, and chair Sam Ervin of the Senate Watergate Committee in 1973.

Since 2016 the United States has been having a sick case of Déjà vu with a probe of how Russia and Russians interfered with the US Presidential election of 2016, including whether or not any Americans had conspired with those Russians to subvert the democratic process in America. As of this time, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, former National Security Advisor and George Papadopoulos, former Trump campaign adviser, have both pleaded guilty to crimes related to the investigation and are assisting with further investigations. Another pair of Trump campaign officials have been indicted and charged, former campaign manager Paul Manafort and campaign adviser Rick Gates, with Gates supposedly also making a deal to turn state’s evidence. On February 16, 2018, a bombshell announcement that 13 Russian nationals and 3 Russian entities had also been indicted, specifically with undermining and subverting the 2016 US Presidential election.

President Trump has already fired the Director of the FBI James Comey and Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, both supposedly for failing to end the investigation into Russian interference with the 2016 election. President Trump has also publicly and privately mused about the job status of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, bitterly denouncing Sessions having recused himself from overseeing the investigation, an investigation in which Sessions himself is actually implicated and cannot ethically oversee. An incredible quantity of facts concerning questionable practices by Trump White House staffers and campaign staffers, including Trump family members has already been made public, with at least that many rumors or more about alleged involvement in conspiracy to defraud the American voters. The possibility of the investigation broadening into Trump’s questionable money practices also looms over the White House.

Will History repeat itself? How many convictions will Russiagate generate? Will the scandal cost Donald Trump his presidency? Will any Trump family members be convicted of crimes? As of now, Watergate certainly is the bigger scandal, but the potential for Russiagate to eclipse Watergate as the ultimate American political scandal seems to be there. What do you think? Will President Trump be forced out of office? Will he make a fatal move such as firing the Special Investigator, Robert Mueller? How many people will end up in prison? Will Vice President Pence stay out of the line of fire? Please give us your thoughts and predictions on this current political bombshell.

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Historical Evidence

For more information, please see…

Coleman, Phil. WATERGATE WAS NOT ABOUT THE WATER: Watergate: The Truth Behind The Biggest Political Scandal In History. Independently Published, 2017.

Shepard, Geoff. The Real Watergate Scandal: Collusion, Conspiracy, and the Plot That Brought Nixon Down. Regnery History, 2015. 



About Author

Major Dan

Major Dan is a retired veteran of the United States Marine Corps. He served during the Cold War and has traveled to many countries around the world. Prior to his military service, he graduated from Cleveland State University, having majored in sociology. Following his military service, he worked as a police officer eventually earning the rank of captain prior to his retirement.