Today, everyone knows the story behind the newly elected 45th President of the United States of America, the billionaire businessman named Donald Trump.
They know that ever since he was sworn in as president two months ago, he has been scoffed at by the American press who alleged that he had been directly involved in the carrying out of all sorts of questionable deals, for which he should be punished and forced to step down if he was found against.
Incidentally, that reminds of the late United States President, Richard Nixon who, unfortunately, is now being dragged into the fray since he himself was punished with impeachment – in fact he is the only American President to have been so punished - for lying to America.
President Nixon’s fall
from grace begins
On 30 April 1973, President Nixon was forced to ask for the resignation of two of his most influential aides, H. R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman; both were indicted and ultimately they were jailed.
Nixon also fired the White House Counsel, John Dean, who went on to testify before the Senate and became the key witness against President Richard Nixon.
In an address to the American people, President Nixon said:
“In one of the most difficult decisions of my Presidency, I accepted the resignations of two of my closest associates in the White House, Bob Haldeman and John Ehrlichman, two of the finest public servants it has been my privilege to know.
“Because Attorney General, Kleindienst, though a distinguished public servant, my personal friend for 20 years, with no personal involvement whatsoever in this matter has been a close personal and professional associate of some of those who are involved in this case, he and I both felt that it was also necessary to name a new Attorney General.
“The Counsel to the President, John Dean, has also resigned.”
— Richard Nixon.
“The smoking gun”
And then on 4 August 1974, a tape recording described as “crucial” in the Watergate break-in was publicly released.
Made on June 23, 1972, the recording was referred to as the “smoking gun” in that it disclosed a crucial conversation taking place “just a few days after the break-in” at the Watergate Complex.
It was revealed that the conversation “the tape is documenting is between Nixon and Haldeman talking during a meeting in the Oval Office.”
In that meeting, they are formulating “a plan to block any investigation by having the CIA to falsely claim to the FBI that national security was involved”, in the break-in.
In the tape, Haldeman is saying “… the Democratic break-in thing, we’re back to the – in the, the problem area because the FBI is not under control, because Gray doesn’t exactly know how to control them, and they have … their investigation is now leading into some productive areas … and it goes in some directions we don’t want it to go.”
After explaining how money had been traced to the burglars, Haldeman explained to Nixon the cover-up plan: “The way to handle this now is for us to have Walters [CIA] call Pat Gray [FBI] and just say, ‘Stay the hell out of this … this is ah, business here we don’t want you to go any further on it ….’”
In the tape, President Nixon is reported to have approved the plan, and he is given more information about the involvement of his campaign committee members in the break-in.
Now Nixon is telling Haldeman: “All right, fine, I understand it all. We won’t second-guess Mitchell and the rest.”
And then returning to the use of the C.I.A. to obstruct the FBI, he instructs Haldeman: “You call them in. Good. Good deal. Play it tough. That’s the way they play it and that’s the way we are going to play it.”
Before the tape was released though, “President Nixon had denied political motivations in his instructions to the CIA, and claimed that he had no knowledge prior to March 21, 1973 of any involvement by senior campaign officials such as John Mitchell.”
However, “the contents of this tape persuaded President Nixon’s own lawyers, Fred Buzhardt and James St. Clair, (that) the tape proved that the President had lied to the nation, to his closest aides, and to his own lawyers – for more than two years.”
Referred to as “the smoking gun” the tape “hampered Nixon politically. The ten congressmen who had voted against all three articles of impeachment in the committee announced that they would all support impeachment when the vote was taken in the full House.”
By this time Nixon was “still denying any involvement in the break-in,” and “now facing near-certain impeachment in the House of Representatives and a strong possibility of a conviction in the Senate, after being told by key Republican Senators that enough votes existed to remove him, Nixon decided to resign the presidency.”
President Nixon resigns
And then in a nationally televised address from the Oval Office, on the evening of August 8, 1974, President Nixon announced his resignation.
He told Americans:
“In all the decisions I have made in my public life, I have always tried to do what was best for the Nation. Throughout the long and difficult period of Watergate, I have felt it was my duty to persevere, to make every possible effort to complete the term of office to which you elected me.
In the past few days, however, it has become evident to me that I no longer have a strong enough political base in the Congress to justify continuing that effort. As long as there was such a base, I felt strongly that it was necessary to see the constitutional process through to its conclusion, that to do otherwise would be unfaithful to the spirit of that deliberately difficult process and a dangerously destabilizing precedent for the future ….
I would have preferred to carry through to the finish whatever the personal agony it would have involved, and my family unanimously urged me to do so. But the interest of the Nation must always come before any personal considerations.
From the discussions I have had with Congressional and other leaders, I have concluded that because of the Watergate matter I might not have the support of the Congress, that I would consider necessary to back the very difficult decisions and carry out the duties of this office in the way the interests of the Nation would require.
I have never been a quitter. To leave office before my term is completed is abhorrent to every instinct in my body. But as President, I must put the interest of America first.
America needs a full-time President and a full-time Congress, particularly at this time with problems we face at home and abroad. To continue to fight through the months ahead for my personal vindication would almost totally absorb the time and attention, of both the President and the Congress in a period when our entire focus should be on the great issues of peace abroad and prosperity without inflation at home.
Therefore, I shall resign the Presidency effective at noon tomorrow. Vice President Ford will be sworn in as President at that hour in this office.
— Richard Nixon.
America’s new president,
Richard Nixon’s resignation was official on August 9, 1974. He is the only United States President to have resigned office.
When Vice President Gerald Ford took over as President, Congress dropped impeachment proceedings against Nixon, but not the criminal ones.
However Congress, at that point, announced there was still “a possibility” that Nixon could be prosecuted, which was when President Ford stepped in, and issued “a full and unconditional pardon of President Nixon.”
As it turned out though, reports said: “(That) pardon became one of the most controversial aspects of the Watergate scandal.
“Gerald Ford had been the Minority Leader in the House of Representatives. He was chosen by Nixon to be Vice-President following the resignation of Spiro Agnew, in October 1973.
“Some people believe that when Ford became next in line of succession, the reluctance some politicians had to remove Nixon evaporated.
“Speculation mounted over whether Nixon would face criminal prosecution, and a Memorandum from within the office of the Watergate Special Prosecutor, Leon Jaworski, on the day Nixon resigned, weighed up the arguments for and against prosecution.
“When Ford became President on 9 August 1974, he said the national nightmare was now finally over.
“There were allegations that Nixon had struck a deal with Ford before resigning.
“In response, Ford denied these allegations and maintained that the pardon was the only way the nation could heal the wounds of Watergate.”
He said: “I am a ‘Ford, not a Lincoln’.”
He also said: “The pardon immunizes Nixon from prosecution for any crimes he had committed, or may have committed, or taken part in as President.”
In a television address on September 8, 1974 – a month after President Nixon had resigned office – President Ford gave Americans his reasons for his pardon proclamation.
And in doing so he maintained that a full pardon for Nixon was the right thing to do.
He said: “I feel the pardon is in the best interest of the country in that the Nixon family’s situation is an American tragedy, in which we all have played a part.
“It could go on and on and on, or someone must write the end to it. I have concluded that only I can do that, and if I can, I must.”
And so, at long last, now that America is in the process of extricating itself from the horror of the Vietnam War and the bitter agony of the Watergate Scandal, it is time for me to move on.
Today, I am ready for Greenwich Village; and yes, I am also ready for what I’ve been told is uniquely mesmerising, New York.
Now the question is: If Richard Nixon had been punished with impeachment for lying to America, would Donald Trump be so punished also if he was found to have lied to America?
Tell the rest what you think!