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A new commentary every Wednesday - May 17, 2017

Remembering Watergate


The mills of the gods grind slowly, but exceedingly fine—Plutarch

    I had a vivid flashback this past week when a pop-up containing another of President Trump's interminable Tweets appeared on my television. "James Comey better hope there are no "tapes" of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press." it said.

    I think this startling warning or threat—whichever it was, was preceded by some other self-serving twitter that had to do with either the magnitude of Trump's win in the election or the absence of proof of collusion with Russian officials, but my mind was overwhelmed by a floodtide of memories, the most vivid of which was the angry visage of President Richard Nixon leaning forward toward the camera lens, while stating, in a near shout, "I'm not a crook!" This was televised on November 17, 1973.  He resigned the presidency on August 8, 1974.

    The problem for Nixon was the existence of tape recordings a federal judge had forced him to reveal that nailed him to leading a cover-up of an abortive attempt by close associates to bug the phones in Democrat Party headquarters, then located in the huge Watergate complex in Washington, D.C. 

    What Nixon did not know is that within hours of the break-in in June of 1972, the FBI had found the name of E. Howard Hunt, in an address book owned by one of the Cuban Anti-Castro burglars hired by Hunt to help with the break-in. The FBI had an extensive dossier on Hunt, who had once been an Agent for the CIA. This wasn't the first "black bag" job organized by Hunt. He did time in prison for his role in the Watergate fiasco, as did others.

   Prior to that, our nation suffered a long. painful, two year process.

    Nixon organized a huge fund to furnish both legal counsel and provide hush money to a small army of co-conspirators. He was re-elected for a second term, but the continued reporting in the Washington Post by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward—aided immensely by "Deep Throat," Associate FBI Director Mark Felt, caused an unraveling of the cover-up.

    As to Trump's recollection of the dinner at the heart of their last supper and subsequent phone calls with James Comey, it seems peculiar to me that according to the President, one assurance from the then Director of the FBI was not sufficient to calm Trump's fears that he was not the target of an investigation. Doesn't it seem odd to the reader that the President said that he had to be assured of this three times? Once should have been enough.

   A special prosecutor charged with investigating this matter ought to be appointed by Congress. Finding an impartial one should not take more than a year or two. 

To be continued...


  -Phil Richardson, Observer of the human condition and storyteller. "He goes doddering on into his old age, making a public nuisance of himself." - Joseph L. Mencken



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