From Watergate to Trumpgate | The Press

June 17, 2022 marks the 50e anniversary of a defining event in American political history. On June 17, 1972, five burglars were arrested at the central offices of the Democratic Party, located in the Watergate building, in Washington. It was the spark leading to the investigation of the Watergate scandal and which ended with the resignation of President Richard Nixon in August 1974. To this day, he remains the only president in American history whose presidency s concluded with a resignation.

On June 10, the public hearings of a special committee of the House of Representatives of Congress began. This committee has the mandate to investigate the events related to the riot of January 6, 2021, which occurred on Capitol Hill, in Washington, during the certification by the United States Senate of the election of Joe Biden to the presidency on November 3, 2020.

We remember the violent attacks by several demonstrators and supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump, both outside and inside the Capitol. Since then, these events have been commonly referred to as an “insurrection against American democracy”.

After 11 months of investigation and more than 1,000 interviews, the special committee led by Democratic Representative Bennie Thompson of Mississippi chose to report on its work during the first public session recently aired on all major television networks. American (except Fox News).

The hearings against Trump

Since the committee’s first session on the events of January 6, members have reported on the extent of the violence that occurred that day on Capitol Hill. They spread the gestures and words of Donald Trump during this day and the days that preceded. Additionally, they raised the possibility of an orchestrated plot to prevent the transition of power from Trump to Biden, which could eventually have consequences in court.

Some witnesses, including former attorney general William Barr, testified under oath that they did not accept Trump’s theory that he was robbed of the election. Mr Barr said it was ‘hogwash with no real proof’. This opinion seems to be shared by Donald Trump’s eldest daughter, Ivanka, who spoke in a video as a witness.

Despite this, Trump maintained his position and made gestures in his entourage to support the hypothesis of a plot organized by Democrats and activists of the American left to wrest power from him.

It is recognized today that Vice President Mike Pence acted correctly in certifying the victory of Joe Biden. No court case or investigation into alleged wrongdoing has supported Trump’s case. This thesis is now referred to as the “Big Lie”.

Since then, the Republican Party has generally remained loyal to Trump, and the House Select Committee has not had official approval from that party to conduct the investigation. However, two Republicans, Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, take part in this committee made up of nine members. Cheney and Kinzinger adhere to the finding that President Biden was legitimately elected.

The real issue in this process will be whether Donald Trump and certain members of his entourage acted criminally by violating the American Constitution. Congress can’t make such charges, but if the evidence is strong enough, the Justice Department could pursue them in court.

Back to Watergate

It is clear that the current public hearings are taking place in a climate of great political polarization. Already, Trump supporters and the Republican leadership are treating the former president as the victim of a partisan struggle led by the Democrats to overshadow the highest rate of inflation in 40 years in the United States.

As for Watergate, we must remember that the political polarization at the time was less strong. From the spring of 1973, when President Nixon had just won his re-election decisively in November 1972, the American Senate began the investigation concerning him directly as well as his entourage.

During the Watergate hearings in 1973, then-Republican leader Howard Baker described the Senate committee’s mission as “the search for truth” by asking two questions: “What did the president know ? » and « from when did he know it? “. Ultimately, Nixon was guilty and was voted on by the House of Representatives committee to impeach him (impeachment).

Today, Trump is no longer in power, but everything indicates that he wants to return there in 2024. Since the days of Watergate, the suffix “gate” has often been used to describe political scandals. So it remains to be seen whether Donald Trump’s plans for 2024 will be derailed, as was the case for Richard Nixon’s presidency in 1974, by what is becoming known as ‘Trumpgate’.

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