IN RUSSIA’S FAVOR
TRUMP AND HIS ENABLERS ARE SOLIDIFYING THEIR WELL-EARNED PLACE IN HISTORY AS TRAITORS TO THE UNITED STATES
Slate’s Slow Burn podcast, hosted by Leon Neyfakh, brings into high resolution many chilling similarities between Watergate—which resulted in articles of impeachment and Nixon’s resignation—and Russiagate. Having some involvement in the conspiracy to unfairly influence the outcome of the presidential election and its cover-up, some 40 people were indicted and/or spent time in federal correctional facilities in the aftermath. Those “patriots” betrayed the United States and the Constitution by undermining the core means of America maintaining its sovereignty and form of self-governance, the electoral process. A material difference between the two scandals is Watergate was an American criminal enterprise. Watergate attacked and corrupted America’s sovereignty, mostly from within. Russiagate, on the other hand, brought into the conspiracy a hostile foreign power in successfully corrupting, subverting and overcoming that sovereignty and, according to well-credentialed experts, swaying the outcome of the election. In Russia’s favor. But for Russia’s attack on the U.S. presidential election, Mr. Trump would not be president, according to some. Russia would not be gaining increasing status and influence—in its favor—with the American executive. The fallout will be the continued degradation of American leadership and credibility and U.S. renunciation of much of what it has stood for in advancing liberal democracy and human rights throughout the world.
Russia did not park its nuclear submarines on the sea floor off the east coast. It did not fire missiles or scramble fighter jets. Not a single shot was fired. To carry out this act of war Russia sent droves of computer hackers online and its emissaries, bearing gifts, to connect with high level members of the campaign. Russia collaborated with Wikileaks, among a growing number of overt acts the investigation is uncovering.
Having elected the candidate of its dreams Russia, through its prize asset, has now infiltrated the highest levels of American government and appears to be exercising inordinate influence over United States foreign and economic policy: in Russia’s favor; to the detriment of United States’ form of government, its credibility and alliances. How do we know? The same way we know Trump is lying. We can hear him. We don’t need Deep Throat or Nixonian tape recordings. We have Trump. Twitter. Spontaneous idiocy and betrayal.
Trump’s mantra “no collusion,” not unlike Nixon’s “no cover-up,” rings tinny and ever hollower as the investigation reveals the vast contacts his closest campaign aids and family members had with Russian operatives, all with the express purpose of reducing U.S. sanctions against that hostile foreign power in exchange for its able assistance in swaying the election to Mr. Trump. Now his lawyers concede to the Special Counsel Mr. Trump’s personal role in the manufactured explanation to cover-up the purpose of the Trump Tower meeting, “as any father would.” He drafted it.
As I listened to episode 5 of Slow Burn—True Believer, two things struck me. First, the many people who had voted for Nixon, including Democrats, didn’t care about Watergate. Nixon understood them, their predicaments and concerns, and would give them a voice. Second, Nixon’s many enablers in the legislative branch continued their efforts to undermine the work of the Senate Watergate Committee aka Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities, and the credibility of Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox and his investigation. High-placed government officials continued their efforts to politicize the investigation, falsely characterizing it as a liberal attack on the veracity of the election even after John Dean, for a full five days, explained in painful detail the entirety of the top-down conspiracy and its cover-up.
Trump, his handlers and enablers are using Nixon’s playbook. Given Trump's sleeping with a hostile foreign power, however, history will treat them much more harshly than it does Nixon and his, so long as Russia doesn't get to write that history.
*My brother the very talented fiction writer and novelist, Robert Hodgson Van Wagoner, deserves considerable credit for offering both substantive and technical suggestions to https://medium.com/@richardvanwagoner and https://lastamendment.com
**My daughter Angela Moore, a professional photographer, photographed more than 500 pieces of my father's work. On behalf of the Van Wagoner Family Trust, she is in the process of compiling a collection of his art work. The photographs of my father's art reproduced in lastamendment.com are hers.