Untitled, Pen and Ink, 9" x 13", Richard J Van Wagoner, Courtesy of Van Wagoner Family Trust**
In McConnell’s calculous, a bipartisan, 9-11 style commission to investigate what happened and why, to protect the country against future such events, would make the GOP’s overtaking the House and Senate more difficult in the upcoming mid-terms. As personal favor to McConnell, this week’s GOP filibuster of the bill to establish a January 6 bipartisan commission is corrupt political theatre at its finest. It stands as metaphor for a shrinking minority’s continuing pull on all levers of power to maintain control at the expense of the rule of law and democratic norms. Did we expect a different outcome from a fully corrupted GOP after four years of a thoroughly corrupt president? I’ll save my comments about Senators Manchin and Sinema for another post as they regurgitate qsplained GOP talking points about unity and bipartisanship.
When it works to their political advantage, the GOP’s solemn commitment to the rule of law, and when politically inconvenient, their undermining of it, reminds me of that iconic scene in Ghost Busters where Dr. Peter Venkman tells seductress Sigourney Weaver’s demonically possessed character, “I make it a rule never to get involved with possessed people. . . . Actually, it’s more of a guideline than a rule.”
I was 13 when G. Gordon Liddy, wrest his soul, hatched his plan with Attorney General John Mitchell and Presidential Counsel John Dean. Sixty-nine indicted. Forty-eight convicted, including many at the top of the Nixon administration. Back then, it seems, justice was a little more certain for politicians who got caught, and swifter. Enough public officials and constituents had the integrity to recognize Nixon’s abuse of power and obstruction of justice as disqualifying for the leader of a country where all sides claimed adherence to the rule of law. Most of those who conspired, aided, and abetted where held to account.
Unfortunately for the survival of the United States as a constitutional republic, an insufficient number of public officials and constituents had the integrity to recognize Trump’s criminality – his entrenched corruption, abuses of power, obstructions of justice, bribery/extortion of a foreign official to influence the outcome of the 2020 election, incitement of an insurrection to overthrow the United States government, illegal attempts to undermine the 2020 election, including the recorded conversation with Georgia’s Secretary of State to find 11,780 votes, and many other crimes in office – as disqualifying. Neither Trump nor those who aided and abetted have been or are being held to account, except the insurrectionists whose primary defense is they were following dear leader’s express instructions based on the Big Lie. My guess is, any charges against Trump in New York will have nothing to do with his many crimes while in office.
John Dean drew six parallels between Watergate and findings in the Mueller report, the latter of which will be back in the news when McGahn testifies before the House Judiciary Committee, scheduled for June 4, 2021, behind closed doors. They include:
• Trump tried to convince Comey to “see [his] way clear” to let “Flynn go,” not unlike Nixon’s instruction to Haldeman to have the CIA ask the FBI not to continue the Watergate investigation for the sake of the country.
• Trump fired Comey because of the Russia investigation, not unlike the Saturday Night Massacre when Nixon fired his attorney general for refusing to remove special prosecutor Archibald Cox.
• When it leaked that McGahn threatened to quit over Trump’s order to fire Mueller, Trump instructed McGahn to create a fake paper trail to dispute the story, not unlike Nixon’s attempt to (1) get Dean to write a fake report exonerating the White House from any involvement in Watergate, and (2) influence Dean’s testimony after he began cooperating with prosecutors.
• Trump pressured others to convince Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III to un-recuse himself and take control of the Mueller investigation, not unlike Nixon’s attempt to exert control over the Watergate investigation through Ehrlichman and Henry Petersen.
• After news broke that Don Jr. met with Russians at Trump Tower, Trump dictated a misleading press statement that the meeting was about adoptions, not unlike Nixon aids drafting a false press statement that the burglars were not operating “on our behalf or with our consent.”
• Trump appeared to have “dangled pardons or offered other favorable treatment to” Flynn, Manafort, Cohen, and Stone for their silence, not unlike Nixon’s dangling pardons to keep witnesses from fully testifying.
See John Dean draws 6 parallels between the Mueller report and Watergate
At best, MCgahn will confirm what he told the Special Counsel and what we already know from the report: Trump obstructed justice on ten occasions, at least four of which, if indicted, would result in convictions. It’s all very interesting but of little consequence unless the Justice Department brings charges and holds him to account. The same is now true of Trump’s seditious conduct leading up to and on January 6. Every fair-minded person knows what he did, why, and essentially how he did it.
*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. Rob’s second novel, a beautifully written suspense drama that takes place in Utah, Wyoming, and Norway, dropped on November17, 2020. Available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple Bookstore and your favorite local bookshop, this novel, The Contortionists, which Rob himself narrates for the audio version, is a psychological page-turner about a missing child in a predominantly Mormon community. I have read the novel and listened to the audio version twice. It is a literary masterpiece. The Contortionists, however, is not for the faint of heart.
**Richard J Van Wagoner is my father. His list of honors, awards and professional associations is extensive. He was Professor Emeritus (Painting and Drawing), Weber State University, having served three Appointments as Chair of the Department of Visual Arts there. He guest-lectured and instructed at many universities and juried numerous shows and exhibitions. He was invited to submit his work as part of many shows and exhibitions, and his work was exhibited in many traveling shows domestically and internationally. 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 https://medium.com/@richardvanwagoner and https://lastamendment.com are hers