Skip to content

Déjà vu’, Congress?

June 19, 2014

Déjà vu.  The feeling of having been in a place or situation, usually unpleasant or disturbing, before. The IRS contention that it benignly destroyed all traces of Lois Lerner’s hard drive and yes, even the server records as well, certainly seems unpleasantly familiar.

When you have a great deal to lose, you may have a great deal to hide. This was never more starkly true than in the case of the events leading up to the articles of  impeachment brought against Richard M. Nixon, the 37th President of the United States.

It was never conclusively proven that Nixon ordered the Watergate break-in or even knew of it before it happened. His close political associates were convicted of acts that they undertook to bolster Nixon’s election chances. 

The articles of impeachment were based on Nixon’s post-break-in behavior. The complaint never accuses him of committing the underlying crime. 

Although Nixon was never formally removed from office by impeachment, the events and the resulting fallout resulted in his resignation on August 8, 1974. 

The wording of the articles of impeachment seem eerily appropriate today. 

The first three sections and the eighth section of the impeachment documents detail some of the grounds for impeachment. These sections of Article 1 of the Nixon impeachment document read in part as follows:

1. making false or misleading statements to lawfully authorized investigative officers and employees of the United States; 

2. withholding relevant and material evidence or information from lawfully authorized investigative officers and employees of the United States; 

3. approving, condoning, acquiescing in, and counseling witnesses with respect to the giving of false or misleading statements to lawfully authorized investigative officers and employees of the United States and false or misleading testimony in duly instituted judicial and congressional proceedings;”

Article 1, section 8 of the same document alleges Nixon was complicit in: 

“8. making or causing to be made false or misleading public statements for the purpose of deceiving the people of the United States into believing that a thorough and complete investigation had been conducted with respect to allegations of misconduct on the part of personnel of the executive branch of the United States and personnel of the Committee for the Re-election of the President, and that there was no involvement of such personnel in such misconduct:”[1] 

The facts about Watergate were derived from the investigation by a special prosecutor appointed at the direction of Congress. Prior to that time, Nixon or his political minions had obfuscated and obstructed Congress on virtually every attempt to investigate the break-in, including refusing to release and even destroying tape recordings of conversations relevant to the investigation. 

Fast Forward – 2014 

While the triggering events may be different, there are striking similarities between the current IRS investigation and Watergate. Nixon famously went on TV and declared “I am not a crook”. President Obama, in an interview with Bill O’Reilly of the Fox News organization declared there wasn’t even a “smidgen of corruption” in the IRS or its dealings with potentially unfriendly groups seeking nonprofit status. 

Both Presidents were or are unpopular with the majority of the public. Nixon because of the Viet Nam War, and President Obama due to the IRS affair, as well as a cascade of similar well-publicized and politically charged revelations. All of these other instances appear to portray him as disinterested in anything other than hot-button campaign issues. Both Presidents have been described in terms such as aloof, autocratic, and secretive and distrustful of the media. 

Implausible deniability 

Until the IRS came up with its newest excuse for not cooperating fully in the investigation of the IRS targeting scandal, perhaps it could be said with some semblance of a straight face that the congressional hearings were a witch hunt by the President’s political enemies. 

However, in today’s world, every computer, tablet or smartphone owner knows that most of what travels electronically between work stations and servers is never completely unrecoverable. Someone has the received emails, even if the originating terminal vanished in a cloud of fairy dust. 

This latest shadow boxing technique, alleging that only certain emails, from certain people, during certain time periods are unrecoverable, while others from the exact same time period still exist is simply ridiculous. Those emails may have the potential to become the equivalent of the  “smoking gun tape” that sealed Nixon’s fate. 

Both presidents were involved in re-election campaigns at the time their respective scandals took place. Both presidents have shown a fine contempt for the niceties of the law when it cramps their style. Without the special prosecutor, Nixon may very well have been able to protect himself and his cronies from any more than the court of public opinion. 

Asking the American public to swallow the “dog ate my homework”  story whole flies in the face of common sense as well as history. 

Investigating the IRS events has now gone well beyond simple political animosity. Congress needs appoint a special prosecutor. History will chronicle the outcome.

 

[1] Source: Nixon Articles of Impeachment http://classes.lls.edu/archive/manheimk/371d1/nixonarticles.html

1 of 9 11/16/2011 10:49 AM

 

From → Uncategorized

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: