Will the Hearings about the January 6th Insurrection Attempt Change Anyone’s Mind?

The 1973 Watergate hearings changed popular opinion after Richard Nixon’s landslide win. Here’s what is — and isn’t — different today.
by Stephen Engelberg

…The Watergate hearings changed the nation’s perception of President Richard Nixon, laying the groundwork for his impeachment.

The hearings, and the role played by Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein in exposing the Nixon administration’s corruption, inspired a generation of young people to become investigative journalists. I was one of them…

Many commentators have argued that given the current fractured political and media culture, Nixon would not have left office had the crimes of 1972 and 1973 taken place today; he could have been confident that 34 senators of his own party would stand by him, regardless of the evidence.

I’m not so sure. It’s certainly true that the major television networks broadcast gavel-to-gavel coverage on what amounted to nearly all channels available in that pre-cable period of our nation’s history. It would be decades before the creation of a network that would deliver an alternate reality in which an event like the Jan. 6 hearings could go mostly uncovered.

RTFA. Draw your own conclusions. That ticking clock will catch up with history and these hearings…sooner or later. And we’ll all learn who has it right.

Former White House Counsel says, Trump’s promise to rioters is “the stuff of dictators”

Donald Trump’s promise to pardon supporters who attacked the US Capitol on January 6 2021 was “the stuff of dictators”, Richard Nixon’s White House counsel warned.

Trump made the promise at a rally in Conroe, Texas, on Saturday.

More than 700 people have been charged in connection with the Capitol attack, around which seven people died as Trump supporters tried to stop certification of his election defeat, in service of his lie that it was caused by electoral fraud. More than 100 police officers were hurt…

John Dean, 83, was White House counsel from 1970 to 1973 before being disbarred and detained as a result of the Watergate scandal, which led to Nixon’s resignation in 1974. Dean responded to Trump on Twitter.

“This is beyond being a demagogue to the stuff of dictators,” he wrote. “He is defying the rule of law. Failure to confront a tyrant only encourages bad behaviour. If thinking Americans don’t understand what Trump is doing and what the criminal justice system must do we are all in big trouble!”

I hope more than half the voting Americans turn out to be “thinking” Americans, John.

Trump brings us Echoes of Watergate


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❝ In dramatically casting aside James B. Comey, President Trump fired the man who may have helped make him president — and the man who potentially most threatened the future of his presidency.

Not since Watergate has a president dismissed the person leading an investigation bearing on him, and Mr. Trump’s decision late Tuesday afternoon drew instant comparisons to the Saturday Night Massacre when President Richard M. Nixon ordered the firing of Archibald Cox, the special prosecutor looking into the so-called third-rate burglary that would eventually bring Nixon down.

❝ “With or without Mr. Comey, the F.B.I. will continue to investigate the 2016 campaign as it relates to Russian intervention,” said Timothy Naftali, a former director of the Richard M. Nixon presidential library. “This is another kind of mistake. Unless Attorney General Sessions can prove malfeasance or gross negligence by Comey, the timing of this action further deepens suspicions that President Trump is covering up something.”

RTFA for short, broad coverage of today’s events. The criminal continues to try to paper over the investigation into his own syndicate.

Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward celebrate the White House Press Corp

❝ Before comedian Hasan Minhaj got up to poke fun at the assembled White House press corps…Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein got up to celebrate it.

The legendary Watergate duo gave a speech evoking their investigative reporting of the Nixon administration and calling on the current generation of journalists to practice careful, thorough and relentless reporting on the current White House.

RTFA – the complete text – if you missed some point or want to copy it down. Worth listening to, remembering.

CIA director’s letter – written on V-E Day on Hitler’s stationery

At CIA headquarters in Langley, one of the newest artifacts in the agency’s private museum is a message from a father to his 3-year-old son. The gold-embossed letterhead features a swastika and the name Adolf Hitler.

“Dear Dennis,” the seven-sentence letter begins. “The man who might have written on this card once controlled Europe — three short years ago when you were born. Today he is dead, his memory despised, his country in ruins.”

Dennis is Dennis Helms, now a 69-year-old intellectual-property lawyer in New Jersey. The letter writer was his father, Richard Helms, the CIA director during the Vietnam War and Watergate eras, who died in 2002. Right after Germany’s surrender, Lt. Helms, an intelligence operative, sneaked into Hitler’s chancellery in Berlin and pilfered the Fuehrer’s stationery. He dated the letter “V-E day” for May 8, 1945.

The letter astounded the CIA museum’s curatorial staff when it was acquired in May — and not only because Helms wrote with such paternal tenderness. It also conveyed a certain historical intuition about the evil that one man could do. The letter happened to arrive at Langley the day after Osama bin Laden was killed in May…

The Hitler letter arrived in a brown envelope, postmarked May 29, 1945, and bearing two 3-cent purple stamps with the words: “WIN THE WAR.” The recipient: “Master Dennis J. Helms c/o Mrs. Richard Helms,” of Orange, N.J.

After his introductory lines, Helms wrote of Hitler:

“He had a thirst for power, a low opinion of man as an individual, and a fear of intellectual honesty. He was a force for evil in the world. His passing, his defeat — a boon to mankind. But thousands died that it might be so.”

Hitler was notorious for spying on his staff, party activists, the people of Germany. His paranoia allowed no trust or honesty. That this letter derives from Richard Helms provides an interesting parallel in egregious behavior.

Helms stayed on with the OSS after the war, through the transition to becoming the CIA. On board through the Cold War years he became director in 1967 during the VietNam War. He refused to coverup Watergate for Richard Nixon in 1972 – leading to his transfer out in 1973 to be Ambassador to Iran.