Comparing Donald Trump to Richard Nixon is unfair — to Nixon

tags: Watergate, Nixon, Trump

Max Boot is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a member of USA Today’s Board of Contributors. Follow him on Twitter @maxboot.

Kremlingate, the scandal involving the Trump campaign’s possible ties to Russia, has already led to the firing of the FBI director, the appointment of a special counsel and hints that the president may fire the special counsel, too. Naturally this has prompted comparisons to Watergate. But the comparison is unfair — to Richard Nixon.

President Trump's situation is much more serious. He isn’t just accused of covering up a “third-rate burglary,” as White House spokesman Ron Ziegler described the break-in at the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters 45 years ago this month. He's being investigated for possibly obstructing an investigation into his associates. And they're being investigated for Russia connections as a result of a far more extensive break-in into the computer systems of the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign that was perpetrated by Russian agents.

The wiretapping of the DNC, even if successful, would not have had much impact on the 1972 election, which Nixon won in a landslide. The 2016 election was much closer — decided by just 80,000 votes in three states — and Trump touted the Clinton campaign emails released by WikiLeaks non-stop during the last month of the campaign. The Russian intervention could well have changed the course of U.S. history.

Trump openly applauded this Russian assault on our democracy. That’s bad enough. What we don’t know yet is whether he was involved in secret deals with the Russians, which would be tantamount to treason. But there is still no proof, either, that Nixon personally ordered the Watergate break-in.

As Nixon famously said: “It’s not the crime that gets you … it’s the coverup.”

Trump, who has said that he was thinking about "this Russia thing" when he fired James Comey, is now discovering the truth of those words. ...

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