If I hear one more television talking head say the Clinton crimes don't measure up to the Watergate scandal, I think I'll have an aneurysm.
Let's look at the facts.
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In 1974, the House Judiciary Committee recommended articles of impeachment against President Nixon for violating his oath to uphold the Constitution and for preventing, obstructing and impeding the administration of justice. Specifically, Nixon was accused of the following in article I:
- "Making or causing to be made false or misleading statements to lawfully authorized investigative officers and employees of the United States."
- "Withholding relevant and material evidence or information from lawfully authorized investigative officers and employees of the United States."
Have you heard this lately?
- "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."
Can you say "suborning perjury"?
- "Interfering or endeavoring to interfere with the conduct of investigations by the Department of Justice of the United States, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the office of Watergate special prosecution force and congressional committees."
Stonewalling, obstruction of justice, yada yada.
- "Approving, condoning and acquiescing in the surreptitious payments of substantial sums of money for the purpose of obtaining the silence or influencing the testimony of witnesses, potential witnesses or individuals who participated in such unlawful entry and other illegal activities."
Hush money? It worked for Webb Hubbell, too.
- "Endeavoring to misuse the Central Intelligence Agency, an agency of the United States."
OK, we don't know about the CIA, but how about the IRS? How about the FBI?
- "Disseminating information received from officers of the Department of Justice of the United States to subjects of investigations conducted by lawfully authorized investigative officers and employees of the United States for the purpose of aiding and assisting such subjects in their attempts to avoid criminal liability."
Witness tampering by any other name.
- "Making false or misleading public statements for the purpose of deceiving the people of the United States into believing that a thorough and complete investigation has been conducted with respect to allegation 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; or"
"I did not have sex with that woman -- Miss Lewinsky."
- "Endeavoring to cause prospective defendants, and individuals duly tried and convicted, to expect favored treatment and consideration in return for their silence or false testimony, or rewarding individuals for their silence or false testimony."
Calling Susan McDougal.
Then there was article II, in which Nixon was accused violating the rights of citizens:
- "He has, acting personally and through his subordinates and agents, endeavored to obtain from the Internal Revenue Service, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, confidential information contained in income tax returns for purposes not authorized by law, and to cause, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, income tax audits or other income tax investigation to be initiated or conducted in a discriminatory manner."
Exhibit A: The Western Journalism Center.
- "He misused the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Secret Service, and other executive personnel, in violation or disregard of the constitutional rights of citizens, by directing or authorizing such agencies or personnel to conduct or continue electronic surveillance or other investigations for purposes unrelated to national security, the enforcement of laws, or any other lawful function of his office; he did direct, authorize, or permit the use of information obtained thereby for purposes unrelated to national security, the enforcement of laws, or any other lawful function of his office; and he did direct the concealment of certain records made by the Federal Bureau of Investigation of electronic surveillance."
Did someone say Filegate?
- "He has, acting personally and through his subordinates and agents, in violation or disregard of the constitutional rights of citizens, authorized and permitted to be maintained a secret investigative unit with the office of the president, financed in part with money derived from campaign contributions to him, which unlawfully utilized the resources of the Central Intelligence Agency, engaged in covert and unlawful activities, and attempted to prejudice the constitutional right of an accused to a fair trial."
Terry Lenzner, where are you?
- "He has failed to take care that the laws were faithfully executed by failing to act when he knew or had reason to know that his close subordinates endeavored to impede and frustrate lawful inquiries by duly constituted executive; judicial and legislative entities concerning the unlawful entry into the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee, and the cover-up thereof, and concerning other unlawful activities including those relating to the confirmation of Richard Kleindienst as attorney general of the United States, the electronic surveillance of private citizens, the break-in into the office of D. Lewis Fielding, and the campaign financing practices of the Committee to Re-Elect the President."
Gee, campaign finance abuses? Hmmmm.
- "In disregard of the rule of law: he knowingly misused the executive power by interfering with agencies of the executive branch: including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Criminal Division and the Office of Watergate Special Prosecution Force of the Department of Justice, in violation of his duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed."
Obstruction, abuse of power -- where have I heard this before?
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And article III?
"In his conduct of the office of president of the United States, Richard M. Nixon, contrary to his oath faithfully to execute the office of the president of the United States, and to the best of his ability preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, had failed without lawful cause or excuse, to produce papers and things as directed by duly authorized subpoenas issued by the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives, on April 11, 1974, May 5, 1974, May 30, 1974, and June 24, 1974, and willfully disobeyed such subpoenas. The subpoenaed papers and things were deemed necessary by the committee in order to resolve by direct evidence fundamental, factual questions relating to presidential direction, knowledge or approval of actions demonstrated by other evidence to be substantial grounds for impeachment of the president. In refusing to produce these papers and things, Richard M. Nixon, substituting his judgment as to what materials were necessary for the inquiry, interposed the powers of the presidency against the lawful subpoenas of the House of Representatives, thereby assuming to himself functions and judgments necessary to the exercise of the sole power of impeachment vested by the Constitution in the House of Representatives.
In all this, Richard M. Nixon has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as president and subversive of constitutional government, to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice, and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States. Wherefore, Richard M. Nixon, by such conduct, warrants impeachment and trial and removal from office."
Let's remember, this last article was drafted after many weeks of hearings by the House Judiciary Committee. Even before similar hearings take place on the conduct of this administration, it's easy to see that Clinton is every bit as guilty as Nixon. And that's before we even start talking about Chinagate, Travelgate, Whitewater and dozens of other scandals yet concluded.
So, enough. Let's not have any more talk about Watergate being more serious than the crimes of the Clinton administration.