What Trump and Nixon have in common

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By: Graham Dano, Columnist

On Monday, April 9, agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) raided the law office of one of President Trump’s personal attorneys, Michael Cohen. They seized hundreds of documents, several flash drives and a check register that included a $130,000 payout to a Ms. Cliffords, the real name of the famous porn star Stormy Daniels. Ms. Cliffords had an alleged affair with Mr. Trump back in 2006, long before he ran for President. To keep it quiet during the 2016 campaign, Mr. Cohen paid her off out of his own pocket.

Mr. Cohen, now a legal representative of the President of the United States, is under increasing scrutiny from the Bureau for these fishy practices, and may be called to testify in Special Prosecutor Robert Muller’s Russia probe very soon as a result. This whole Trump presidency has so far been marred by similar examples of deceit, hushing of unruly subordinates and the firing of many a Cabinet or Executive Branch officials.

Certainly former President Obama’s administration had some issues as well, and it was not perfect in how it handled itself, but generally, when Obama hired somebody, they served either a four or eight-year term in its entirety, without being suddenly shown the door for saying something bad or slightly unflattering about their boss. Obama had thicker skin than Trump in that regard, for sure.

Trump has shown many characteristics similar to another administration, one that was elected about 50 years before his: that of President Richard M. Nixon. I just finished the third volume in the excellent trilogy Stephen Ambrose wrote about Nixon, with this one covering the years of Nixon’s life from 1973-90.

In 1972, Richard Nixon won in a landslide over George McGovern (49 out of 50 states) in the kind of manner Trump could only dream of. Unfortunately for Tricky Dick, several big mistakes were made: the Nixon-authorized break in at Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C., and the lack of Republican and Democratic allies he had in the House and Senate.

Two big differences exist, however: Nixon didn’t have a Republican majority in either house of Congress (Trump has both), and while Nixon moved quickly to fire the Special Prosecutor for Watergate, Archibald Cox, Trump has wisely not done the same yet, yet continually hints at doing so.

Additionally, Nixon was an experienced politician who had a good 15-20 years of political experience when he first ran for President in 1960 against John F. Kennedy, while Trump had only run for office once in 2000 before getting the Republican nomination in 2016. Also, based on their personal writings alone, Nixon was a good deal smarter than Trump.

Regardless of their differences, Trump and Nixon do have a lot in common. Both have no love lost for the media, often attacking and discrediting it. Both are very coarse, vulgar men that claim to speak for the “silent majority” of Middle America, and both had a love of Russian leaders to some extent.

Nixon had an amiable personal relationship with Leonid Brezhnev, General Secretary of the Soviet Union, that led to the SALT Arms Reduction Treaty, while Trump has continually praised the autocratic leader of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin. I hope Congress shows the same fortitude in 2018 that it did in 1974, and takes steps to impeach Trump as it did with Nixon before the latter resigned in August of that year.