A sign in Washington, D.C. Photo: Mike Maguire
Notes from Indian Country
Russiagate: There’s a smell of treason in the air
By Tim Giago (Nanwica Kciji – Stands Up for Them)
Things in Washington are beginning to smell a lot like Watergate. Or as one reporter put it, “There’s a smell of treason in the air.”
John Dean, the former White House Counsel to President Richard Nixon leading up to the Watergate scandal made some off-handed comparisons on the Rachel Maddow Show last week. He noted how the Cabinet of Donald Trump was distancing themselves from people like John Manafort, ex-Trump campaign chair, because of his close ties to the Russian oligarchs.
Nixon had his Watergate and like him I believe Trump is about to have his “Russiagate.”
In 1968 Nixon made secret efforts to undermine diplomatic efforts to end the Vietnam War in order to improve his chances of winning that year. When he did win the war dragged on and many more thousands of Americans and Vietnamese lost their lives; all in the name of winning an election.
On June 17, 1972 several burglars were arrested inside of the office of the Democratic National Committee. The burglars were connected to the Nixon re-election campaign. Oddly enough, in 2016 Russian hackers broke into the files of the Democratic National Committee’s computers and pilfered emails, etc., that would be turned over to WikiLeaks for gradual dissemination to the media in an effort to damage the campaign of Hillary Clinton. Since the break in at Watergate happened long before there were computers and the Internet, the burglars had the same objectives in mind except they had to do it the old fashioned way.
The FBI has been investigating whether Trump’s campaign colluded with a foreign power to win the election. It should be noted that there appears to be a bit of persuasive intelligence that ties the Trump campaign to a connection to Russia and this evidence has not been disclosed publicly yet.
The Associated Press reports that Manafort secretly worked for a Russian billionaire close to Putin and he had signed a $10 million per year contract in 2006 to promote the goals and interests of the Putin government. In the contract Manafort agreed to “influence politics, business dealings and news coverage inside the United States, Europe and in the former Soviet republics in order to benefit Putin.”
The next puzzler that if proven true would probably bring an end to Trump’s presidency: Did Russia funnel any money into the coffers of the Trump campaign?
Nixon fought tooth and nail to cover-up his and his campaigns connection to the Watergate break in. According to an AP story in early in 1974, the cover-up began to fall apart. On March 1, a grand jury appointed by a new special prosecutor indicted seven of Nixon’s former aides on various charges related to the Watergate affair. The jury, unsure if they could indict a sitting president, called Nixon an “unindicted co-conspirator.”
In July, the Supreme Court ordered Nixon to turn over the tapes. While the president dragged his feet, the House of Representatives voted to impeach him for obstruction of justice, abuse of power, criminal cover-up and several violations of the Constitution. Finally, on August 5, Nixon released the tapes, which provided undeniable evidence of his complicity in the Watergate crimes. In the face of certain impeachment by the Senate, the president resigned on August 8.
The Trump saga, much like Nixon’s, is like an onion that is starting to unravel one ring at a time. Every day a new revelation exposes a little more of the onion. And like the Nixon people, Trump’s cohorts are shoveling like crazy to cover any evidence of their collusion with Russia.
And what is most troubling is that there was an attack upon the Democratic government of the United States by a foreign power and it should not matter to any Republican that their party was involved. It should matter that this attack is unprecedented and could severely damage forever the very fabric of American Democracy. It should go without saying that every member of any political party should put country first and partisan politics last.
The historian Douglas Brinkley said, “There is a smell of treason in the air,” and he is so right. Or as Lincoln phrased it, “A Nation divided cannot stand.” If ever the politicians of this country needed to set aside party in favor of unity the time is now. An attack against one party is an attack on all.
Trump’s campaign looked upon the election of 2016 as a big game that they could manipulate. They failed to understand that this is still a nation of laws and there is a penalty for breaking those laws.
Winning at any cost has long been the forte of Donald J. Trump. To him losing has never been an option and how he wins is incidental. If winning meant colluding with a foreign power to sabotage our Democratic form of government, so be it. The Donald is about to pay the piper.
Tim Giago is the former publisher of Indian Country Today and the founder of the Native American Journalists Association. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org