Still less than three months into his presidency, Donald Trump is facing charges of Nixonian proportions. If the allegations of collusion between members of Trump’s staff and the Russian government prove true, before and after the election, then he is facing a crisis greater than any President in history. Nixon resigned because he faced certain impeachment on charges of obstruction of justice. Trump and his minions could possibly face charges of treason.
The White House is already skirting dangerously close to the edge of obstruction of justice. Sally Yates, the Acting Attorney General fired by Trump, was scheduled to testify before the House Intelligence Committee this week regarding information on Gen. Michael Flynn.
First, the Department of Justice said she could not testify without permission of the White House. Ms. Yates replied that any attorney-client privilege had been voided by the many public comments made by White House officials on this issue. Next, the White House claimed “executive privilege” in a further attempt to prevent her testifying. You know who else claimed executive privilege to prevent members of his administration from testifying before Congress? Right.
But as soon as Rep. Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, canceled Ms. Yates appearance before his committee, Sean Spicer claimed the White House had no problems with her testifying. Congressman Nunes has gone so far as to cancel all hearings scheduled for his committee.
But Mr. Nunes activities during the last week, that gave everyone the appearance of providing cover for Donald Trump and possibly himself were so egregious that his own hometown newspaper said “… the damage can’t be repaired. He should step down as chairman, or be removed.” The newspaper then went on to say “The integrity of the Intelligence Committee’s investigation and any hope for bipartanship have also been fatally compromised.”
Now Donald Trump, without the least bit of irony, is calling for an investigation of collusion between the Clinton campaign and Russia.
This is classic:
- We never did it.
- We may have done it, but it was no big deal.
- Some other dude did it.
Nunes, acting to protect an administration that is under a criminal investigation by the FBI, may well be able to shut down a House investigation into the Trump-Russia connection. If he does, then the taint of a cover up will be his permanent legacy. But the Senate is waiting to hold their own investigations, and they have signaled their intention of calling Sally Yates, among others, to testify.
In the case of Richard Nixon, it was the cover up, not the crime, that brought him down. However, in the case of Donald Trump, the possible crime is not a “third-rate burglary” but potential charges of treason. So they might well be willing to risk a cover up than face the crime.