Assume you have been a high-ranking government official and are called to testify before Congress. You have knowledge of unethical or worse behavior by some of your former colleagues, most of whom are still friends. If you reveal what you know, this could result in serious legal and political problems for many of them, including the president of the United States, whom you strongly supported. Would you deny what you know, which would subject you to a potential perjury charge, including possible prison time, or would you tell the truth?

Last week, former acting CIA Director Michael J. Morell, confronted with that choice, made the right decision and told the truth.

Investigative journalist John Solomon reported that Mr. Morell admitted to Congress that he “organized the letter [signed by 51 former senior intelligence officials] that falsely portrayed Hunter Biden’s laptop as Russian disinformation in an effort to influence the 2020 election in favor of Joe Biden, and that he did so at the direction of current Secretary of State Antony Blinken.”

Mr. Morell’s confession is just the latest in the unraveling of the narrative that the Biden family, including the president, was not engaged in improper and probably illegal behavior.

This unraveling resembles all too much the Watergate scandal, where I had an upfront seat. In 1972, fresh out of graduate school, I took a leave from the university where I was teaching to take a position in President Richard Nixon’s reelection campaign as director of research in New York. During those months, I became acquainted with a few of the people who were subsequently charged with crimes.

In June 1972, there was a break-in at Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office building in Washington. It did not receive all that much press attention at the time, even from the mainstream media, which hated Nixon. (Offices of political and campaign organizations usually have little security with many people coming and going; so, as a matter of practice, not much of value is kept in such offices — thus, the break-in was treated more as an oddity than something serious.) The White House immediately denied all knowledge, and in fact, the president was not aware of the break-in beforehand.

Over the next few months, it was revealed that some of those caught in the break-in had White House and CIA or FBI connections. Facts about the involvement of senior campaign and White House officials slowly emerged in the months leading up to the election in November 1972, but the money flows had not yet been exposed. Nixon went on to win in a landslide with more than 60% of the popular vote and almost all the electoral votes.

Once Nixon and his senior staff became fully aware of what “their guys” had done, they began a cover-up, resulting in the president’s resignation and jail time for a few of his aides. The irony was that if the president and his senior staff had come clean immediately after the break-in, not much probably would have happened, because many campaigns get saddled with rogue actors, who are then fired, and the world moves on.

Only after the 1972 election did considerable press and congressional attention focus on the incident, and day by day, more was revealed, particularly about the cover-up and lies under oath.

As Nixon’s negatives rose in early 1973, the White House and the world suddenly (because of an unrelated court action) became aware that Vice President Spiro Agnew had accepted bribes when he was Baltimore County executive, making him unsuitable to become president if Nixon had to leave.

Fortunately, at that time, there were some wise heads in the leadership of both parties in Congress who were able to engineer a deal where Agnew would resign. Nixon would then appoint Rep. Gerald Ford (House minority leader) as vice president, who would be confirmed by Congress. When Nixon left, Ford selected former New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller as VP, who was confirmed by Congress. In retrospect, it all went remarkably smoothly.

People in the Nixon White House, CIA and FBI who never had any intention of doing anything wrong, to their lifelong regret, got caught up in Watergate because of what turned out to be misplaced loyalty to their colleagues and the president rather than the Constitution. Eventually, most of them did tell the truth and apologized, but often too late to avoid jail time or fines.

I expect that there are many Democrats in the Department of Justice, FBI, IRS, and other government agencies who know things they wish they didn’t know. There will be almost nonstop congressional hearings on the alleged Biden crime family. More and more members of the press now smell blood, and despite being Democrats, they will no longer be able to resist the competitive urge for scoops.

Those who think they can protect President Biden by not handing up indictments or engaging in a cover-up have not learned the lessons of Watergate, where two attorneys general and others went to jail. How many will go to jail or be disgraced this time?

After the history books have closed on this scandal, the only ones who will walk away with few regrets will be those who have the courage to speak the truth and stand up for the Constitution.

• Richard W. Rahn is chairman of the Institute for Global Economic Growth and MCon LLC.

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