Many bright young people come to Washington — to do good. Some do right well. A few others go to jail. But most eventually end up feeling various degrees of disgust.
In 1973, recently out of graduate school and immediately following a stint as the New York director of research for President Richard Nixon’s reelection campaign, I arrived in Washington to oversee an organization of young Republican professionals — giving me a front-row seat to the Watergate scandal. All scandals are different, but many of those caught up in them act in the same predictable ways. The increasingly unwilling participants in the Biden crime family scandal are acting in much the same way as those in or around the Nixon administration did during Watergate.
Nixon had a record landslide over George McGovern in 1972 because McGovern had been portrayed as soft on defense (the Soviet Union was viewed as a real threat by most people), incompetent on economic issues, and off in la-la land on social issues. Many feared that it would be the end of the American republic if McGovern were elected; therefore, no action to prevent his election was viewed as too extreme. In the same way, some of the never-Trumpers believe it is OK to violate the Constitution to prevent former President Donald Trump’s reelection.
The first reaction of a president’s supporters is that the president knew nothing about it (i.e., the Watergate break-in or Hunter Biden’s pay-for-play). In Nixon’s case, the evidence is that he did not have prior knowledge or approve of the break-in, but when he learned that some of those involved did have connections to the White House, the reelection campaign, the FBI and the CIA, he helped organize the cover-up — big mistake.
As with Nixon, as more and more evidence of President Biden’s knowledge of the crimes comes out and his supporters look increasingly silly, fewer and fewer will remain loyalists. Rep. Dan Goldman of New York, a strong, knowledgeable and articulate Democratic defender of the president, tried to argue this past week that the 20 or so phone calls revealed by Devon Archer made to Mr. Biden during Hunter Biden’s meetings with corrupt foreign parties might have been “about the weather.” Mr. Goldman will forever be remembered for that comment. Visualize the movie: “Yeah, the phone call was only about the weather.”
The people at the Justice Department, the FBI, or on the White House staff who in some way or another are trying to cover for the president do so out of personal and party loyalties. They unrealistically assume they will be protected by their higher-ups. It would be wise for them to read many of the books written by those who were convicted of Watergate-related crimes and hung out to dry. The books are instructive about how basically good people, with many regrets, got caught up in something and failed to extract themselves until it was too late.
In Watergate, 69 people were indicted, and 48 officials were convicted, including two U.S. attorneys general (John Mitchell and Richard Kleindienst). Mitchell was convicted of “conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and perjury” and served prison time as a result. Merrick Garland, the current attorney general, appears likely to have committed or is committing those same crimes. Mr. Garland, read history: You are not above the law, and the chances are, if you fail to come clean soon, you are likely to have the same fate as the late John Mitchell.
One of the ironies is that it is unlikely that any of those who were convicted in Watergate had any intention of doing wrong when they came to Washington (again, most wanted to do good), and none of them actually stole money. They fell on their swords for misplaced loyalties, feelings of invincibility, or just poor judgment.
Members of Congress will behave in a predictable way. Democrats will be very unified in standing with their president. But as more and more evidence comes out (and it almost certainly will) about the Biden crime family, more Democrats will go their own way for self-preservation (particularly those in close races). The House Republicans will pass articles of impeachment, the Senate Democrats will split, and, as with Nixon, the senior Democrats in leadership will go to the president and tell him it is all over — and he can use a health excuse — but he must resign. (Perhaps some of them will even be creative enough to deal with the Kamala Harris problem.)
Initially, much of the press was skeptical about what turned out to be the Watergate scandal. Most bought into the line that it was just a third-rate burglary of little importance. The Washington Post was pretty much alone in claiming that Watergate was a big story (much like the way the New York Post was treated when it first revealed the Hunter laptop story). Some major newspapers, like the Los Angeles Times, even ran stories trying to discredit The Washington Post’s Watergate reporting. Other papers, like the Chicago Tribune and Philadelphia Inquirer, failed to report significant information, much like the major cable networks, other than Fox, have been doing with the Biden scandal. Eventually, the truth will come out, and all of those in the political and media establishment who have been in denial or part of the cover-up will once again, deservedly, look like fools or worse.
• Richard W. Rahn is chairman of the Institute for Global Economic Growth and MCon LLC.
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