Prompted by a tweet I saw, I looked up the articles of impeachment for Richard Nixon produced by the House Judiciary Committee on July 27, 1974. They read like they were written for Donald Trump instead. Some are so spot-on that they could literally be copied word for word in new articles aimed at impeaching Trump. To wit:
In his conduct of the office of President of the United States, Richard M. Nixon, in violation of his constitutional oath faithfully to execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his consitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has prevented, obstructed, and impeded the administration of justice, in that:
On June 17, 1972, and prior thereto, agents of the Committee for the Re-election of the President committed unlawful entry of the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee in Washington, District of Columbia, for the purpose of securing political intelligence. Subsequent thereto, Richard M. Nixon, using the powers of his high office, engaged personally and through his close subordinates and agents, in a course of conduct or plan designed to delay, impede, and obstruct the investigation of such illegal entry; to cover up, conceal and protect those responsible; and to conceal the existence and scope of other unlawful covert activities.The means used to implement this course of conduct or plan included one or more of the following:
- making false or misleading statements to lawfully authorized investigative officers and employees of the United States;
- withholding relevant and material evidence or information from lawfully authorized investigative officers and employees of the United States;
- approving, condoning, acquiescing in, and counselling witnesses with respect to the giving of false or misleading statements to lawfully authorized investigative officers and employees of the United States and false or misleading testimony in duly instituted judicial and congressional proceedings;
- interfering or endeavouring to interfere with the conduct of investigations by the Department of Justice of the United States, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the office of Watergate Special Prosecution Force, and Congressional Committees;…
- endeavouring to cause prospective defendants, and individuals duly tried and convicted, to expect favoured treatment and consideration in return for their silence or false testimony, or rewarding individuals for their silence or false testimony.
Here’s the big difference though: 7 Republicans out of 17 voted yes to impeachment, along with all the Democrats. If identical articles of impeachment were brought to a vote today, it is doubtful that a single Republican would vote for them. That’s because they value political convenience far stronger than they do the rule of law, the oaths they took, or the most basic principles of justice and duty.