Robert Reich writes that both Richard Nixon and Donald Trump abused the power of the presidency. But there is one big difference between the two men:
The difference between Richard Nixon's abuse of power (trying to get dirt on political opponents to help with his 1972 reelection, and then covering it up) and Donald Trump's abuse (trying to get Ukraine's president to get dirt on a political opponent to help with his 2020 reelection, and then covering it up) isn't just that Nixon's involved a botched robbery at the Watergate while Trump's involves a foreign nation.
It's that Nixon's abuse of power was discovered during his second term, after he was reelected. He was still a dangerous crook, but by that time he had no reason to inflict still more damage on American democracy.
Yesterday's revelations, from both Trump and three congressional committees, make one thing -- as Nixon used to say -- "perfectly clear." If Trump wins the 2020 election, all bets are off:
As we've learned, Trump uses whatever bargaining leverage he can get, for personal gain. That's the art of the deal.
Who can we count on to protect our election process in 2020?
Good question. Don't look to the Justice Department to ensure justice:
Certainly not Attorney General William Barr. Trump urged Zelensky to work with Barr to investigate Joe Biden, even telling Zelensky that Barr would follow up with his own phone call.
Barr's Justice Department decided Trump had not acted illegally, and told the acting director of national intelligence to keep the whistle-blower complaint from Congress.
This is the same Attorney General who said Mueller's report cleared the Trump campaign of conspiring with Russia when in fact Mueller had found that the campaign welcomed Russia's help, and that Mueller absolved Trump of obstructing justice when Mueller specifically declined to decide the matter.
The ultimate check is Republican senators. And, at this point, they're in Trump's pocket.