Excerpts from the chapter: "Any Republican Will Do"
Any Republican Will Do
One of my earliest childhood memories is sitting near a small black and white television and watching the Watergate scandal and the drama surrounding President Richard Nixon. I am 55 years old, so at that time I would have been 8 or 9 years old. To refresh my memory, I did a quick Google search and found an easy to digest article outlining the history of Watergate.
What I found in the article were themes that eerily resemble the drama surrounding America’s current state of affairs: a sitting US Republican president trying to interfere with the election of a Democratic contender, a president trying to resist the release of recordings and other materials while under investigation, and a president facing impeachment charges for obstruction of justice, abuse of power, criminal cover-up and several violations of the Constitution.
I imagine that Watergate would not have much significance for anyone born in the '70s or later. For those who might need a little historical perspective and information on Watergate, here is David Millward's article:
“What was Watergate and why did Nixon face impeachment?
David Millward, us correspondent 20 MAY 2017 • 1:01 AM
What was the Watergate burglary?
Richard Nixon was on course for a comfortable win in the 1972 presidential election when, on June 17, five burglars were caught prowling around the Democratic National Committee offices in the Watergate Hotel in the heart of Washington DC. This was the second raid on the building. Burglars had broken in late May and made off with secret documents as well as planting listening devices on office phones. They returned to plant fresh bugs on the DNC phones, because the first batch turned out to be faulty. This time they were not so lucky with a security guard noticing that there was tape on some of the locks on the building including from the underground car park. The five men were charged with attempted burglary and attempted interception of telephone and other communications.
What linked the burglars to the Nixon campaign?
The five, who were caught red-handed, included James McCord. McCord, a former FBI and CIA agent, was security co-ordinator for the Republican National Committee and the Committee for the Re-election of the President - a body known as CREEP. The police secured search warrants for the burglars' rooms at the Watergate hotel. There they found address books containing the name ‘H Hunt WH’ - and a White House telephone number.
It also emerged that G. Gordon Liddy, who supervised the burglary but did not enter the building, was General Counsel on CREEP's finance committee.
Liddy and Hunt were also two of the ‘White House Plumbers,’ a special team set up to plug the leaking of sensitive classified information. The five burglars, along with Howard Hunt and Gordon Liddy appeared before a Grand Jury on September 15.
Did the burglary have an impact on the result?
No, Nixon trounced George McGovern, his left-wing Democrat opponent.
Nixon took 60.7 percent of the vote, winning 49 states and 520 seats in the Electoral College. McGovern won one state - Massachusetts - along with Washington DC, taking only 17 Electoral College seats and a 37.5 percent of the votes. Did Nixon have any advance knowledge of the burglary? The evidence is not conclusive, but on balance it looks as if he did not know what was being done in his name. Some believe he did have advanced knowledge, but most experts believe that as ruthless and sharp operator as Nixon would not have sanctioned as hamfisted an operation as the Watergate burglary.
According to a taped conversation between Nixon and H.R. Haldeman, his chief of staff, a furious president asked: ‘Who was the a**hole who ordered it?’
How did Nixon get involved?
Worried by the damage disclosure that his election team was involved in the Watergate burglaries, Nixon and his team tried to contain the damage.
The five burglars, who received hundreds of thousands of dollars in hush money, pleaded guilty heading off a trial. McCord and Liddy were convicted of conspiracy, burglary, and illegal wiretapping. Publicly Nixon promised there would be ‘no whitewash at the White House,’ but behind the scenes, there were frantic efforts to cover the tracks of a conspiracy which would lead to the President's closest advisers. But within a week of the burglary, Nixon was concerned that the FBI was delving into uncomfortable territory. In discussions with Haldeman, he suggested that the CIA - who he hoped would be more malleable - take over the inquiry. Nixon was also involved in raising large amounts of money. The CIA was instructed to undermine the FBI's investigation of the break-in at a time when suspicions were growing that the conspiracy involved far more people than the seven who were indicted following the burglary.
How did the plot unravel?
The involvement of several men linked to the Nixon election campaign piqued the interest of two Washington Post reporters, Bob Woodward, and Carl Bernstein. At the same time, the FBI was making progress. Less than two months after the burglars were arrested, the FBI found a $25,000 cheque which had been earmarked for the Nixon campaign in the bank account of one of those arrested. Some of the material from the investigation reached Bernstein and Woodward thanks to their secret source - known as ‘Deep Throat’ - recently disclosed as the FBI's associate director, Mark Felt. John Sirica, who presided over the burglars' trial, was also convinced that those arrested had not acted alone. Putting pressure on defendants - such as offering leniency if they provided information - he succeeded in breaking through the wall of silence. It was McCord who broke, sending Sirica a letter in which he said that he and his fellow defendants had been put under ‘political pressure to plead guilty and remain silent.’ His letter on March 23 1973 implicated John Dean, White House Counsel, and Jeb Magruder CREEP's deputy director in the cover-up which followed the burglary. The Senate, meanwhile, was conducting its own investigation and Dean, who had hired his own lawyer, was co-operating with the committee and prosecutors. He was sacked by Nixon on April 30 1973. On the same day, the White House announced the resignations of two of the President's most senior advisers, Haldeman and John Ehrlichman, his chief domestic adviser - the two men known as the ‘Berlin Wall.’
So how did Nixon get ensnared in the scandal?
Nixon had installed a secret taping system in parts of the White House, executive office and official retreat at Camp David in 1971. Their existence was disclosed by Alexander Butterfield in July 1973, when he appeared before the Senate Watergate Committee. Nixon fought tooth and nail to prevent the release of the tapes, which laid bare the extent of the cover-up and his involvement. Archibald Cox, who had been appointed special prosecutor by the administration, demanded the tapes as did the senate committee. Cox was fired on October 20 1973 in what became known as the Saturday Night Massacre - prompting the resignation of several senior Department of Justice officials. Nixon, meanwhile, agreed to release some - but not all - of the tapes.
What brought Nixon down?
On March 1 1974 a grand jury, appointed by Cox's successor, Leon Jaworski, not only indicted seven of Nixon's former aides but named the President as an ‘unindicted conspirator.’ In July the Supreme Court ordered Nixon to turn over the remaining tapes, which he again tried to resist. The House of Representatives lost patience, voting to impeach Nixon for obstruction of justice, abuse of power, criminal cover-up and several violations of the Constitution. The tapes which were released on August 5 provided compelling evidence of Nixon's complicity in the Watergate cover-up. With impeachment by the Senate certain, he resigned on August 8 1974.” (Millward, 2017)
Recently, however, it seems that the American people have forgotten that we don't have just one national leader, like a king. Though the President has shown great admiration for Vladimir Putin, he is not in the same position as Putin, who can make decisions unilaterally, without opposition and accountability.
We have a president and three branches of government that are a check and balance to each other. Our three branches of government and the American concept of Democracy reflect the incredible foresight and wisdom of the Founding Fathers. We should pray for all of the branches of government in America, as they are all are part of God's established authority as outlined in Romans 13:
Rom 13:1-3 (NIV) “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended.”
The President of the United States is subject to the laws approved by Congress and the Supreme Court. If the President is rebelling against these laws, he is rebelling against the governing authorities, and he will rightly bring judgment upon himself.
We are all called to subject ourselves? to the governing authorities. Colin Powell's quote illustrates this point with a recent example of the President's behavior:
"And I see things happening that are hard to understand. A couple weeks ago the President put a circle around south east Alabama, saying it's going to get hit by a hurricane. He put it on top of the meteorological prediction," he said. "In my time, one of us would have gone to the president and said, 'Mr. President, you screwed up, so we've got to fix it, and we'll put out a correction.' You know what they did this time? They ordered the Commerce Department to go out and backup whatever the President mis-said. This is not the way the country's supposed to run, and Congress is one of the institutions that should be doing something about this."
Powell concluded, "The media has a role to play, we all have a role to play, you've got to remember that all these pieces are a part of our government. Executive branch, Congress, Supreme Court, and of the Fourth Estate, and we've got to remember that the Constitution started with, 'We the People,' not 'Me the President." (Colin Powell) (Becker, 2019)
The Bible says in a multitude of counselors, there is safety (Prov 11:14, 15:22). It also says that we should pray for all who in authority that we may live peaceful and quiet lives (2 Tim 2:2). In that regard, I also pray for the President's staff, the Congress, and the Supreme Court.
I believe that the "authority" outlined in Chapter 13 of Romans doesn't stop at the three branches of government. It also extends to government agencies.
At the time of this writing, the president has been impeached, and we are awaiting the outcome of the trial in the Senate. The whole impeachment process started with a "whistleblower" from a government agency then grew to include testimony from members of other government agencies, most notably the State Department. These brave men and women helped to bring out the truth of the President's intentions in dealing with Ukraine. I look at this as an answer to prayer.
My prayer is that God, in His mercy, will continue to raise up righteous men and women in authority with the courage to confront the President, amidst the vast sea of men and women in authority in the government and in the Church, who are afraid to.
Ezekiel 22:30, (World English Bible) says, "I sought for a man among them, who should build up the wall, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found none. I do not believe that God would have had to raise up men and women in our government agencies to check the President's misconduct if our Christian and nationally elected leaders would have used their considerable influence collectively to do so.
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