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Who's really the victim of Watergate 2

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President Nixon during Watergate scandal

 

 

WASHINGTON – They say the cover-up is often worse than the crime itself.

 

That’s what the pundits explained when it came to the most famous political scandal in American history – Watergate.

 

What was the crime?

 

In 1972, as President Richard Nixon was sailing to a big re-election victory over his opponent, the somewhat hapless Sen. George McGovern, D-S.D., members of the Committee to Re-Elect the President, nicknamed CREEP, devised a plan to break in to the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate hotel for the purpose of bugging telephones.

 

There were two break-ins, the first May 28, to plant two bugging devices, and a second June 17 for a repair job.

 

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It was on June 17 that a Watergate security guard, Frank Wills, discovered tape on a door that prevented it from locking. He removed it and came back later, only to find the tape had been replaced. He called the police who discovered the five burglars in the office of the DNC – James McCord, Bernard Baker, Virgilio Gonzales, Eugenio Martinez and Frank Sturgis. They were arrested and charged with attempted burglary and attempted interception of telephone and other communications. On Sept. 15, a grand jury indicted them, as well as Howard Hunt and G. Gordon Liddy, for conspiracy, burglary, and violation of federal wiretapping laws. The five burglars who broke into the office were tried by a jury, Judge John Sirica officiating, and were convicted on Jan. 30, 1973, 20 days after Nixon was sworn in for a second term following his landslide victory over McGovern.

 

Though Nixon himself was shielded from any knowledge of the crime, he was drawn into a cover-up that prompted an impeachment investigation in the House, Senate hearings broadcast live to the nation, two special counsel investigations, the resignation and sacking of his entire inner circle and, ultimately, to the resignation of the president himself on Aug. 8, 1974.

 

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What was once dubbed by a Nixon spokesman as “a third rate burglary” ended up bringing down Nixon. Indeed, for him, the cover-up in which he participated was worse than the crime.

 

Last week, Hillary Clinton, who, ironically, played a role in the impeachment investigation of Nixon, claimed she, too, was a victim in a Watergate-style conspiracy implicating Donald Trump.

 

Four decades after five men broke into the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate, Hillary Clinton’s campaign is trying to frame the hacking of her campaign chairman’s email as a repeat of the most famous political scandal in American history – and to directly implicate Donald Trump.

 

“What did Trump know, and when did he know it?” the campaign asked in an essay in Medium, a play on the famous question by Sen. Howard Baker, R-Tenn., in the Senate’s Watergate investigation: “What did the president know and when did he know it?”

 

“We’re witnessing another effort to steal private campaign documents in order to influence an election,” Clinton campaign spokesman Glen Caplin wrote. “… only this time, instead of filing cabinets, it’s people’s emails they’re breaking into … and a foreign government is behind it.”

 

What got under the Clinton campaign’s skin was media coverage of campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails, released by the thousands on WikiLeaks.

 

It was the second email scandal of the Clinton campaign – the first being high-level security breaches of her own emails as secretary of state on an unsecured private email server. The Podesta emails include portions of paid speeches Mrs. Clinton delivered to Wall Street banks in which she advocates for “open borders” and the formation of a European Union-style merger of the U.S. with Mexico and Canada and in which she courts Goldman Sachs’ officials for support of her pro-banking policies. She explained to the audience assembled by the financial institution why it is necessary for her to maintain both a “public and private position” on controversial political issues.

 

In invoking the specter of Watergate, the Clinton campaign was attempting to make the case that the media should ignore the emails – just as Nixon and his surrogates tried to persuade the press to ignore his own burgeoning scandal.

 

Clinton press secretary, and former Justice Department spokesman, Brian Fallon, first compared the Wiki release to Watergate in a tweet. But the Medium commentary piece marked what appears to be, as reported in Politico, a “deliberate push that will carry through the final three weeks of the campaign to frame the emails as part of a criminal hack – and to make the electronic files seem as compromised to the media and to voters as reading and reporting on a stolen physical document.”

 

Trump, they say, or at least his close advisers, are connected directly to the hack, which the Clinton campaign insists is tied to Russia – and specifically Vladimir Putin.

 

“Donald Trump needs to condemn these illegal hacks and denounce Russian efforts to intervene in our election,” Caplin writes. “Why is Trump protecting Putin by lying about Russia’s role in these hacks? What did his campaign know and when did they know it? Why won’t he condemn this? With less than a month until Election Day, these are the questions we need answered – and soon.”

 

But there is, as yet, no proof that Russia is involved in the hacking of Podesta’s emails.

 

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And given Mrs. Clinton’s own record of using insecure private servers during her years as secretary of state, her credibility on cyber-security matters is somewhat questionable. She has admitted she made mistakes during those years but escaped prosecution for passing classified and even top-secret information – offenses for which other lower-level government officials are currently serving time in prison.

 

Is this really Watergate?

 

Or is it a counteroffensive by a campaign that has recently been exposed for conducting Watergate-style “dirty tricks” of its own?

 

Is Hillary Clinton the victim or the perpetrator of Watergate 2?

 

Are her accusations about Watergate 2 part of the cover-up of what some, including Trump, are suggesting are 2016 political crimes bigger than the original Watergate scandal?

 

Last week, Trump said newly released FBI records reveal ” criminal act” he claims is worse than Watergate while calling for a senior State Department official to resign.

 

“This is one of the great miscarriages of justice in the history of our country,” he said.

 

FBI documents revealed last Monday that a senior State Department official proposed a “quid pro quo” to convince the agency to strip the classification on an email from Hillary Clinton’s server – and repeatedly tried to “influence” the bureau’s decision when his offer was denied, even taking his plea up the chain of command.

 

FBI interview summaries and notes, known as 302s, contained allegations of a quid pro quo.

 

Notes from an interview with an unnamed FBI official reveal the State Department Undersecretary for Management Patrick Kennedy tried to horse-trade with the FBI, offering additional slots for the bureau overseas if they would de-classify a particular email marked “SECRET.”

 

Trump accused the State Department of “trying to cover up Hillary’s crimes of sending classified information on a server our enemies could easily access.”

 

“The FBI documents show that Under-Secretary of State Patrick Kennedy made the request for altering classification as part of a ‘quid pro quo,’ in other words a deal,” Trump told supporters. “This is felony corruption. Under-Secretary Kennedy needs to resign.”

 

Trump described the actions by the State Department “a criminal act.”

 

“It’s a crime, and I hear the Republicans are going to hold hearings after the election,” he said. “Why would you hold them after the election? We want to hold those hearings before the election. It’s a criminal act and it’s incredible that they can do this and get away with it.”

 

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