Nixon & Trump

James Robenalt

James Robenalt’s book “January 1973” focuses on what he sees as a turning point in American history. Within a short time period Watergate (the burglary which brought down President Nixon), Roe v Wade (the case which legalized abortion), and the end of US combat troops in Vietnam through the Paris Peace Accords came together.

The interview focuses on Watergage. Robenalt is friends with, and teaches an ethics class for lawyers with, former Nixon White House Counsel John Dean using Watergage as an example. John Dean famously told Nixon that there was a “cancer” on the Presidency as they sought to deal with the Watergage burglars after they had been caught following the June, 1972 break in of what had been the headquarters for the Democratic National Committee (DNC). Nixon’s efforts here on their behalf ultimately caused his resignation.

Robenalt discusses who actually ordered the Watergage break in, whether he or Dean thought Nixon knew of the planned operation ahead of time, and other details of similar illegal actions that were occurring at the White House around the same time. He also discusses what he feels were the objectives in ordering the break in, which has been subject to much speculation.

The interview then turns to the Presidency of Donald Trump. Robenalt discusses similarities between Trump and Nixon, and what he sees as the more serious case of alleged abuse of power under Trump. Finally, the issues of pardons is discussed and he examines any potential limits on the power of the President in this area.