I was nine years old in the summer of 1974, when President Richard Nixon resigned. My 24-year-old sister made me watch, recognizing the historic nature of that extraordinary moment. I don’t remember much, except the multi-colored shag carpeting and the small TV on a metal stand in the corner of our family room, projecting Nixon’s defeated face to an exhausted country. But I had a flashback to that moment Monday, watching Congressman Adam Schiff’s eloquent, measured and damning recitation of the events as we know them thus far, connecting the Trump campaign to the Russians during the House Intelligence Committee hearings. I was glued to the television, a much bigger version than the one of my childhood.
The comparisons to Watergate are inevitable, but this is much bigger too. It’s almost impossible to stay abreast of the scandals swirling around President Trump and his campaign minions, to keep track of the Russian contacts, Russian money and Russian secrets because they are coming at us with the unrelenting and unnerving speed of semi-automatic rifle fire.
And just when you think you’ve got a handle on it all, out pops another villain, House Intel Chairman, Devin Nunes, proving that Americans cannot trust the Republicans to run an investigation. In an obvious attempt to come to the president’s aid like some knight in shining armor, Nunes inappropriately, maybe illegally, revealed that Trump communications may have been inadvertently picked up by surveillance of foreign agents. He not only offered that up to the media ― he also ran to President Trump to deliver the news, sidestepping Schiff and the committee they both oversee. Thursday’s apology to that committee was too little too late.
Nunes should be removed from his position on the committee, and the investigation must be conducted by an independent commission, as Senator John McCain called for Wednesday. He told MSNBC’s Greta Van Susteren, “no longer does the Congress have credibility to handle this alone.” That’s one Republican willing to put country, and truth, above party and lies. But there aren’t many others.
I don’t trust the Republicans to thoroughly investigate Trump’s questionable financial dealings with Russian oligarchs, or the lying Carter Page’s trips to Russia, or slimy Paul Manafort’s ten-million-dollar contract to promote Putin, or Mike Flynn’s sordid foreign agent past, or the countless phone calls, and secret meetings, or Rudy Giuliani. Remember during the campaign when the former NYC mayor hinted to Fox with glee that an October surprise was in the works? And then there’s Roger Stone, who tweeted on August 21st, “Trust me, It will be the (sic) Podesta’s time in the barrel. #CrookedHillary.” Roger Stone is one of the last guys in any room that Americans should trust.
We can’t trust the Republicans to do the right thing or reveal the truth, and of course we can’t trust the President of the United States – about anything. He has given us no reason to believe him, and every reason to question his statements and tweets. I don’t trust his spokespeople, Sean Spicer, Kellyanne Conway and Sarah Huckabee Sanders, all of whom have knowingly lied on the job. I don’t trust Stephen Miller or Steve Bannon, or even Reince Priebus, who quietly aid and abet the liar-in-chief.
I don’t know whether to trust the FBI either. After what Director Comey did to Hillary Clinton during the campaign, even as it turns out the FBI was investigating the Trump campaign as early as July, how can we be sure about his motives, his thoroughness, his honesty? Will he reveal all? Will the investigations dig as deeply as they must? Will a 2017 Deep Throat emerge from the bureau? Will someone interview the former British spy, Christopher Steele, who prepared that infamous dossier?
I was feeling doubtful about the Democrats too, but along came Rep Schiff. In the California congressman, we have a former prosecutor, a man who appears to be intelligent, diligent, determined, fair and so far, honest. He even told Rachel Maddow that he would be willing to go to England to meet with Steele. The man refrains from hyperbole ― he is thorough and credible. And that’s just what this country needs right now. I am confident that Schiff plus the many incredible reporters on this story, and hopefully the intelligence community, will eventually uncover the whole truth.
The Russia connections run wide and deep, and I do not believe it possible that there are any coincidences at play here. Even Rep. Schiff said in Monday’s hearing it was difficult to believe that all of these contacts and relationships are just coincidences. This administration is and has been in bed with Vladimir Putin, and it may be a slow trickle that takes months to unravel, but it will unravel.
Clearly, there are traitors in our midst. But they have all made mistakes, and one by one, they are going to get tripped up by them, and fall like a real-life house of cards.
Eventually the only question will be, just what are our elected officials going to do about it all? Will they follow the lead of Senator McCain and put country above party? An independent commission would be an excellent start. And when all is said and done, a TV resignation could be the inevitable conclusion.