I have only two words for Reid Willis and the article he wrote for the Phoenix last week: Spiro Agnew. In a recent article in the Phoenix, Mr. Willis, convincingly dispelled the comparison between the Trump – Russia Collusion narrative and the Watergate scandals of the 1970s. What he failed to realize was that a separate scandal broke during that decade that parallels recent scandals coming from the Trump White House. That scandal concerned Nixon’s vice president at the time, Spiro Agnew.
Spiro Agnew was the Governor of Maryland before becoming Vice President 1968. He was primarily chosen for his strong law and order beliefs and his appeal to Southerners. Throughout his tenure, Agnew repeatedly attacked Nixon’s media and political opponents. For this, Nixon considered Agnew as his security against impeachment. A Democratic controlled Congress would not dare to remove Richard Nixon knowing Spiro Agnew would succeed him as president.
However, Nixon’s insurance policy began to lapse in 1973 when the Maryland attorney general opened an investigation into allegations of corruption during Agnew’s tenure as governor. This investigation revealed instances of taking bribes, including accepting $10,000 in cash, influence peddling, and tax evasion. Under an agreement with the Justice Department, Agnew plead no contest to the charge of cheating the government out of $13,551 on his 1967 federal income tax and resigned from the vice presidency on October 10, 1973. He was fined $10,000 and sentenced to three years unsupervised probation.
While the Mueller investigation has not yielded evidence of Trump – Russian collusion, it has revealed instances of campaign finance violations. In cooperation with the Mueller probe, the president personal attorney, Michael Cohen, plead guilty to illegally arranging payments during the 2016 campaign to two women to keep silent about their alleged affairs with Donald Trump. He confessed that these payments were made “in coordination with and at the direction of a candidate for federal office,” thus implicating Trump in a federal crime.
Additionally, the New York attorney general is conducting an investigation into questionable donations by the Trump Foundation. According to the New York attorney general, the Trump Foundation “was little more than a checkbook for payments from Mr. Trump or his businesses to nonprofits, regardless of their purpose or legality.”
Furthermore, the attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia have jointly filed a lawsuit alleging Trump is violating the Constitution by continuing to do business with foreign governments.Although President Trump has removed himself from the day-to-day operations of his companies, he has refused to completely remove himself from the company. As a result, he continues to earn profits, advantages, and benefits from commercial transactions with foreign governmentsthat continue to do business with the Trump Organization. For example, the Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C. continues to host foreign dignitaries and political leaders when they visit Washington. Essentially the president’s private businesses profit from US diplomacy and the US State Department, which he runs.
His attacks on Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Mueller probe via Twitter and his removal of James Comey from the FBI have exposed President Trump to charges of obstruction of justice. His refusal to release his tax returns may indicate that he has committed tax evasion or worse. While it is true that 2018 is not 1974, it certainly seems reminiscent of 1973.