Watergate-era congresswoman says Trump should be impeached: 'A Nixonian misuse of presidential power’
During President Donald Trump’s many scandals, veterans of Watergate — from journalist/authors Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein to Watergate assistant prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks — have been offering insightful Trump/Richard Nixon comparisons. And with Trump now facing an impeachment inquiry in response to the Ukraine scandal, former Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman explains in a New York Times op-ed why she would vote for Trump’s impeachment were she still in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Now 78, Holtzman was a member of the House Judiciary Committee during Watergate in the 1970s. Ukrainegate, she writes, is giving her a feeling of déjà vu.
“For those of us who were there during Watergate,” Holtzman asserts, “the Ukraine scandal is beginning to sound like an echo chamber.”
The former Democratic congresswoman elaborates, “Multiple reports say that President Trump used his office to press Ukraine’s president to investigate Joe Biden and provide damaging information about him, though there is no evidence of wrongdoing on Mr. Biden’s part. This was a bid to affect the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, just as the Democratic National Committee headquarters break-in at the Watergate complex aimed to affect the 1972 presidential election.”
Holtzman notes that Republican Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney and former mayor of New York City, began speaking to Ukrainian officials in May and urged them to investigate Biden — something that Giuliani has admitted to doing. And reports on Trump’s Ukraine-related actions, Holtzman stresses, clearly show a pattern of impeachable offenses.
“Mr. Trump’s reported actions would amount to a Nixonian misuse of presidential power that threatens our democracy and constitutes high crime and misdemeanor,” Holtzman asserts. “The Constitution is clear: a president who uses presidential powers for purely personal and political reasons, as Mr. Trump appears to have done, commits an impeachable offense.
Moreover, Holtzman writes, Trump “put nearly $400 million in congressionally appropriated military aid for Ukraine on hold” about a week before his “infamous” July 25 phone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The Ukrainian government, according to Holtzman, “undoubtedly” has not only a transcript of that conversation, but a recording as well.
Holtzman observes, “That recording could well be analogous to the Nixon White House tapes, which showed the president’s personal involvement in the cover-up — and Congress should request it immediately.
The former House Judiciary member goes on to explain, “Like Mr. Nixon, Mr. Trump appears to have acted for his own personal political interests as opposed to a legitimate national interest. Mr. Nixon used his personal lawyer to pay hush money to the Watergate burglars. Mr. Trump used his personal attorney as the go-between with Mr. Zelensky, urging the Ukrainian president to work with Mr. Giuliani to investigate Mr. Biden.”
Bearing all of this evidence in mind, Holtzman emphasizes, Trump is as deserving of impeachment in 2019 as Nixon was in 1974.
“Like Mr. Nixon’s, Mr. Trump’s reported actions demand impeachment — the one remedy to protect the rule of law, the rights of Americans and the integrity of our elections from a president bent on violating them,” Holtzman asserts. “The framers created the impeachment power to safeguard democracy. It is Congress’ urgent responsibility to use it now.”