Presidential Historian Warns 'We're Heading Toward a 'U.S. v. Trump' Supreme Court Case,' Calls Nixon's Actions 'Sedate' Compared to Trump's

Presidential historian Jon Meacham claimed former President Richard Nixon's actions were "sedate" compared to the current situation involving President Donald Trump.

Meacham, a Pulitzer Prize–winning author, appeared on MSNBC's Morning Joe on Wednesday, to share his thoughts on Trump's possible impeachment. As when others speak of impeachment, Meacham turned the conversation to the early 1970s and the Watergate scandal.

"The Committee to Re-Elect the President, which again, in this context looks like a fairly sedate operation," Meacham said. "At least it was domestic. They didn't hire Russian burglars. I guess if they outsourced, that would make it worse."

Members of the fundraising campaign, known as the Committee to Re-Elect the President, broke into the Democratic National Committee's Watergate headquarters, bugged office phones and took documents. Their actions and the attempted cover-up of the situation ultimately led to Nixon's resignation before almost-certain impeachment. Watergate forever sullied his legacy and is still considered one of the biggest scandals in American political history.

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John Mitchell, who served as attorney general under Nixon, was closely tied to the then-president. They were friends and law partners, and Mitchell worked as Nixon's municipal bond lawyer. When Nixon was up for re-election, Mitchell left the justice department to work on his campaign via the Committee to Re-Elect the President.

"You can either be [former Supreme Court Justice] John Marshall or [former Attorney General] John Mitchell, and I think [Attorney General William] Barr has chosen his faith here," Meacham said.

donald trump richard nixon john meacham impeachment
President Donald Trump speaks during an event where U.S.-Japan trade agreements were signed at the White House on Monday in Washington, D.C. On Wednesday, historian Jon Meacham claimed the current situation surrounding the Trump's impeachment inquiry makes former President Richard Nixon's actions during Watergate look "sedate." Mark Wilson/Getty

Meacham acknowledged that at the time of the Watergate scandal, Mitchell was no longer attorney general, but claimed, "the point remains." Just as Mitchell treated Nixon as a friend, Meacham told Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough that Barr treated Trump as his primary client instead of the "interests of justice for the United States."

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"That's the decision he made. He'll answer for it in the long sweep of history, and I think where we are in terms of the historical comparison with Watergate, it is very close," Meacham said.

The historian claimed the language from Watergate, including "stonewalling" and "modified limited hangout," was "totally applicable" with regard to the situation with the current administration.

"We're heading toward a U.S. v. Trump Supreme Court case," Meacham said.

More than 40 years ago, the Supreme Court ruled against Nixon, who claimed that executive privilege enabled him to withhold sensitive information. The ruling required Nixon to release tapes related to Watergate, evidence that was deemed critical to impeachment proceedings in the House of Representatives.

Democrats in the House launched an impeachment inquiry in late September. The inquiry came after news broke that Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to look into former Vice President Joe Biden's involvement with the Ukrainian attorney general who, at the time, was investigating a company that had Biden's son, Hunter, on its board.

Trump denied wrongdoing and claimed as president, he had an obligation to end corruption and his desire to look into the Bidens wasn't politically driven, but driven by their corruption.

Presidential Historian Warns 'We're Heading Toward a 'U.S. v. Trump' Supreme Court Case,' Calls Nixon's Actions 'Sedate' Compared to Trump's | U.S.