Maajid Nawaz speaks to Watergate lawyer who compares Trump and Nixon impeachments

23 November 2019, 15:29

Philip Lacovara was Counsel to the Watergate Special Prosecutor during the impeachment hearings of President Nixon.

He said to Maajid Nawaz: "Yes, I was saying that the clip that you just played of Donald Trump sounds very much like the attitude of Richard Nixon 45 years ago and, unfortunately, at least as I understand the evidence, Mr. Trump's denials are as full of holes as were Richard Nixon's."

Maajid asked about current partisanship and how that might affect the impeachment inquiry.

Lacovara said: "Yes, I think that's one of the biggest things that's changed in the last decades since the Watergate scandal, even during Watergate, although President Nixon had much higher public approval ratings than Donald Trump does.

"There were a number of Republicans who were prepared not only to keep an open mind about what the evidence showed but actually the decision to vote for articles of impeachment against President Nixon shortly before he resigned was joined by one third of the Republicans on the committee.

By contrast, what you see today is an absolute lock grip by President Trump on the Republicans and they are not willing to provide any sort of objective or responsible evaluation of President Trump's conduct and I think that's a sad development."

Maajid later asked whether President Nixon was more honourable than President Trump.

Maajid Nawaz speaks to Watergate lawyer who compares Trump and Nixon impeachments
Maajid Nawaz speaks to Watergate lawyer who compares Trump and Nixon impeachments. Picture: PA

Lacovara replied: "I'm afraid I would have to say yes, I wrote an op ed in the Washington Post a couple of months ago in which I said I miss Nixon.

"And the reason for that was that Nixon did not begin what became the Watergate cover-up scandal.

"He was not involved in the original underlying offence; the break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters but he did help to cover it up.

"By contrast, the affair that we're now dealing with the issue of Ukraine, bribery or extortion plot is President Trump's own decision and its consequences are much more severe than the Watergate cover-up because we're talking about national security and the lives or the deaths, in this case, of soldiers of an ally fighting on the front lines against Russian invasions and extensions of political power.

That seems to me to be a much more serious affair and for President Trump to have done what he's done seems much more egregious than even."