Many left-leaning Americans have been suggesting for several years that Donald Trump is a politician so corrupt that he might make Richard Nixon blush. Many on the right, meanwhile, seem prepared to go to the polls in 2024 and happily vote for Trump -- assuming he is the Republican nominee, and we see little reason to doubt he will be.
Why the disconnect? Our only guess is that it's the result of a toxic, divisive political culture that seems to have taken over America in the 2000s. But events this week suggest the Nixon comparisons are not too far afield.
First, a federal judge stated in an order that Trump likely committed felonies related to Jan. 6. Then, came reports that Trump's phone records show a seven-hour gap on Jan. 6. In between, were multiple reports about other GOP figures and their efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. Mother Jones sums it up in an e-newsletter under the headline "The pieces of the January 6 puzzle keep falling into place":
[Last] weekend, CNN reported that the House committee investigating the attack on the Capitol will seek to interview Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who, in a series of text messages, pleaded with Mark Meadows to overturn the election. [Monday] morning, the Washington Post published an article outlining what the committee has discovered about the role Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) played in the plot to keep President Trump in office; it turns out that he had a far greater hand in the scheme than we knew.
And later in the day came the icing on the cake: A federal judge held in a ruling that Trump had likely committed felonies when he "corruptly attempted to obstruct the Joint Session of Congress on January 6, 2021." The finding doesn't mean that Trump will be criminally charged, but is still a huge development that's likely to amp up pressure on the Justice Department to investigate and prosecute the former president.
"The illegality of the plan was obvious," the judge wrote in a ruling ordering Trump attorney John Eastman to hand over 101 emails that he had fought to keep secret. "If Dr. Eastman and President Trump’s plan had worked, it would have permanently ended the peaceful transition of power, undermining American democracy and the Constitution."
And what about that seven-hour gap in Trump's phone records, which sounds positively Nixonian? This is from an Axios e-newsletter:
White House records turned over to the House's Jan. 6 committee show a seven-hour, 37-minute gap in President Trump’s phone logs for the day, including the time the Capitol was being stormed, The Washington Post's Bob Woodward and Robert Costa report."
The lack of an official White House notation of any calls placed to or by Trump for 457 minutes on Jan. 6, 2021 — from 11:17 a.m. to 6:54 p.m. — means the committee has no record of his phone conversations as his supporters descended on the Capitol."
We knew there was a hole in the log. But the extent of this gap is a huge deal for the investigation.
Also notable from the story: An aide to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said, "McConnell declined Trump's call on Jan. 6."
Could Trump have used a burner phone, which are known to help hide criminal activity? In a statement to The Post, Trump said, "I have no idea what a burner phone is, to the best of my knowledge I have never even heard the term.
"Trump had nothing to do with the records and assumed his calls were recorded and preserved, a Trump spokeswoman told The Post.
Here is more from The Post report:
The records show that Trump was active on the phone for part of the day, documenting conversations that he had with at least eight people in the morning and 11 people that evening. The seven-hour gap also stands in stark contrast to the extensive public reporting about phone conversations he had with allies during the attack, such as a call Trump made to Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) — seeking to talk to Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) — and a phone conversation he had with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).
The House panel is now investigating whether Trump communicated that day through back channels, phones of aides or personal disposable phones, known as “burner phones,” according to two people with knowledge of the probe, who, like others interviewed for this report, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive information. The committee is also scrutinizing whether it received the full logs from that day.
One lawmaker on the panel said the committee is investigating a “possible coverup” of the official White House record from that day. Another person close to the committee said the large gap in the records is of “intense interest” to some lawmakers on the committee, many of whom have reviewed copies of the documents. Both spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss internal committee deliberations.