Many Democrats argue that the House is wasting an opportunity to open an investigation into charges against President Trump. Their focal point: House Democrats in the Watergate period. In their interpretation, House Democrats were always united to support the deposition of President Richard Nixon.
But that is not true. I was there, and in fact they were initially as divided in their approach to addressing the behavior of President Nixon as the House Democrats are today about starting a search for disapproval.
The members of the Liberal Democratic House in 1973-74 insisted on an investigation into the allegations of President Nixon, but they met with resistance from the leaders of the democrat. In April 1974, an article in the New York Times identified "maybe seven allegations of seductiveness" at the House Court Rights Committee – all Democrats – who "want to sue the president for high crimes and crimes." But, as the report adds, the "Surprising thing" about that committee was that it didn't "contain more pre-impeachment zealots" – 18 of the committee's 21 democrats had liberal voting records.
There were actually two negative resolutions for the committee's investigation that eventually led to the resignation of President Nixon. First, Delegate John Conyers of Michigan, one of the seven & # 39; fanatics & # 39 ;, had sponsored a quixotic resolution to accuse President Nixon even before Watergate's burglary in June 1972. Conyers was referred to the Judiciary Committee and died. there.
After the cover of the Watergate began to unravel in mid-1973, a framework of Democrats began to press the Judiciary Committee for the removal of President Nixon. Representative Robert Drinan of Massachusetts, another member of the judiciary, on July 31, 1973, filed a resolution against the allegations, as broadcast on television before a Senate commission revealed the Watergate cover up.
It focused on President Nixon's decision to launch a secret bombing campaign in Cambodia during the Vietnam War.
Tip O & # 39; Neill, a Democratic frontman of the House who acted as a speaker, ensured that the room would not act according to Mr Drinan's resolution at that time. "Morally, Drinan had a good thing," wrote O & # 39; Neill in his memoir, "Man of the House." "But politically, he blew it in the neighborhood. Because if Drinan's resolution came to vote when he submitted it, it would have been overwhelmingly defeated – with anything from 400 to 20."
Mr. O & # 39; Neill's management team feared that the Republicans would roll in on Mr. Drinan's resolution to inexorably defeat it and thereby discredit all deposition efforts. They never did that.
As speaker Nancy Pelosi does today, Mr. O & # 39; Neill rejected his members' demands for early dismissal. In his memoir, mr. O & # 39; Neill deputy Thaddeus Dulski from New York in the summer of 1973: "I am a loyal democrat, but I could not vote against the accusation everyone President … it would be a sacrilege. & # 39;
But the circumstances changed with the & # 39; Saturday Night Massacre & # 39; end of October: when President Nixon fired the special prosecutor, Archibald Cox, the action forced the House Leadership to give the green light to a settlement investigation.
Within days, representative Jerome Waldie from California, another member of the Judicial Committee, Articles of Accusation submitted.
But even then, the congressional vote to formally authorize the Judiciary Committee to investigate was postponed to February. House Democrats were well aware that President Nixon had won a re-election in 1972 in a landslide of 49. So a few months after the resolutions were signed, moderate and conservative Democrats were still free, if not downright restrained, for a deposition on one vote.
That reluctance was also shown in May after President Nixon had defied the summons of the White House Judiciary Committee. The committee voted 32-5 to reject a motion from Texas representative Jack Brooks in front of the House to keep the president in contempt.
The reluctance had faded towards early summer. Representative James Mann from South Carolina represented a convention district where President Nixon had recently won 80 percent. When Mr. Mann became convinced that the president justified a disapproval, he became an important link to conservative democrats and even some Republicans.
Representative Donald Edwards from California said that Mr. Mann had a relationship with those members that Mr. Drinan and Mr. Conyers would never be able to. "He can go to them and say," I have the same problem as you in my district. I can support this. You can, "Mr. Edwards said then.
These tensions and ambiguities nowadays sound familiar. So far, more than 80 members of the House – including one Republican, now independent – have publicly supported a disapproval investigation.
But as Mr. O & # 39; Neill initially did, Mrs. Pelosi accusation of extortion as a & # 39; third trace & # 39 ;, too dangerous to touch. She is adamant in rejecting a deposition test, both in public and in her caucus.
If the detailed evidence in the Mueller report on obstruction of justice has not affected Mrs. Pelosi, then what is? Without new blockbuster events such as a Saturday night massacre or the unveiling of the incriminating White House tires of President Nixon, Ms. Pelosi is unlikely to admit the approach of 2020 election day.
But Democrats who prefer a search for disapproval can hold on to the fact that the House Democrats were finally united in 1974. Each democrat in the Judiciary Commission for Power voted in favor of two articles of accusation that cited obstruction of justice and abuse of power. Six Republicans supported the first indictment and seven found abuse of power.
Nineteen of the 21 Democrats approved Article III, along with two Republicans, based on President Nixon's opposition to the commission's summons. Representative Mann was one of the two Democrats who opposed it.
The unity of the party only merged after House Leadership had authorized Peter Rodino of New Jersey, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, to conduct a thorough, deliberate, six-month deposition investigation.
Yet the democratic unity of today remains unlikely – in all respects mrs. Pelosi has no intention of starting that process. It will require unforeseen events, or a strong increase in public opinion, to change the current dynamic.
Michael Conway served as counsel for the House Judicial Committee during his deposition investigation of President Richard Nixon.
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