Trump's Scandalous Coup Attempt Is Bigger Than Watergate

Trump's Scandalous Coup Attempt Is Bigger Than Watergate

Donald Trump and Richard Nixon were mutually admiring.

One of the nasty truths about our two nastiest presidents is that getting close to them would likely end you up in jail. Both presidents were Republicans. Both were preternaturally corrupt. And both demanded the kind of loyalty from their subordinates that required you, when asked, to commit crimes in furtherance of the ambitions of the boss.

If you worked in the West Wing for Richard Nixon, you got Watergate on you like grease from French fries. Forty officials who served in the Nixon administration were either indicted or jailed. Sixty-nine people in all were charged with crimes, when you included the Watergate burglars and ancillary campaign workers like Donald Segretti. Of those, 48 were found guilty, including former Attorney General John Mitchell, and top presidential aides H.R. Haldeman, John Erlichman, Charles Colson, and White House lawyer John Dean. Nixon lawyer Herbert Kalmbach also went to jail for his boss, as did one of Nixon’s former cabinet secretaries, Maurice Stans, who served as Commerce Secretary before he resigned to help Kalmbach move funny money around in the Nixon reelection campaign.

Now history, specifically Republican history, is repeating itself with Donald Trump. The Republican party is up to 58 indictments associated with Trump’s attempted coup following his loss of the 2020 election. Eighteen people were indicted this week in Arizona for their roles in attempting to overturn the election results in that state. Those charged include four of Trump’s attorneys: Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, Christina Bobb, and Jenna Ellis; Trump’s White House Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows; and Trump campaign aides Boris Epshteyn and Mike Roman. Also indicted were the 11 Republican party members who signed the fake elector forms that were engineered from the Oval Office by Kenneth Chesebro and Donald Trump. Chesebro, who was also indicted in Georgia on similar charges and pleaded guilty, is suspected of cooperating in the Arizona indictments.

In Michigan, 16 Republicans were indicted last July for their roles in the fake elector scheme. One has pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against the others. The 16 were charged with forgery, conspiracy to commit forgery, election law forgery and conspiracy to commit election law forgery. They face as many as 14 years in prison for the charge of “meeting covertly in the basement of the Michigan Republican Party headquarters on December 14th, and signed their names to multiple certificates stating they were the ‘duly elected and qualified electors for President and Vice President of the United States of America for the State of Michigan.’” None were certified or duly elected electors in the state of Michigan.

On Wednesday, it was revealed that Donald Trump is an unindicted co-conspirator in the Michigan fake elector scheme, as are Rudy Giuliani, Mark Meadows, and Jenna Ellis.

Last August, 19 people were charged in Georgia in a RICO indictment alleging they conspired in an elaborate scheme to overturn the results of the 2020 election in the state. Those charged include Trump, Giuliani, Meadows, Ellis, Chesebro, Sidney “The Kraken” Powell, former DOJ official Jeffrey Clark, the aforementioned Michael Roman, and David Shafer, Chairman of the Georgia Republican Party. Several have pleaded guilty and are cooperating with prosecutors, including Powell, Chesebro, and Ellis.

Six Republican fake electors were charged last December with felony forgery and “uttering a forged instrument” in Nevada. The felonies could result in prison terms from one to five years.

Ten top Republicans in Wisconsin may face indictment in the fake elector scheme in that state. Attorney General Josh Kaul will not “confirm or deny” there is an investigation of the fake electors in Wisconsin, but rumors are running rampant that Wisconsin may join the four other battleground states that have charged people in the wide-ranging scheme that was engineered out of the Oval Office by Donald Trump.

So that’s 58 members of the Republican Party who are facing felony indictments for their loyalty to Donald Trump. Experts in election law say it is unlikely that fake Republican electors from Pennsylvania and New Mexico will be indicted because the elector documents they signed were crafted to be used only if they ended up being recognized as “duly elected and qualified as electors” in their states. Because their loyalty to Trump was technically conditional, they will probably avoid being charged and facing prison like their Republican brethren in other states.

Poison. Nixon was poison to the people who worked for him and were loyal to him, and so was Trump, and so is Trump today. The chief financial officer of his company, the Trump Organization, is currently serving time on Rikers Island in New York for falsifying documents and lying for Trump.

We haven’t even counted the more than one thousand Trump loyalists who have been arrested and charged in connection with the attack on the Capitol that Trump fomented on Jan. 6. Several hundred of the insurrectionists have been convicted and are serving time in jail.

Trump has promised to pardon the January 6 “hostages,” as he calls them, but that can only happen if he is elected in November. It’s up to us to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

Please consider subscribing to Lucian Truscott Newsletter, from which this is reprinted with permission.

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