Trump-Nixon: Watergate Alumni Find Themselves in Scandal Again
After the resignation of Michael Flynn as National Security Adviser, headlines across the nation have been declaring that the Trump administration’s Russian scandal is “Worse than Watergate.” There is no question that there are similarities between Watergate and Putingate. There is also no question that many of the same people involved in Watergate are involved with Trump’s rise to power. Among them are Rudy Giuliani, Roger Stone, Bert Rein and Richard Mellon Scaife.
Rudy Giuliani most recently made headlines by bragging about how he guided Trump in his failed attempt to disguise the Muslim Ban as a Constitutionally viable Executive Order. On a Fox News Show in late January, Giuliani boasted:
“I’ll tell you the whole history of it. So when he first announced it he said ‘Muslim ban.’ He called me up and said, ‘put a commission together, show me the right way to do it legally.’ I put a commission together with Judge Mukasey, with Congressman McCaul, Pete King, a whole group of other very expert lawyers on this.”
Giuliani’s comments would ultimately be used against Trump in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit who blocked the ban. It is unclear how many times Trump and Giuliani have collaborated to operationalize illegal activity, but it is clear that this isn’t Rudy’s first time contributing to the illegal activities of the White House.
In 1967, Giuliani was an intern at Nixon, Mudge, Rose, Guthrie, Alexander & Mitchell. Shortly after dodging the draft in 1969, he would go on to serve Richard Nixon in Washington, D.C. He worked as both an Assistant US Attorney, and then as an Associate Deputy Attorney General. He was serving Nixon in 1972 when the Watergate scandal broke.
Roger Stone is another public figure that is both in Trump’s inner circle and an alumnus of Watergate. Roger Stone is a tenant of Trump Tower, one of Donald’s most trusted advisors and friends — and he played a small but active role during Watergate.
“He was just nineteen when he played a bit part in the Watergate scandals. He adopted the pseudonym Jason Rainier and made contributions in the name of the Young Socialist Alliance to the campaign of Pete McCloskey, who was challenging Nixon for the Republican nomination in 1972. Stone then sent a receipt to the Manchester Union Leader, to “prove” that Nixon’s adversary was a left-wing stooge. Stone hired another Republican operative, who was given the pseudonym Sedan Chair II, to infiltrate the McGovern campaign. Stone’s Watergate high jinks were revealed during congressional hearings in 1973, and the news cost Stone his job on the staff of Senator Robert Dole. Stone revels in his Watergate pedigree, noting almost apologetically that he was never accused of breaking any law. ‘The Democrats were weak, we were strong,’ he told me.”
Bert Rein is known today as the lawyer that successfully gutted the Voting Rights Act of 1965 [Shelby County vs. Holder (2013)]. This strategic blocking of Civil rights ensured that multiple states were able to pass illegal voter restriction policies without attaining Congressional approval first.
When asked if he thought his win in the Shelby County case had any effect on the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, Bert Rein replied:
“Were those changes sufficiently impactful to really influence the outcome? I don’t know the answer. Some people would say sure because it dissuaded some Hispanic and other voters who would have voted. But maybe some illegals would also have voted and that’s not good…I’d love to take credit for it and then Donald Trump could write me a nice letter.”
Rein and his partner at Wiley Rein LLP, Richard Wiley, have been prominent political players since the Nixon Administration. Rein was a member of the Key Issues Committee during the 1968 Nixon campaign and went on to serve as the Assistant Deputy Secretary of State during his presidency. Wiley also held a position in the Nixon campaign and would go on to become the administration’s Chairman of the FCC.
In the 1980’s, Wiley and Rein collaborated with Fred Fielding — another former colleague from the Nixon Era. Fielding was the Associate Counsel to Nixon and was the deputy to John Dean, who served time for his role in the Watergate scandal. Dean was convicted and served time for his part in Watergate. Together, the Watergate alumni formed the firm Wiley, Rein and Fielding. After parting from Wiley and Rein, Fielding would go on to represent Blackwater Worldwide.
Wiley Rein remains an important part of the alt-right landscape today.
Richard Mellon Scaife
One of the major funders of the organization that backed Bert Rein in his successful efforts to weaken the Voting Rights Act was Richard Mellon Scaife. Known as the Funding Father of the Right, Scaife entered the national political playing field in 1972 as a major donor to Richard Nixon. That year he contributed close to $1,000,000 to the Nixon campaign. In order to avoid paying federal gift taxes, he set up 300 dummy organizations to funnel his money into the Nixon campaign tax free. Scaife was also responsible for contributing $45,000 to a secret fund tied to Watergate.
Richard Mellon Scaife supported Trump’s run for office as early as 2012, when it was still just a potentiality. And while he lived to see the gutting of the VRA, he passed away in 2014 — before he could see his candidate of choice occupy the White House. His legacy and funding power continue on through the Sarah Scaife Foundation, the Carthage Foundation, the Allhegeny Foundation, the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute. The American Enterprise Institute was responsible for the Project on Fair Representation. This is the project under which Bert Rein was able to bring the Shelby County case to the US Supreme Court.
These members of the Nixon Administration remained politically active through the Reagan Administration, Bush I, the Dole Campaign, the Clinton Era, Bush II, the Obama Administration — and now Trump. They have been gathering allies and strategies for how to overthrow the Congress, the Supreme Court and the Presidency. And they succeeded.
Just like Nixon, Trump and the Watergate Alumni succeeded in taking the White House. Just like Nixon, they succeeded in getting caught. The question is, will the consequences for Giuliani, Stone, Rein and the Scaife family be worse for them than Watergate?