It’s tempting to compare Donald Trump to Richard Nixon. Trump, like Nixon, is an egomaniac who seems to believe that anything he does is above the law.
Actually, though, Trump is much worse than Nixon in some ways.
Nixon remains the most disgraced U.S. president in history, having been forced to resign in the wake of the Watergate scandal. It was a humiliating and tremendously distressful blow to his political legacy, and he also destroyed the careers of several of his closest associates.
None of them, however, were people he helped raise.
At this point, Trump hasn’t been officially accused of any wrongdoing, but evidence trickling out of the special counsel’s investigation is making it look more and more like his presidential campaign may have conspired with Russia to influence the outcome of the 2016 election.
Last week, Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about Trump’s plans to build a skyscraper in Russia, raising even more questions about the president’s relationship with the Kremlin at the time he was closing in on the Republican presidential nomination.
Cohen admitted in court that discussions about the failed Trump Tower Moscow project continued until June 14, 2016 — six months longer than he initially told Congress they went on. That time frame places Trump’s company in the midst of negotiating a lucrative business deal with Russia at a time when Russia was engaged in hacking the emails of Democratic Party officials and sabotaging the election.
If the president ends up going down, it is quite possible that he will take at least two of his adult children and a son-in-law down with him. That not only makes him a bad president, but it also makes him a despicable father.
From the moment Trump allowed his overblown ego to drag him into the presidential race, he put Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, in the line of fire. They became a shield, guarding him from a direct hit from the election-meddling allegations that could end up toppling his presidency.
Trump knew from the beginning that he had too much dirty laundry to hold the highest office in the nation, yet he put himself out there and enlisted his two eldest children to help clear the way.
Don Jr. became an integral part of his father’s campaign, even holding a meeting with Russian operatives in hopes of getting dirt on Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton. Ivanka introduced her father at the Republican National Convention, where he accepted the nomination for president. She then moved to Washington and became a special adviser in the White House.
Kushner also attended that Clinton dirt-gathering meeting, and Trump later tapped his son-in-law to be an official senior White House adviser.
Of course, Trump never dreamed he would win the election, and by some indications, he never really wanted to end up in the White House. Still, most fathers never would have engaged their loved ones in such a risky endeavor.
Though Nixon’s daughter, Tricia, took on some ceremonial responsibilities in the White House, the president never entangled her or her sister in Watergate. So when he got caught up in the cover-up, Nixon never had to think about whether his children could end up in jail.
Trump, though, must be having a lot of sleepless nights worrying about his children.
There were published reports on Friday that special counsel Robert Mueller might be asking questions about Don Jr. and Ivanka’s role in the failed Moscow project. Questions also have surfaced about whether Don Jr. was entirely honest regarding how much he knew about the project when he was called to testify before the House Intelligence Committee last year.
In addition, it is highly likely that these Trump siblings and Kushner will end up being called before the Oversight and Judiciary committees once Democrats take control of the House of Representatives in January. Specifically, the legislators might be interested in looking at possible violations of the Constitution’s emoluments clause, which prohibits federal officeholders from receiving payments from foreign governments.
In other words, Trump may have gotten some of his children into a big mess. While Democrats are sure to start poring over Trump’s personal finances, they could also seek records for the Trump Organization, which could lead to probes into Don Jr., Ivanka, Eric and Kushner’s financial dealings. And unlike the president, they could end up in jail.
Trump’s biggest mistake was thinking he could run his campaign and ultimately the presidency like a family business. He thought he could seek the nation’s highest office, heighten his profile a little more and make a lot more money for his family, all at the same time. He didn’t realize that government, though often an inept bureaucracy, does have checks and balances. And sometimes that oversight works.
Nixon, on the other hand, knew the ins and outs of Washington. He was an experienced politician and he still got caught. Trump isn’t nearly as experienced, so it’s probably just a matter of time for him.
Though he insisted otherwise, Nixon knew he was a crook and kept his family away from his corrupt activities. And that made him a lot smarter than Donald Trump.