Is Trump’s DOJ scandal worse than Nixon? Internet calls it ‘Watergate 2.0’

Social media dubs Trump latest scandal 'Watergate 2.0', comparing it to the scandal that saw Richard Nixon resign, but just how bad is it?


                            Is Trump’s DOJ scandal worse than Nixon? Internet calls it ‘Watergate 2.0’
Donald Trump and the Watergate Hotel in Washington DC (Anna Moneymaker-Pool, Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

In May 2019, former Attorney General Bill Barr testified in front of Congress that he did not know if Donald Trump had suggested he open an investigation into someone. In June 2021, we learned that the Trump administration's Justice Department had subpoenaed data for Reps Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell. At this point, we don't know if Trump directly ordered the FBI and DOJ to investigate the two Congressmen, but we do know the two Democratic Reps were targeted by the administration.

Trump's presidency has been filled with scandals, from the Ukraine call that set off his first impeachment, to the January 6 insurrection that sparked a second. But in between, there have been numerous reports of Trump using federal resources to go after his enemies, or as he calls it the 'deep state'. He attempted to reverse the results of the 2020 Presidential elections, leading to what many are calling a biased recount in Maricopa County. Nonetheless, he has weathered the storms to appear unscathed, but that may no longer be the case if Schiff gets his way.

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The New York Times report published on June 10 throws light on what many are calling 'Watergate 2.0'. Comparisons to Nixon aren't new, but for Trump, the comparison to Watergate could prove to be disastrous for his attempts to run again in 2024. So far, it seems like the criticism is limited to social media, but as we learn more, Trump could face consequences, including an investigation by the Inspector General in the coming weeks and months. 

US President Donald Trump makes a statement on the census with Attorney General William Barr in the Rose Garden of the White House on July 11, 2019, in Washington, DC. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Trump and Nixon compared in the past

Perhaps the most famous comparison came during Trump's second impeachment when he reportedly banned the mention of the former President. CNN reported in January, "he has made clear to aides in separate conversations that mere mention of President Richard Nixon, the last president to resign, was banned." Reportedly, he "told one adviser during an expletive-laden conversation recently never to bring up the ex-president ever again."

But the comparisons go much further back. In May 2020, Cory Bennett wrote for Politico, "not only have Trump and his boosters reframed the Watergate story, they have effectively demoted it on the list of American political scandals." John Dean, Nixon's White House counsel who blew the whistle on the scandal said, "he’s not only lessening Watergate, but he’s trying to pin others with what was clearly an unacceptable standard of conduct." 

The Watergate comparisons have followed Trump around for years now, but the latest scandal clearly draws many similarities with the scandal that led to the downfall of Nixon. To be clear, Trump has not been directly linked to the scandal as of now. We know that the FBI and DOJ subpoenaed data from Apple, reportedly as a part of the investigation into the source of the leaks of Trump's Russia connections. There have also been reports of the DOJ secretly collecting records from journalists as well. 

Collecting data on "political enemies" for an advantage in an election is exactly what Nixon did, albeit through wiretapping. In the case of Trump, he didn't have to use outside help, Bill Barr and the DOJ were there instead. Is it worse than Watergate? That is what Twitter thinks.

Richard Nixon gives the thumbs up as he addresses the White House staff upon his resignation as 37th President of the United States, Washington, DC, 9th August 1974. (Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Twitter says scandal 'is way beyond Watergate'

One person tweeted, "The spying on Dems and media alone is Watergate. And people really think that insane, bloated, orange-painted a--clown won the election? They must think everyone is as stupid as they are. We are not." Another replied, "This is beyond Watergate… way beyond." One user said "They make Watergate look like child’s play.." Another tweeted, "Certainly echoes of Watergate… but worse. Those were rogue politicians. This time, it was our government." Another user joked, "They really looked at watergate and went “how can I do that again?” Journalist and author Seth Abramson tweeted, "I don't believe for a second that this was a "leak investigation." Trump was using DOJ to investigate his enemies. It's Watergate 2.0."



 



 

 



 



 



 

 



 

While the story has unraveled, neither Trump nor Barr have issued a statement. Swalwell said in a statement, "Like many of the world’s most despicable dictators, former President Trump showed an utter disdain for our democracy and the rule of law." Both Swalwell and Schiff have called for an investigation by the Inspector General into Trump's Justice Department.

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