Foreign Policy Digital

How to Kill a Presidential Scandal

Republicans smothered the Iran-Contra affair. The same might happen with Trump and Russia.

A mysterious intrusion at the Democratic National Committee, an obstructive and besieged president, fears of an incipient constitutional crisis. It’s been easy to draw parallels between Watergate and the Trump-Russia scandal.

This isn’t entirely surprising. For decades, Watergate has been the touchstone whenever a scandal wafts through Washington. There’s been Chinagate and Plamegate, Bridgegate and Emailgate, and many others besides. But these comparisons have become particularly fervid lately. Historians of the Richard Nixon era and former Watergate prosecutors and protagonists are again cable news mainstays. Discussions about potential impeachment proceedings, should the Democrats retake the House in November, inevitably glance backward to the dark final days of the Nixon administration.

But the lessons of Watergate, through real, are overstated. And its persistence in our collective imagination reveals a particularly American tendency: our bedrock optimism, and—even

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