Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Watergate-O-Meter

     It’s still early days for the Trump-Russia Scandal. Not surprisingly, the public is confused by this slowly unfolding Keystone Kops catastrophe. Many are increasingly befuddled by the complexity of the case and its similarity, if any, to Watergate.
     First up is the naming issue. We’re a few months into this mess and we still don’t have a descriptive, commonly-accepted shorthand for it. Although Kremlingate and the Trump Tower Scandal are worthy nominees, I suggest we stick with the Trump-Russia Scandal for now.
     As for the investigation itself, much like Watergate, it’s difficult to keep track of all of the players and the various bodies looking into the matter. Given how difficult it is to stay current, I suggest that we develop a simple tool to help us determine how far we are into this scandal, something I call the Watergate-O-Meter. 
     The Watergate-O-Meter is a handy measuring device which, at a glance, tells you how the Trump-Russia Scandal compares to Watergate. Using a scale of zero to ten, let’s see where we’ve been already:
January 1, 2015
     It’s early on in the Republican nomination race. Donald Trump has not declared and has only hinted that he’ll jump in. Given his past history, however, the mere fact that’s he’s involved suggests a Watergate-type scandal is a possibility.  Watergate-O-Meter reading: 1
June 16, 2015
     Trump descends the escalator at Trump Tower to announce his candidacy. His innate incompetency and his inexplicable popularity immediately suggest a likely political scandal of some sort in the future.  Watergate-O-Meter reading: 2
November 8, 2016
     Trump wins the election. The shocking result leads to further speculation that something fishy happened.  Watergate-O-Meter reading: 3
December 9, 2016
     American intelligence agencies reveal their findings that Russia acted covertly to damage Hillary Clinton’s election chances by leaking DNC documents. No Republican documents were leaked and the Trump campaign belittles the agencies by saying they were the same ones who said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.  Watergate-O-Meter reading: 4
May12, 2017
     The FBI and Congress have been investigating Russian interference in the election. President Trump has already fired National Security Advisor Michael Flynn for lying about contacts with the Russians. Three days ago, Trump fired FBI Director James Comey and said his decision had nothing to do with Russia. Two days ago, he met with the Russians and gave them highly classified information. Yesterday he revealed that he did fire Comey because of the Russia investigation and today he hints that he taped his conversations with Comey.  Watergate-O-Meter reading: 6
June 16, 2017
     Rumors abound that Trump wants to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller. His Attorney General has already recused himself and his Deputy Attorney General has made it clear that he won’t fire Mueller. Media references to the Saturday Night Massacre of 1973 are common. Today Trump reveals that he is under investigation for possible obstruction of justice.  Watergate-O-Meter reading: 7
September 7, 2017
     Donald Trump, Jr. is interviewed by a Senate committee about his June meeting at Trump Tower in Manhattan with a Russian lawyer promising dirt on Hillary Clinton. It is also revealed that his father’s lawyer reached out to the Kremlin during the presidential campaign for help in building a Trump Tower in Moscow.  Watergate-O-Meter reading: 8

     As events progress, the facts and findings are likely to become even more complex but the Watergate-O-Meter will be able to quickly keep you up to date. When the reading hits nine or ten, it’s probably time to start paying serious attention. 

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