Former Watergate Prosecutor Compares Nixon and Trump
Steve Adubato goes One-on-One with Nick Akerman, Partner at Dorsey & Whitney LLP, and Former Watergate Prosecutor, who breaks down the process of impeachment and the comparison of President Richard Nixon and President Donald Trump.
"I'm Steve Adubato. This is the Tisch WNET Studio. Here in the heart of Lincoln Center in New York City. Everything you ever wanted or needed to know as an American citizen about the impeachment process, you're about to find out. I hope so! That's a lot of pressure! [laughter] This is Nick Akerman, Partner in Dorsey & Whitney, but also a former Watergate prosecutor who understands more about this impeachment process than anyone. We are taping early in December. We're not a news program. We're a program that likes to put things into context. Do this for us. We don't know how the House is gonna vote. We could assume. We don't know what the... Right. ...Senate's gonna do. We can assume. Bigger picture. What are the implications of this impeachment process if it plays out the way I just described? Well it's a... obviously this is an extremely important process. But you have to look at it in terms of the bigger historical picture. Starting back with Andrew Johnson in the late 1860s. Basically. That was written up in John F. Kennedy's book Profiles in Courage. And the one Republican senator there who wound up casting the vote that sort of nullified the impeachment... Make it clear. You need two-thirds of the vote in the Senate to impeach? In the Senate. That's right. And they were one vote short? One vote... he took away the one vote from the two-thirds, that meant that Andrew Johnson was not removed from office. And the principal he based that upon, was that he felt that it was just a political difference. That what Johnson did did not undermine the Constitution, did not undermine the US Government. It was a policy difference. And now, I think we're... and certainly if you go on to the other impeachments you've got after that, the next one that comes up is Nixon. Yes. Now that was a whole different story. This is another president who essentially cheated in getting himself elected, by having a bunch of burglars break into the Watergate complex, the Democratic headquarters, steal documents. He misused his office in a whole series of different ways. Sound familiar to you? Yeah. I mean this, now is... really what we had here was a high-tech burglary, where the Russians essentially hacked into the Democratic National Committee. They didn't have to use burglars. But putting it in the bigger picture of what Trump is actually accused of in this situation, it really comes down to an extortion-bribery scheme. Where essentially, what he has done is taken $399,000,000 in aid that was... Approved by Congress? ...approved by Congress. Taxpayer dollars? Right. To defend the Russi... the Ukrainian government against an active, ongoing fighting war, where the Russians are basically killing Ukrainians and trying..."