Presidential historian Jon Meacham is known for explaining what events from the past tell us about the present, and he did exactly that when — during a Wednesday night appearance on MSNBC’s “The 11th Hour” — he compared the Watergate scandal to the impeachment inquiry that President Donald Trump is facing in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Meacham stressed to host Brian Williams that when President Richard Nixon resigned in August 1974, many Republicans in Congress had turned against him — including some who were considered staunch right-wing conservatives in their day. Although there were still some diehard Nixon loyalists in the House and the U.S. Senate, Meacham recalled, too many other Republicans were making it clear that they could no longer support him. Nixon announced his resignation on August 8, 1974, and Vice President Gerald R. Ford was sworn in as president of the United States the following day.
House and Senate Republicans who were willing to put ethics over partisanship in August 1974, Meacham asserted, represented “profiles in courage.” But Meacham lamented that unless things dramatically change, the chances of Trump being removed from office by the Senate don’t look good — regardless of all the evidence that has been presented in the impeachment hearings.
“To get 67 senators to agree to go to lunch” is difficult, Meacham told Williams — and getting a two-thirds Senate majority to remove Trump from office is unlikely given how rigidly partisan so many Senate Republicans are in 2019.
Nonetheless, Meacham added, “I’m hoping there will be some profiles in courage in the Senate.”