“What did the President know and when did he know it?”
It was the famous question asked by Tennessee U.S. Senator Howard Baker during the 1973 Watergate hearings.
The question cut to the core of President Richard Nixon’s litany of crimes. And the fact that it was posed by a Republican gave it added power.
More than a year later, Americans learned its answers:
- Nixon had learned that his own White House “Plumbers” had carried out the Watergate Hotel burglary; and
- Only days afterward, he ordered a cover-up.
With those revelations, his Presidency was finished.
America now stands only days away from swearing in Donald J. Trump as the 45th President of the United States.
And, once again, Howard Baker’s slightly altered question resonates with force: “What did the American people know, and when did they know it?”
And the subject of that question is not Richard Nixon but President-elect Donald Trump.
Since January 10, Americans have been obsessed with the unproven allegation that, during a visit to Russia several years ago, Trump paid prostitutes to urinate on a bed once slept in by the Obamas at the Moscow Ritz-Carlton.
The charge was published by Buzzfeed, and given weight by reports that both Trump and President Barack Obama had been briefed by Intelligence officials about the alleged incident.
Perhaps even worse for Trump, it’s made him the butt of countless “golden shower” jokes. Saturday Night Live featured a skit with Vladimir Putin appearing at a press conference to blackmail Trump (Alec Baldwin) with a video tape labeled: “PEE PEE TAPE.”
Trump has denied the charge as “fake news.”
But long before this disturbing claim, Americans had more than enough knowledge about Donald Trump to judge him unfit for the Oval Office.
- He unknowingly admitted to being a sexual predator of women: “You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful–I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”
- He refused to release his tax returns–unlike every other Presidential candidate since Ronald Reagan in 1980.
- He said he was prepared to withdraw from NATO, the American-European alliance that held the Soviet Union at bay for a half-century.
- He often and publicly praised Russian President Vladimir Putin, the absolute dictator of a foreign power hostile to the United States.
- He publicly invited “Russia”–i.e., Putin–to interfere directly in an American Presidential election: “I will tell you this, Russia: If you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 [Hillary Clinton] emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”
- He surrounded himself with men who have close ties to Putin. One of these is Paul Manafort, his former campaign manager. His longstanding ties to pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine lead directly to Putin.
- Another–his pick for Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson–is the CEO of ExxonMobil, which has worked on major oil projects with Russia. In 2013, Putin awarded Tillerson the Order of Friendship, one of the highest honors the nation bestows on foreign citizens.
- Yet another Trump advisor, Roger Ailes, is a known sexual predator. Hired to prepare Trump for the fall debates with Clinton, he was fired in July as CEO of Fox News on multiple charges of sexual harassment.
- During the 2016 campaign, Trump received the enthusiastic support of the Ku Klux Klan and the American Nazi Party.
Ku Klux Klan enblem
- Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi personally solicited a political contribution from Donald Trump around the same time her office deliberated joining an investigation of alleged fraud at Trump University and its affiliates.
- After Bondi dropped the Trump University case against Trump, he wrote her a check $25,000 for her re-election campaign. The money came from the Donald J. Trump Foundation.
- On November 18, Trump–rather than face trial–settled the case out of court for $25 million. “Today’s $25 million settlement agreement is a stunning reversal by Donald Trump,” said New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, “and a major victory for the over 6,000 victims of his fraudulent university.
- Throughout the 2016 Presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly used threats of violence to intimidate his Republican and Democratic opponents. On March 16, he warned Republicans that if he didn’t win the GOP nomination in July, his supporters would literally riot: “I think you’d have riots. I think you would see problems like you’ve never seen before. I think bad things would happen. I really do. I wouldn’t lead it, but I think bad things would happen.
- On August 9, Trump issued a veiled solicitation for the assassination of Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton: “Hillary wants to abolish, essentially abolish, the Second Amendment. If she gets to pick her [Supreme Court] judges, nothing you can do folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know.”
- After slandering President Barack Obama for five years as “the President from Kenya,” he blatantly lied: “Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy. I finished it.”