AS Donald Trump has become the first president in United States history to be impeached twice and is preparing to leave office, some have likened him to Richard Nixon, the 37th US president.

Critics are urging Trump to resign and are comparing his situation to the downfall of President Nixon and the 1972 Watergate scandal.

Why did Richard Nixon resign as President?

A break-in at the Democratic National Committee – which was connected to then-President Richard Nixon’s re-election campaign – led to Nixon’s resignation in 1974.

President Nixon ultimately released damning tapes that undeniably confirmed his complicity in the Watergate scandal on August 5, 1974.

To avoid imminent impeachment by Congress, he chose to resign in disgrace on August 8, and left the White House the following day.

Six weeks later, Vice President Gerald Ford was sworn in as president.

He chose to pardon Nixon for any crimes he had committed while in office.

Nixon himself never admitted to any criminal wrongdoing, although he did acknowledge using poor judgement.

Richard Nixon died in 1994, aged 81.

Why has Donald Trump been compared to Richard Nixon?

Calls for the president to step down come after Trump supporters violently rioted at the US Capitol on January 6.

Following the riot, former Secretary of State Colin Powell said Trump should "step down immediately like Richard Nixon."

Impatient for Trump to leave straight away, Powell told Savannah Guthrie on TODAY: "Those who are suggesting impeachment or the 25th Amendment, that's time-consuming.

"I wish he would just do what Nixon did, and that's step down."

Powell, 83, said of Trump: "Somebody oughta go up there and tell him it's over.

"The plane's waiting for you, you're out. That way he would not only step down, he would in addition sort of cut the guts out from underneath this group of people who he has working for him."

Trump has not showed signs of voluntarily stepping down, although he did finally admit Joe Biden won the US election and insisted that he will cooperate with a peaceful transition of power.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also urged Trump to resign, warning he would be impeached if he chose not to.

President Trump was impeached in the House for a second time on January 13.

Trump's impeachment will now head to the Senate, where members of Congress will again vote on whether the outgoing-president will be convicted on the charge.

What has Donald Trump said about the comparisons?

Meanwhile, President Trump reportedly told his aides in "separate conversations" that any mention of Nixon was not allowed.

According to CNN, Trump urged one adviser in an "expletive-filled rant" to never utter Nixon's name.

What was the Watergate scandal of 1972?

The Watergate scandal refers to a break in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington and the subsequent chain of events that led to the spectacular resignation of President Richard Nixon.

The scandal began early in the morning of June 17, 1972, when several burglars were arrested in the office of the Democratic National Committee, located in the Watergate complex of buildings in Washington, DC.

The arrests were made at around 2.30am after the group were caught wiretapping phones and stealing documents, and it was later revealed that they were all connected to President Nixon’s re-election campaign.

One of the men was identified as James McCord Jr – the security chief of the Committee to Re-elect the President and it wasn’t his first time in the opposition’s offices.

The suspects were found with a series of items, including lock picks, $100 bills with the serial numbers in sequence and a shortwave receiver that could pick up police calls.

Nixon took aggressive steps to cover up the crime, with White House press secretary Ron Ziegler describing the incident as a "third-rate burglary."

In August 1972, Nixon gave a speech in which he swore that White House staffers were not involved in the break-in, winning the public’s confidence and securing him another term in office.

However, a few months later, journalists and congressional investigations began to piece together details of the scandal – details which pointed directly to White House involvement.

It soon emerged that shortly after the break-in Nixon arranged to provide hundreds of thousands of dollars in “hush money” to the burglars.

He and his aides then hatched a plan to instruct the CIA to impede the FBI’s investigation of the crime.

This was a more serious crime than the break-in as it was gross abuse of presidential power and a deliberate obstruction of justice.

Around the same time, seven conspirators were indicted on charges related to the Watergate affair.

At the urging of Nixon’s aides, five pleaded guilty to avoid trial; the other two were convicted in January 1973.

How were Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein involved?

Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein started suspecting President Nixon’s intentions, around the same time that a Senate investigation was launched.

The work of Woodward and Bernstein during the scandal was described as "maybe the single greatest reporting effort of all time" by long-time journalism figure Gene Roberts.

Woodward continued to work for The Washington Post after his reporting on Watergate and is now the paper’s associate editor.

Since Watergate, he has since written 18 books on American politics, 12 of which topped best-seller lists.

Carl Bernstein's career since Watergate has continued to focus on the theme of the use and abuse of power in politics.

He is also an author and a regular political commentator for CNN.

What happened next in the Watergate scandal?

In early 1973, a handful of Nixon’s aides, including White House counsel John Dean, were called to testify before a grand jury about the president’s crimes.

During their court appearances, they claimed that Nixon secretly taped every conversation that took place in the Oval Office.

Prosecutors knew that the President’s guilt could only be proven with those tapes.

However hard he tried, Nixon struggled to protect the tapes during the summer and autumn of 1973.

His lawyers argued that the president’s executive privilege allowed him to keep the tapes to himself, but Judge Sirica, the Senate committee and an independent special prosecutor named Archibald Cox were all determined to obtain them.

When Cox refused to back down with his demands, Nixon ordered him to be fired – several Justice Department officials resigned in protest.

The mass resignations took place on October 20, 1973, and became known as the “Saturday Night Massacre."

This forced Nixon into handing over some – but not all – of the tapes.

Within months, his stories began unravelling and the Watergate scandal had reached its peak.

Seven of his former aides were indicted on various charges all related to the scandal, but the jury was unsure if they could indict a sitting president.

They began to refer to him as an “unindicted co-conspirator."

Nixon was then ordered by the Supreme Court to hand over the original tapes of more than 64 conversations.

While he tried to drag the process out longer, a vote was underway in the House of Representatives to impeach him.

Source: Read Full Article