In an op-ed for CNN, constitutional law professor F. Michael Higginbotham makes the argument that Donald Trump should resign as Richard Nixon did in 1974 as he faced what appeared to be an inevitable impeachment. According to Higginbotham, Nixon’s decision — although still a matter of debate among historians — undoubtedly protected both his historical legacy as well as the United States as a whole, to which he swore an oath to serve.
“Donald Trump should follow suit,” Higginbotham wrote.
He noted the recent vote to impeach Trump for two articles of impeachment — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — and expressed his belief that the president’s behavior reflects most of Nixon’s who sparked the impeachment provisions in the Constitution.
“Trump, like Nixon, is accused of participating in a cover-up involving the investigation of political opponents. But Trump’s alleged transgressions are worse than Nixon’s because they concern an attempt to involve a foreign power in the American political process.”
Higginbotham paralleled Trump and Nixon’s supporters, who he called “fiercely loyal,” noting that even after Watergate, many of Nixon’s most ardent supporters urged him to press forward. But according to Higginbotham, Nixon’s decision to resign “emphasized country over personal considerations” in the face of the forthcoming Senate trial at the time.
“While most historians believe the full House would have voted to impeach, and the Senate would have secured the necessary two-thirds vote for removal, the trial process would have been extremely divisive and painful for the country,” the constitutional historian wrote, implying that it’s possible a show of stubbornness on behalf of Nixon could have pushed the Senate not to convict.
– In Clinton impeachment, Starr interviewed every relevant witness (and way beyond): Lewinsky’s ex-boyfriends, Willey’s dentist, White House window washers.
– In Trump impeachment, White House has blocked top advisers who enacted Trump’s Ukraine scheme. pic.twitter.com/iaRUsWOvSz
— Elie Honig (@eliehonig) December 24, 2019
Higginbotham ended his op-ed by urging Trump to resign so that the United States can begin “healing,” adding that the country’s current divisions are “even more corrosive” than at the time of Nixon’s resignation. For this reason, Higginbotham believes “it’s even more important” that Trump learn from Nixon’s decision and understand that “focusing solely on himself” will only weaken the country.
As of now, Republicans don’t seem poised to flip in their loyalty to Trump. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has revealed that he will be working hand-in-hand with the White House for the Senate trial, and only three Senators are believed to hold the potential to vote to remove Trump from his position: Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins, and Mitt Romney.
Despite this seemingly unwavering loyalty to Trump, some cracks in the GOP appear to be showing. Republican Senator Richard Blumenthal claims that there are five to 10 of his Republican colleagues that are not happy with McConnell’s decision to work with the White House on impeachment.