NYT, Time Magazine: Look to the Past on Impeaching Trump! Remember Nixon?

August 23rd, 2018 12:16 PM

The New York Times and Time magazine are both looking to the past as a way to highlight an impeachment drive against Donald Trump. Time magazine connected Richard Nixon and Joe McCarthy to the President. Many liberal outlets aren’t fans of the constitutional originalist perspective. But the Times on Thursday offered this headline: “Not an Impeachable Offense? The Framers Might Disagree.” 

Writer Adam Liptak cited revolutionary figure George Mason as proof that the Founders thought “it was imperative for Congress to have the means to remove a president who had gained his office by undermining democracy and the rule of law.” 

Of course, not all historical examples are instructive. Liptak dismissed the impeachment of Bill Clinton in 1998: 

President Bill Clinton was impeached by the House in 1998 for obstruction of justice while in office in connection with a civil suit in a sexual harassment case and a grand jury investigation into his relationship with Monica Lewinsky, a White House intern. Legal experts have questioned whether the charges — which involved private rather than official conduct, some of it before Mr. Clinton became president, and no obvious abuse of presidential power — satisfied constitutional standards.

Time’s September 3, 2018 issue imagined what Trump REALLY thinks about past Republicans Nixon and McCarthy. Contributing editor Jon Meacham’s story featured this headline: 

Trump has made a fleeting reference to Watergate figure John Dean. According to Meacham, the President is like the anti-communist Republican Senator because “for McCarthy, the end goal was fame and influence.” 

Meacham then read Trump’s mind as to the connections between Trump, Nixon and McCarthy: 

Yet as the historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. used to say, history is to a nation as memory is to a person, and all of us tend to judge the moment in reference to what’s come before. That Trump is alluding to the falls of two flawed leaders suggests that he may, at least subconsciously, be thinking about his own.

Trump isn't known for introspection or historical allusions. So this mind reading is a bit much. Perhaps simply sticking to the facts might be a better strategy for reporters.