Kevin M. Kruse and Julian E. Zelizer in The Atlantic:
If the multiple charges against President Donald Trump prove out, he’ll easily displace Richard Nixon at the top of the Crooked Modern Presidents list. Here’s why.
The Original Sin: The underlying crime in Watergate was a break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters, part of a plot to steal documents that might have offered a slight edge in what turned out to be a landslide victory for Nixon. The closest post-Nixon, pre-Trump scandal in terms of severity was surely Iran-Contra, in which high-level officials in the Ronald Reagan administration circumvented Congress to secure military assistance to Nicaraguan rebels. The legal violations were considerable but, as partisans insisted and much of the public believed, the scandal stemmed from a sincere policy position held by the administration rather than the self-interest of individuals. President Bill Clinton’s scandal seemed the inverse: It was deeply personal—an extramarital affair with a White House intern—but the crimes that resulted from it were small-bore.
Although the allegations against Trump are still just that—allegations—they’re far more serious. At the heart of the matter is the possibility that his campaign conspired with a foreign government to influence the 2016 presidential election.