President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil is being compared to Richard Nixon.
Richard Nixon resigned and left office on August 9, 1974. He was never impeached, nor was there ever a trial of impeachment.
Nixon resigned because it was likely he was going to be forced to leave office after a trial of impeachment. There were numerous allegations made against him at the time, but it is likely the most serious one was directing his staff to keep the FBI from investigating members of the White House. It would be called the Watergate cover-up scandal.
The most thorough study of Watergate scandal was done by former White House Counsel, John Dean. His 2014 book showed there was no evidence that President Nixon had prior knowledge of the break in of the Watergate offices. Dean came to this conclusion after listening to many taped conversations in the White House, which have be declassified and available to the public.
The crime in Nixon’s case, was obstruction of justice. He was aware that payments were being made to the burglars to buy their silence. After Nixon resigned, he would have likely been indicted and tried for obstruction of justice. However, President Ford gave him a full pardon, so there was no trial.
To the public, Nixon was being considered by many to be guilty of a crime he did not commit, which was prior knowledge of the break in. People thought he was guilty because so many of his close associates were involved. This is called “guilt by association” usually followed by “trial by the press” or today, “trial by social media.”
President Dilma is also going through trial by social media. Second, President Dilma also has attempted to shield Lula from the Lava Jato investigation by appointing him to the cabinet. However, she obviously did not hide this fact, and thought it was legal. The Supreme Court ruled against this appointment.
President Nixon also got overruled by the US Supreme Court when the Special Prosecutor subpoenaed the White House tapes. The US Supreme Court has made many ruling limiting actions of the president. They stopped President Truman when he tried to nationalize the US steel mills, stating this was beyond his authority. The Supreme Court is the final arbiter in conflicts between the Executive Branch and Lower Court decisions.
But Nixon secretly obstructed justice- and that proved to be his downfall. And President Dilma? The critical question going forward, is not whether she has made wrong decisions , but whether she knowingly violated the law. Also, were these violations at a level that requires her removal. Because once the senate starts lowering the standard on what is an impeachable offense, Presidents can only serve as long as the congress allows them. Congress can not lead a country, only cause a permanent state of chaos. The mandate to govern the country is given to the President by the people through open elections once every four years.
A number of our more famous presidents would have not served out their terms, if impeachment option was an easy option. Most likely, the Senate would impeach Obama tomorrow if it could do so on purely political basis.