In September 1974, President Gerald Ford officially pardoned Richard Nixon for all crimes he committed during the Watergate scandal.
When the pardon was granted, Nixon faced a mountain of evidence proving his involvement. Still, Ford’s pardon represented the importance of unity, forgiveness and professionalism amid national dishonesty. This remains one of the most infamous moments in American history.
More than 40 years later, the current president has falsely accused President Obama of wiretapping his telephone, a scandal he believes will be the country’s next Watergate, but lacks substantial evidence to prove the charge is anything but a fabrication. And what has his reaction been compared to the gracefulness of Ford?
An outright verbal assault, which has included the words “sick,” “low” and “bad” to describe a former president that has, in almost every poll to date, outshone Trump in approval and respectability. That is why Trump needs to be held accountable and forced to answer for his comments.
Washington has been busy lately. With dilemmas over attempted healthcare reform, tax reform and allegations over Trump’s cooperation with the Russian government, it is understandable how the heinousness of his accusations could slip under the press, yet that’s exactly why it needs exposure.
Trump has used one pointless distraction after another to cover his ineptitude.
When he settled a fraud case for $25 million, the headlines that week were not on his questionable business practices but his Twitter feud with the cast of “Hamilton.”
When his corporate conflicts of interest were piling up, the headlines that week were not his possibly unconstitutional appointments but his criticism of “Saturday Night Live.”
The same concept applies to his skirmish with Arnold Schwarzenegger over his apparently failing ratings as the host of the reality show “The Celebrity Apprentice.”
And with a 41 percent approval rating and a futile attempt to repeal Obamacare, Trump is back with his red herrings. But this time, it should garner attention.
In addition to needing to expose those red herrings, it’s time to tell the public that Trump’s distractions have now crossed a sacred line.
He has accused a former president of committing a federal offense and felony.
He tarnished the political concept of disagreeing with your opponents and predecessors while maintaining respectful civility.
But it gets worse: he attempted to mislead 300 million Americans into believing they witnessed the next Watergate with no proof of the matter.
Even if his accusations miraculously turn out to be true, his recklessness in pursuing them before any discernable evidence has been found is condemnable enough alone.
That is why, for once, Trump’s “side stories” should be given the exposure he wants.
It’s time to expose the fact he turned the professionalism of the presidency into a national embarrassment. It’s time to force him to answer why no evidence of wiretapping has been found three weeks after his original tweets.
It’s time to pressure him to start answering instead of distracting.
Austin Graves is a senior history major from Sioux Falls, S.D.