Donald Trump with his legal team in court on April 4 after being indicted on 34 felony counts. [Source:]

History as usual provides a cautionary lesson

On August 8, 1974, Richard M. Nixon resigned from the presidency in disgrace with impeachment proceedings underway against him for the Watergate affair in which five men from his presidential election reelection committee were caught trying to break into and undertake illegal wiretapping in Democratic Party headquarters.

A picture containing text, bus, person

Description automatically generated

Liberals at the time celebrated Nixon’s downfall, believing that the rule of law had been upheld and that Nixon had been held accountable for his abuses of power.[1]

Poorly understood was the fact that Nixon was set up and was the victim of a plot by a cabal within the military and CIA that paved the way for the ascendancy of neoconservatism.


Description automatically generated

As Len Colodny and Robert Gettlin detailed in their book, Silent Coup: The Removal of a President (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1991), the CIA secretly infiltrated the “plumbers” and staged the break-in in a sloppy way—likely without Nixon’s approval—in order to get caught.[2]

The key culprits were CIA officers E. Howard Hunt and James W. McCord Jr., a top aide to former CIA Director Allen Dulles, who were coached to change their testimony before the Senate Watergate hearings to be made more incriminating to Nixon and his top aides.[3]

Another key participant in the plot was Alexander Haig, Nixon’s chief of staff (1973-1974) and Secretary of State under Ronald Reagan, who engineered the exposure of the secret White House taping system that recorded all of the President’s conversation in the Oval Office, and subsequently stacked the deck against Nixon’s legal defense.[4]

White House Counsel John Dean III played a crucial role in deceiving Nixon into joining a conspiracy to obstruct justice to cover up a crime he had not actually committed but that Dean had helped orchestrate.[5]

The final revelation that helped undermine Nixon was made by Alexander Butterfield, the White House deputy assistant in charge of supervising the President’s recording system, whom CBS News correspondent Daniel Schorr called “the CIA’s man in the White House.”[6]

Mark Felt (AKA “deep throat”), who had overseen COINTELPRO operations before becoming assistant director of the FBI in 1972, leaked the story of the break-in to Bob Woodward, who had an intelligence background going back to his days in the U.S. Navy when he was a briefer for Alexander Haig. Woodward worked for The Washington Post, whose owners, Philip and Katherine Graham, routinely used their newspaper to promote CIA disinformation.

The connection between Woodward and Haig has led some researchers to suggest that Haig was the real “deep throat,” not Felt, whereas others believe the real “deep throat” was someone else high up in the CIA.[7]

The reason that Nixon was targeted was because a faction in the ruling class felt that he was too divisive and could no longer rule by consensus.

Forging an alliance with the Rockefeller wing of the GOP that was part of the East Coast establishment, Nixon adopted tariffs and price controls opposed by high finance, furthermore, and backchannel diplomacy with both Russia and China as a prelude to his support for arms control agreements (notably the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty-SALT I) and détente policies that deescalated tensions in the Cold War.[8]

A group of men in suits

Description automatically generated with medium confidence
Nixon’s relationship with Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev and pursuit of détente aroused the anger of the neo-conservatives, much like the 2017 Putin-Trump summit. [Source:]

Nixon additionally opposed granting the intelligence and military bureaucracies more autonomy, using the National Security Council (NSC) under Henry Kissinger as a weapon against them after having grown skeptical of their conformism, inefficiencies and errors, and the way they shielded themselves from accountability and control by the executive branch.[9]

The above policies ignited opposition among neoconservatives, including figures such as Paul Nitze, Henry “Scoop” Jackson and Walt W. Rostow, who mobilized in opposition to détente and rallied support behind Ronald Reagan.[10]

Reagan’s base lay among southern and western-rooted military, high-tech, fossil fuel and other extractive industries and Christian evangelicals intent on waging a holy war against the godless communists and hippie movement even more determinantly than Nixon and his supporters.[11]

Reagan’s victory in the 1980s election and subsequent revitalization of the Cold War was made possible by the removal of Nixon from power by secret unconstitutional means.

Ronald Reagan gives his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, Detroit, July 17, 1980. [Source:]

History Repeating Itself in a Different Way

Fifty years after Nixon’s downfall, the dominant faction of the ruling elite has been involved in another effort—less secret and sophisticated this time—to politically destroy a president who resembles Nixon in certain ways and even shares a key adviser in common (Roger Stone).

Political dirty trickster Roger Stone has advised both Nixon and Trump. [Source:]

Donald Trump is a megalomaniac who presents himself as an outsider like Nixon and whipping boy of the Eastern establishment, while railing against a largely invented left (Trump called arch-capitalist Joe Biden a “trojan horse of socialism”) and calling for law and order.

Like Nixon, Trump is also very polarizing in a way that threatens domestic stability.

The part of the ruling class that hates Trump is in favor of aggressive imperialist actions to strengthen the U.S. empire, whereas the wing supporting Trump is less aggressive internationally because their economic base is rooted in domestic manufacturing, which Trump had promised to revitalize in part through revival of Nixonian protectionist policies, and less in finance.

Though escalating the drone war and provoking confrontation with China, Trump met with American adversaries like Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-Un, and expressed scorn for the CIA in a way no president ever has, suggesting that U.S. intelligence officers are “disgraceful, “politically motivated” and “sick people,” who “spread fake news.”

Trump further earned the ire of many in the ruling class by a) vowing to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, b) cutting back on U.S. troop levels in Iraq, Germany, South Korea and Somalia, c) questioning the legitimacy of NATO, and d) blocking the U.S. from joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a centerpiece of Barack Obama’s “Pivot to Asia” policy that promised endless corporate profits.

Additionally, Trump adopted extreme immigration policies that threatened to undermine cheap labor supply; and advocated at times for an “America First” program that harkened back to early 1930s isolationism.[12]

Trump shakes hands with North Korean leader Kim JongUn: not something the neocons were happy to see. [Source:]

More recently, Trump offered a stinging rebuke to the Biden administration’s foreign policy, stating in a February 28th speech that “for decades, we’ve had the very same people, such as Victoria Nuland and many others just like her, obsessed with pushing Ukraine towards NATO, not to mention the State Department support for uprisings in Ukraine. These people have been seeking confrontation for a long time, much like in the case in Iraq and other parts of the world and now we’re teetering on the brink of World War III.”

Trump is the first ex-president to attack neocons like Victoria Nuland who have provoked war after war. [Source:]

Trump’s volatility, thinly veiled bigotry and crudeness was not in the manner expected of imperial statesmen.[13] Calling his generals “dopes” and “losers,” Trump admitted that America was not really exceptional; stating that Americans had occupied Syria to steal its oil; and telling a Fox News reporter who asked whether Putin had killed his opponents that: “there are a lot of killers. You think our country is so innocent?”

This isn’t what presidents are supposed to say.

In 2017, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) told MSNBC host Rachel Maddow after Trump challenged the claim that Russia had interfered in the 2016 election, “you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you.”

Chuck Schumer warned Trump. [Source:]

Bernie Sanders was also seen as a threat to the ruling class in the 2016 and 2020 elections that was successfully contained when he was removed through a rigged primary process by the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

Since Trump made it past his party’s gatekeepers, he had to be dealt with by other means.

From Russia-gate to the April 4 Indictment

These means have included the artificially manufactured Russia-gate scandal, which was initiated by the “deep state” as a 21st Century successor to Watergate.

Hillary Clinton, a key mastermind, had herself commenced her career as a Watergate lawyer on the House Judiciary committee, where she began to develop her reputation as a liberal Nixon for her use of political dirty tricks.[14]

Hillary Clinton as a young Watergate lawyer with other staff working for the House Judiciary Committee. [Source:]

The supposed smoking gun in the Russia-gate proceedings was the Steele dossier, which was exposed as a hoax produced by a British spy, Christopher Steele.


Description automatically generated

An alleged email hack by the Russians that purported to expose their election interference was shown by former intelligence American professionals to have been a leak undertaken somewhere in the U.S. based on the speed of the modem.

When Special Counsel Robert Mueller released a report, it determined there was no evidence to corroborate that Trump had colluded with the Russians to rig the 2016 election.


In 2019, the Democrats tried in vain again to impeach Trump by accusing him of withholding $400 million in military aid to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in an attempt to pressure Zelenskyy to launch an investigation into Joe Biden and his son Hunter’s appointment to the board of a natural gas company in Ukraine, Burisma.

Scene from the Trump Ukraine impeachment hearings. [Source:]

As part of the Russia-gate investigation, a number of Trump’s top aides were prosecuted, including the old Nixonite Roger Stone, who characterized his trial—on charges of allegedly lying to congress about what he knew about the release of Wikileaks documents—as a “Soviet style show trial.”[15]

Roger Stone gives Nixon salute outside his trial for allegedly lying to congress–which he was convicted for and sentenced to three years in prison. [Source:]

In 2022, the House formed a select committee to investigate the January 6 Capitol riots, headed by Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and Liz Cheney (R-WY), which recommended criminal charges against Trump—now a private citizen—for triggering the insurrection.

Two people at a podium with flags behind them

Description automatically generated with medium confidence
Thompson and Cheney presiding over the House Select committee set up to investigate Trump’s role in the January 6 hearings. [Source:]

While the latter charges held merit, the committee’s singular focus on Trump’s role in provoking the riot left unanswered questions about FBI informants and possible provocateurs among the rioters and other oddities surrounding the events, including some unexplained deaths and the placing of pipe bombs outside the headquarters of the Democratic and Republican party headquarters the night before.

The latest salvo in the ruling class plot to remove Trump appears to have taken place on April 4, 2023, when Trump was indicted by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg on 34 felony counts for falsifying business records as part of a scheme to cover up two illicit affairs.

Legal experts quickly pointed out that the offense in which Trump is charged is normally categorized as a misdemeanor.

Bragg said in the indictment that Trump made false statements to cover up crimes related to the 2016 election, though he does not lay out any evidence of this—causing Trump’s supporters and many legal experts to question the validity of the case.[16]

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, leaving his office in New York on March 30, 2023, became the first prosecutor in U.S. history to charge a former president. The 49-year-old Democrat is the first Black Manhattan DA, winning election to the post in November 2021.
The man at the center of the storm—Alvin Bragg. [Source:]

Last year, Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign and the Democratic National Committee agreed to pay fines of $8,000 and $105,000 respectively, for mislabeling a $175,000 expenditure on opposition research, namely the long-discredited “Steele dossier,” as “legal expenses”—which is very similar to what Trump is accused of doing in a slightly different context.

What Should Progressives Do?

While we do not know for sure that Bragg’s prosecution is over-zealous as he could be withholding some smoking gun, it appears to be a continuation of the illegal six-year campaign—orchestrated covertly by the intelligence community and reinforced overtly by newspapers, TV stations, cable networks and the social media giants they long ago infiltrated and now control—to undermine Trump, whose main effect so far has been largely to bolster Trump’s popularity since he can present himself as a victim.

The question for progressives is whether to support such a campaign when we know Trump to be a dangerous and loathsome figure who aspires to be an American Mussolini.

Good people may have different answers to this question, and if Trump truly is a fascist, one can justify an attitude of anything goes.

However, by aligning with the dominant faction of the ruling class that is against Trump, one is aligning with the forces that have tried to exploit liberal anger about Trump’s election to drum up Russophobia and trigger a war in Ukraine with Russia that could easily escalate into a nuclear war.

History shows furthermore that by removing one cancer (Dick Nixon), the ruling elite can produce an even worse malignancy (Ronald Reagan) and empower dark forces that have taken us to the horrible point that we’re at today—and are not the ones capable of taking us out of it.

The latter can best be done through the traditional formula of grassroots organizing and movement building in regions of the country where Trump draws his political support.

  1. Noam Chomsky noted that the offenses for which Nixon was prosecuted were largely trivial compared to his crimes in expanding the Indochina Wars, including by illegally bombing Laos and Cambodia, and in his support for the FBI’s Counterintelligence operation (COINTELPRO), which committed myriad unconstitutional acts in targeting the Black Panther Party, Socialist Workers Party (SWP) and other leftist organizations. A similar argument was made in Salon about Donald Trump by Chris Hedges, who invoked Chomsky’s article. Trump’s most egregious crimes included illegal drone strikes, assassination, and the attempted engineering of foreign coups for which he nor any other member of his administration was ever prosecuted for.

  2. Len Colodny and Robert Gettlin, Silent Coup: The Removal of a President (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1991). See also Jim Hougan, Secret Agenda: Watergate, Deep Throat, and the CIA (New York: Random House, 1984).

  3. McCord had been instrumental in the coverup of the CIA’s murder of Dr. Frank Olson and served as a deputy to Paul Gaynor, a powerful figure in the CIA who had played an essential role in some of the Agency’s darkest projects, including MK-ULTRA, Project Artichoke and Project Bluebird involving unethical experiments with hypnosis and drugs involving human guinea pigs, and kept files on the sexual proclivities of political officials. Nixon’s “plumbers” who carried out illegal surveillance and other clandestine operations for him, included others with CIA backgrounds, notably Frank Sturgis, who had served alongside Hunt in the Agency’s anti-Castro operations and CIA-trained Cuban exiles Virgilio Gonzalez, Bernard Barker, and Eugenio Martinez. Many of the “plumbers” were also involved in the Kennedy assassination. See Peter Dale Scott, Crime and Cover-Up: The CIA, the Mafia and the Dallas-Watergate Connection (Westworks, 1977).

  4. Haig had earlier been part of the anti-détente spy ring at the heart of the Moorer-Radford affair, a surveillance operation run by far right-wing military officers targeting Nixon. He also ordered an Army Criminal Investigation Command (CIC) investigation into Nixon’s mob ties and to his smuggling of gold into Vietnam in a clear effort to bring Nixon down.

  5. According to various sources, Dean had ordered the break-in to obtain information on a secret DNC-prostitution ring of which Dean’s girlfriend, Maureen Biner, was involved. One of the burglars, Eugenio Martinez, was arrested with the key to the desk of Maxie Wells, the Secretary of DNC official Spencer Oliver, whose office was used to run the prostitution ring. The CIA had promoted disinformation claiming that the purpose of the break-in was to unearth covert funding by Fidel Castro to Democratic Party politicians.

  6. Aaron Good, American Exception: Empire and the Deep State (New York: Skyhorse Publishing, 2022), 191. Watergate Special Prosecutor Leon Jaworski was a board member of a CIA front company, the M.D. Anderson Foundation. Jesse Ventura, with Dick Russell American Conspiracies (New York: Skyhorse, 2010), 90.

  7. Colodny and Gettlin in Silent Coup suggest that information that Woodward attributes to “Deep Throat” simply could not have been known by Felt at that place and time, so he was either someone else or a composite of informants.

  8. Good, American Exception, ch. 9.

  9. In 1973, Nixon appointed as CIA Director James Schlesinger, who fired more than 1,000 agents. Kissinger later noted that a key reason for Nixon’s animus towards the CIA was because he had “brought to the presidency a belief that the CIA was a refuge of Ivy League intellectuals opposed to him.” Whitney Webb, One Nation under Blackmail, Vol. 1: The sordid union between intelligence and Organized Crime that gave rise to Jeffrey Epstein (Walterville, OR: Trine Day, 2022), 177. Aaron Good points out that Nixon’s War on Drugs angered the CIA because it threatened to undermine many of its operations and expose its covert “assets” that were drug traffickers. Nixon may have also had knowledge about CIA involvement in the Kennedy assassination that they were leery about being exposed. Good, American Exception, ch. 10.

  10. See Jerry Sanders, Peddlers of Crisis: The Committee on the Present Danger and Politics of Containment (Boston, MA: South End Press, 1983).

  11. Kirkpatrick Sale, Power Shift: The Rise of the Southern Rim and its Challenge to the Eastern Establishment (New York: Random House, 1975). Former SDS President Carl Oglesby described the ruling class divide as being between “yankees” who were part of the Eastern establishment and helped form the CIA, and “cowboys” who rallied behind Reagan and promoted an extremely anticommunist and hawkish foreign policy. Michael Klare differentiated between “Prussians,” or military hawks tied to military industry, and “traders,” Wall Street high finance who embraced neoliberal and neoconservative policies. Michael T. Klare, “The Prussians V. The Traders,” New Internationalist, March 4, 1984,

  12. Christian Parenti details how Trump’s foreign policy team worked actively to thwart him, writing that “Gary Cohn, Trump’s top economic advisor, went so far as to twice steal from the president’s desk important documents awaiting the president’s signature. One would have withdrawn the United States from a trade agreement with South Korea. The other would have unilaterally pulled the U.S. out of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).” Parenti writes also that Mark Esper, who spent a year and a half as Trump’s second Secretary of Defense, “made an art of blocking implementation of Trump’s empire-wrecking directives. When Trump demanded that one third of the American military personnel in Germany come home, Esper drew up a plan to instead ‘redeploy’ 11,500 troops with more than half of these remaining in the European theater. Indeed, Esper even managed to spin the redeployment as advancing America’s traditional agenda of threatening Russia.” At the end of his piece, Parenti writes: “Look abroad. Trump threatened the entire system of U.S. global hegemony. He threatened it for different reasons and in different ways than might grassroots, socialist, anti-imperialists, but he threatened U.S. empire nonetheless.” Christian Parenti, “Trump Against Empire: Is That Why They Hate Him?” The Grayzone Project, February 15, 2023.

  13. Trump called Third World countries “shitholes,” giving off a bad image for a country purporting to be on a crusade to spread democracy and goodwill around the world.

  14. See Barbara Olsen, Hell to Pay: The Unfolding Story of Hillary Rodham Clinton (Washington, D.C.: Regnery, 2001), 4, 5.

  15. Judge Amy Berman Jackson displayed her bias in Stone’s sentencing hearing when she stated that “Stone was not prosecuted for standing up to the president, he was prosecuted for covering up for the president.” The Mueller inquiry, however, never revealed that Trump colluded with Russia and Wikileaks or was involved in any significant malfeasance for him to require Stone to cover it up.

  16. Significantly, the payments to Stormy Daniels were made six years ago and facts have been publicly known for five, but Mr. Bragg’s predecessor, Cyrus Vance Jr. declined to pursue an indictment against Trump and Merrick Garland’s Justice Department also declined. According to Paul Rosenzweig, a former federal prosecutor, Bragg’s filing is a “very plain vanilla indictment,” which “doesn’t even say what the ‘other crime’ is that converts misdemeanors to be converted into felonies.” UCLA School of Law professor Richard Hasen, who previously called for Trump to be charged in a separate inquiry over the January 6, 2021 Capitol Hill riots, said political and legal considerations should have prevented Bragg from moving forward. “The legal papers are quite skimpy–if this was in federal [or national] court I would expect more of the theory of the case to be in there,” Hasen said. “If this case is weak … some in the public might surmise that they are all weak,” he added, referring to investigations in Georgia and elsewhere over Trump’s alleged interference in the 2020 presidential election.

CovertAction Magazine is made possible by subscriptionsorders and donations from readers like you.

Blow the Whistle on U.S. Imperialism

Click the whistle and donate

When you donate to CovertAction Magazine, you are supporting investigative journalism. Your contributions go directly to supporting the development, production, editing, and dissemination of the Magazine.

CovertAction Magazine does not receive corporate or government sponsorship. Yet, we hold a steadfast commitment to providing compensation for writers, editorial and technical support. Your support helps facilitate this compensation as well as increase the caliber of this work.

Please make a donation by clicking on the donate logo above and enter the amount and your credit or debit card information.

CovertAction Institute, Inc. (CAI) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and your gift is tax-deductible for federal income purposes. CAI’s tax-exempt ID number is 87-2461683.

We sincerely thank you for your support.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s). CovertAction Institute, Inc. (CAI), including its Board of Directors (BD), Editorial Board (EB), Advisory Board (AB), staff, volunteers and its projects (including CovertAction Magazine) are not responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in this article. This article also does not necessarily represent the views the BD, the EB, the AB, staff, volunteers, or any members of its projects.

Differing viewpoints: CAM publishes articles with differing viewpoints in an effort to nurture vibrant debate and thoughtful critical analysis. Feel free to comment on the articles in the comment section and/or send your letters to the Editors, which we will publish in the Letters column.

Copyrighted Material: This web site may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. As a not-for-profit charitable organization incorporated in the State of New York, we are making such material available in an effort to advance the understanding of humanity’s problems and hopefully to help find solutions for those problems. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. You can read more about ‘fair use’ and US Copyright Law at the Legal Information Institute of Cornell Law School.

Republishing: CovertAction Magazine (CAM) grants permission to cross-post CAM articles on not-for-profit community internet sites as long as the source is acknowledged together with a hyperlink to the original CovertAction Magazine article. Also, kindly let us know at For publication of CAM articles in print or other forms including commercial internet sites, contact:

By using this site, you agree to these terms above.

About the Author


  1. Intelligent conclusion Jeremy. Tough call, though. Racism, vulgar chauvinism, proto-type fascist leanings, Roy Cohn for a friend-lawyer, narsicism…how do black people fit into these contradictions, and feminists, gays….
    One thing for certain, a vote for Democrats is a vote for permanent war and the CIA…Bernie Sanders or not.
    The streets, inside the unions, with liberation and equality for all peoples is our path forward!

Leave a Reply