Donald Trump seems determined to replicate in a few short years as President all of the Washington scandals of the past 50 years, from Watergate to the Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill hearings to the Hurricane Katrina debacle.
Case in point: After first showing unusual restraint when Christine Blasey Ford came forward to say that she was sexually assaulted by Brett Kavanaugh — a claim he denies — when the current Supreme Court nominee was a 17-year-old prep school student, Trump on Friday did his best to own the controversy. He tweeted:
“I have no doubt that, if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities by either her or her loving parents. I ask that she bring those filings forward so that we can learn date, time, and place!”
Comparisons to the Clarence Thomas crisis of the George H. W. Bush administration are inevitable, even though Bush himself did not behave as Trump has. Trump had no way of knowing about Blasey Ford’s allegation of Kavanaugh when he nominated the judge for the Supreme Court, but the President’s handling of the matter has made it much worse. He has insulted her by calling her “the woman” and instead of asking the FBI to investigate, as Bush did with Thomas, he has said such probes are “not the FBI’s thing.” This is false.
Of course, every scandal is unique, so exact comparisons to the woes of earlier presidents cannot be drawn. But the echoes are unmistakable and have become impossible to ignore.