Donald Trump has authored numerous pieces of history.
He was the first president without prior experience in the military or government, the first to face two impeachments and the first to contest his successor’s certification vehemently.
He now adds another: He is the first former president to be prosecuted even though he intends to run for office again in 2025.
Trump’s most recent transgression calls into question once more the aura of the American president, cultivated by George Washington’s infallibility but repeatedly made human by scandals arising from avarice and the abuse of power, corruption, and corruption naivete, sex, and lies about sex, and more.
Trump is not the first president to have legal issues, in office or out.
Richard Nixon might have escaped prosecution in 1974 for bribery or obstruction of justice in connection with the Watergate crisis if not for President Gerald Ford’s pardon of Nixon a few weeks after his resignation.
After reaching a plea agreement with prosecutors in 2001, towards the conclusion of his second term, over accusations that he had lied under oath about his relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, Bill Clinton’s law license in his home state of Arkansas was suspended for five years.
Also, Trump is being looked at for his alleged attempts to tamper with the Georgia 2020 election results after he nearly lost the state to Democrat Joe Biden and for his involvement in the violence at the U.S. on January 6, 2021, when Trump backers tried to block Congress from certifying Biden as president.
Trump has labeled the New York probe “a witch hunt” and denied any misconduct.
Trump followed the Justice Department’s legal conclusion that a president could not be indicted while in office. The protection disappears, though, if a president leaves office.
Over the past 50 years, most former presidents have maintained very routine public lives, founding foundations, giving expensive speeches, or, in Jimmy Carter’s case, engaging in a lot of humanitarian work. Although Nixon’s scandal left a long-lasting scar, he finally returned to discuss world affairs and offer advice to rising politicians and presidential candidates, including Trump.
The “smoking gun” evidence, which included Nixon-initiated Oval Office tape recordings that showed he had directed a cover-up of the 1972 break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate complex in Washington, was the immediate reason for Nixon’s resignation.
By 1974, the scandal had grown much past the original offense. Many of Nixon’s most influential advisers had left their positions and ended up in prison. Nixon could have been the target of the Watergate special counsel.