The History of Political Scandals in America

American Minute with Bill Federer
Political Scandals: Notable Instances in U.S. History

Bill Federer of the American Minute: White House scandals have been motivated by greed, love of power, lust, or a conviction that one’s political agenda is so good it justifies going around the law, as Machiavelli observed the corrupt tactics of Cesare Borgia:“the ends justifies the means.” 

Crossing political party lines, a list ofscandals, many of which were compiled by William A. Borst, Ph.D., in theMindszenty Report (Vol. IV-No. 8), included:

1868President Andrew Johnson, who refused to protect the right of freed slave to vote, resulting in the Republican Congress voting to impeach him.

1872 – President Grant’s Vice-President and several Congressmen received shares of stock in the construction company Crédit Mobilier, which was building the Union Pacific Railroad, in exchange for the company being allowed to fraudulently bill the government.

1875 – The Whiskey Ring conspiracy
involved bribery and tax evasion by government agents and whiskey distillers. Grant promised swift punishment, but when his personal secretary was implicated, Grant tried protect him, which only made the scandal worse. The Secretary of War was impeached.

1875 – Grant’s Secretary of the Interior, who advocated killing off the Buffalo to make way for the railroads, was forced to resign for taking bribes in exchange for land grants.

– during President Garfield’s administration, though he was not implicated, private companies delivered mail on the Star Route in America’s west. Low bids were given to postal officials, but when those officials presented the bids to Congress, they increased the amounts and pocketed the difference.

1921 – President Harding’s Secretary of the Interior was caught selling exclusive rights to oil reserves in Teapot Dome, Wyoming, in exchange for personal profit and cattle.

– President Harding’s Director of Veterans Affairs Charles Forbes was convicted and imprisoned for denying claims of wounded World War I veterans and embezzling $225 million.

1924 – President Harding’s Attorney General Harry Daugherty let pharmacies andbootleggers obtain permits to sell alcohol for ‘medicinal’ purposes during the era of prohibition. This, and other scandals, forced him to resign.

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1986 – during President Ronald Reagan’s term there was a scandal of a different kind – plans were made to sell arms to anti-Soviet forces in Iran in exchange for the release of U.S. hostages. Funds from the sale were to help Contra freedom fighters stop Soviet-backed communists from taking over Nicaragua – thus stopping communists on two fronts at no financial expense to the United States, but Democrats in Congress opposed this.

1998President Clinton had an illicit relationship with Monica Lewinsky, whose friend, Linda Trip, convinced her to keep a stained dress as protection to keep her from being added to the Clinton body count list, a collection of names circulating the Internet of deceased former Clinton associates.

Attempting to cover up the affair, Clinton was impeached for perjury and obstruction of justice.

2009 – President Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder was held in Contempt of Congressafter refusing to release documents regarding a Fast and Furious operation which provided guns to Mexican drug gangs.

2012 – prior to re-election, President Obama announced the war on terror was over. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with the 57 leaders of the OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation) promising support of a U.N. Resolution prohibiting speech insulting Islam.

On September 11, an attack occurred on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Six hours into the attack, the President spoke via telephone with Secretary Clinton but no rescue was attempted.

The next morning, Secretary Clinton’s State Department sent memos to YouTube and Google recommending they censor speech insulting Islam.

When it was discovered that the U.S. Ambassador in Benghazi had been denied repeated requests for increased security by the State Department and that the attacks were planned and not a result of a video, Secretary Clinton responded “What difference does it make.”


Reports and emails then surfaced that U.S. arms covertly used to oust Libya’s President Gaddafi were being moved through Benghazi, similar to the “Fast and Furious” scandal, to arm fundamentalist Muslims to oust Syria’s President Assad.

When Russia came to Assad’s defense, the Muslims armed by the U.S. attacked into Syria and Iraq, calling themselves ISIS.

2013 – after the President had met 157 times with the head of the IRS, Lois Lerner, she pleaded the 5th Amendment when asked by Congress about whether the agency targeted conservative political groups prior to the President’s re-election.

2016 – Hillary Clinton used secret email servers while secretary of State. When questions arose of servers being unsecured and possible coordination of the Secretary of State’s office with foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation, 30,000 of her emails were quickly deleted.

Her technology specialist, Bryan Pagliano, took the Fifth Amendment.

Immediately before release of the FBI probe of Hillary’s emails, and four Americans killed in Benghazi while Clinton was Secretary of State, Attorney General Loretta Lynch had an unprecedented meeting with former President Bill Clinton at the Phoenix Airport.

When interviewed, Lynch said “he mentioned the golf he played in Phoenix” though sources told ABC15 “former President Clinton did not play golf during his most recent visit in Phoenix.”

The FBI head James Comey chose not to investigate Hillary, though he described her behavior as “extremely careless.”

Following the FBI report, House Judiciary Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte noted that Hillary Clinton made false statements under oath to the House Benghazi committee about her emails.

Commentator Dick Morris revealed that several of Hillary’s emails did indeed expose nuclear scientist Shahram Amiri as an American spy, who was then executed in Iran.

1972 – Watergate: One of the most written about scandals began when five low-level members of President Nixon’s re-election team did a third-rate break-in of the Democratic headquarters in the Watergate building.

Though Nixon was not involved, effort to defend his subordinates led to him being implicated in a cover up.

The House Judiciary Committee staff prepared the articles of impeachment against President Nixon.

Hillary Rodham served on the Impeachment Inquiry staff.

Her conduct was described by Jerry Zeifman, the Chief Counsel of the House Judiciary Committee, as “dishonest” and that she “engaged in a variety of self-serving unethical practices in violation of House rules.”

Rather than face impeachment, President Nixon resigned.

Nixon’s resignation overshadowed numerous items occurring during his administration:

-ending racial segregation in southern schools
-NASA’s Apollo mission to the moon;
-ending the draft;
-officially recognizing “Fathers’ Day”;
-beginning the process to end the Cold War;
-fought foreign oil price gouging;
-produced a balanced budget;
-visited Beijing and Moscow;
-supported Israel in the Yom Kippur War and had Secretary of State Henry Kissinger attempt to negotiate agreements between Israel and Egypt and Syria.

On AUGUST 8, 1974, the 37th President of the United States, Richard Nixon, resigned, stating from the Oval Office:

“Good evening. This is the 37th time I have spoken to you from this office…

To continue to fight…for my personal vindication would almost totally absorb the time and attention of both the President and the Congress…

Therefore, I shall resign…

If some of my judgments were wrong…they were made in what I believed…to be the best interest of the Nation.”

Nixon continued, warning:

In the Middle East, 100 million people in the Arab countries, many of whom have considered us their enemy…now look on us as their friends.

We must continue to build on that friendship so that…the cradle of civilization will not become its grave.

Nixon added:

“I have taken heart from what Theodore Roosevelt once said about the man in the arena, ‘whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly… If he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly.’…

In leaving…I do so with this prayer: May God’s grace be with you in all the days ahead.”

Privately to his Cabinet, President Nixon said:

“Mistakes, yes…for personal gain, never…I can only say to each…of you…we come from many faiths…but really the same God…

You will be in our hearts and…in our prayers.”

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