Comey memo has Democrats dreaming impeachment,

Comey-gate is the biggest scandal since Nixon but the results might be different, says Prof. Jeffrey Engel, director of the SMU Center for Presidential History.

Jeffrey Engel

DALLAS (SMU)SMU political science faculty are available to lend their expertise to journalists reporting on the latest politics of the day. A full list of available faculty and their areas of expertise is available here. Following are comments from Professor Jeffrey Engel, director of the SMU Center for Presidential History.

Jeffrey EngelJeffrey Engel

On how the D.C. of today compares to the D.C. of Nixon’s time…

  • “It was less partisan then, but still bitter, because we were in the midst of the Vietnam War. One critical difference between Nixon and Trump is that during Watergate, we had no easy precedent in our lifetimes to look back on and know what to expect. With Trump, everyone is drawing a line to Nixon, and we know how it turned out. So instead of people asking the question that was posed during Watergate, ‘What happens next?’ people know how that turned out and instead ask, ‘Have we reached the point where Trump has to leave office?’”
  • “One big difference is the Democrats controlled the house and the senate during Nixon’s presidency, so investigations could move forward. I wouldn’t bet a single dollar on impeachment or resignation of Trump at this point because that’s still a political question and, given the GOP’s hold on the house, I just don’t see them getting the two-thirds majority needed to draw up articles of impeachment.”

On a president’s ability to fight an investigation or trial into their wrongdoing…

  • “At this point, this is a self-inflicted wound. We aren’t even talking about disclosing classified information or if there was collusion with the Russians. We’re talking about obstruction of justice. The president can put up a hell of a political fight and kick and scream and do all sorts of things to slow his political demise, but if any of those things obstruct justice, that adds fuel to the fire of what he’s being accused of.”

Books published:

  • When Life Strikes the White House: Death, Scandal, Sickness and Personal Tragedies in the Oval Office, Jeffrey A. Engel and Thomas J. Knock, eds. New York: Oxford University Press, 2017
  • Into the Desert: Reflections on the Gulf War, Jeffrey A. Engel, ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012
  • Rethinking Leadership and “Whole of Government” National Security Reform, with Joseph R. Cerami. Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College, 2010


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