The Past 5 GOP Presidents Have Used Fraud and Treason to Steer Themselves to Electoral Victory
People are wondering out loud about the parallels between today’s Republican Party and organized crime , and whether “Teflon Don” Trump will remain unscathed through his many scandals, ranging from interactions with foreign oligarchs to killing tens of thousands of Americans by denying them healthcare to stepping up the destruction of our environment  and public lands.
History suggests – even if treason can be demonstrated – that, as long as he holds onto the Republican Party (and Fox News), he’ll survive it intact. And he won’t be the first Republican president to commit high crimes to get and stay in office.
In fact, Eisenhower was the last legitimately elected Republican president we’ve had in this country.
Since Dwight Eisenhower left the presidency in 1961, six different Republicans have occupied the Oval Office.
And every single one of them – from Richard Nixon to Donald Trump – have been illegitimate – ascending to the highest office in the land not through small-D democratic elections – but instead through fraud and treason.
(And today’s GOP-controlled Congress is arguably just as corrupt and illegitimate, acting almost entirely within the boundaries set by an organized group of billionaires.)
Let’s start at the beginning with Richard Nixon.
In 1968 – President Lyndon Johnson was desperately trying to end the Vietnam war.
But Richard Nixon knew that if the war continued – it would tarnish Democrat (and Vice President) Hubert Humphrey’s chances of winning the 1968 election.
So Nixon sent envoys from his campaign to talk to South Vietnamese leaders to encourage them not to attend an upcoming peace talk in Paris.
Nixon promised South Vietnam’s corrupt politicians that he would give them a richer deal when he was President than LBJ could give them then.
LBJ found out about this political maneuver to prolong the Vietnam war just 3 days before the 1968 election. He phoned the Republican Senate leader Everett Dirksen – here’s an excerpt (you can listen to the entire conversation here):
Some of our folks, including some of the old China lobby, are going to the Vietnamese embassy and saying please notify the [South Vietnamese] president that if he’ll hold out ’til November the second they could get a better deal. Now, I’m reading their hand, Everett. I don’t want to get this in the campaign.
And they oughtn’t to be doin’ this. This is treason.
Sen. Dirksen: I know.
Those tapes were only released by the LBJ library in the past decade, and that’s Richard Nixon that Lyndon Johnson was accusing of treason.
But by then – Nixon’s plan had worked.
South Vietnam boycotted the peace talks – the war continued – and Nixon won the White House thanks to it. As a result, additional tens of thousands of American soldiers, and hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese civilians, died as a result of Nixon’s treason.
And Nixon was never held to account for it.
Gerald Ford was the next Republican.
After Nixon left office the same way he entered it – by virtue of breaking the law – Gerald Ford took over.
Ford was never elected to the White House (he was appointed to replace VP Spiro Agnew, after Agnew was indicted for decades of taking bribes), and thus would never have been President had it not been for Richard Nixon’s treason.
The third was Ronald Reagan, elected in 1980.
He won thanks to a little something called the October Surprise – when his people sabotaged then-President Jimmy Carter’s negotiations to release American hostages in Iran.
According to Iran’s then-president, Reagan’s people promised the Iranians that if they held off on releasing the American hostages until just after the election – then Reagan would give them a sweet weapons deal.
In 1980 Carter thought he had reached a deal with newly-elected Iranian President Abdolhassan Bani-Sadr over the release of the fifty-two hostages held by radical students at the American Embassy in Tehran.
Bani-Sadr was a moderate and, as he explained in an editorial for The Christian Science Monitor  earlier this year, had successfully run for President on the popular position of releasing the hostages:
“I openly opposed the hostage-taking throughout the election campaign…. I won the election with over 76 percent of the vote…. Other candidates also were openly against hostage-taking, and overall, 96 percent of votes in that election were given to candidates who were against it [hostage-taking].”
Carter was confident that with Bani-Sadr’s help, he could end the embarrassing hostage crisis that had been a thorn in his political side ever since it began in November of 1979. But Carter underestimated the lengths his opponent in the 1980 Presidential election, California Governor Ronald Reagan, would go to win an election.
Behind Carter’s back, the Reagan campaign worked out a deal  with the leader of Iran’s radical faction – Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini – to keep the hostages in captivity until after the 1980 Presidential election.
This was nothing short of treason. The Reagan campaign’s secret negotiations with Khomeini – the so-called “October Surprise” – sabotaged Carter and Bani-Sadr’s attempts to free the hostages. And as Bani-Sadr told The Christian Science Monitor in March  of 2013:
After arriving in France [in 1981], I told a BBC reporter that I had left Iran to expose the symbiotic relationship between Khomeinism and Reaganism.
Ayatollah Khomeini and Ronald Reagan had organized a clandestine negotiation, later known as the “October Surprise,” which prevented the attempts by myself and then-US President Jimmy Carter to free the hostages before the 1980 US presidential election took place. The fact that they were not released tipped the results of the election in favor of Reagan.
And Reagan’s treason – just like Nixon’s treason – worked perfectly.
The Iran hostage crisis continued and torpedoed Jimmy Carter’s re-election hopes.
And the same day Reagan took the oath of office – almost to the minute, by way of Iran’s acknowledging the deal – the American hostages in Iran were released.
And for that, Reagan began selling the Iranians weapons and spare parts in 1981, and continued until he was busted for it in 1986, producing the so-called “Iran Contra” scandal.
But, like Nixon, Reagan was never held to account for the criminal and treasonous actions that brought him to office.
After Reagan – Bush senior was elected – but like Gerry Ford – Bush was really only President because he served as Vice President under Reagan.
If the October Surprise hadn’t hoodwinked voters in 1980 – you can bet Bush senior would never have been elected in 1988. That’s four illegitimate Republican presidents.
And that brings us to George W. Bush, the man who was given the White House by five right-wing justices on the Supreme Court.
In the Bush v. Gore  Supreme Court decision in 2000 that stopped the Florida recount and thus handed George W. Bush the presidency – Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in his opinion:
“The counting of votes … does in my view threaten irreparable harm to petitioner [George W. Bush], and to the country, by casting a cloud upon what he [Bush] claims to be the legitimacy of his election.”
Apparently, denying the presidency to Al Gore, the guy who actually won the most votes in Florida, did not constitute “irreparable harm” to Scalia or the media.
And apparently it wasn’t important that Scalia’s son worked for the law firm that was defending George W. Bush before the high court (thus no Scalia recusal).
Just like it wasn’t important to mention that Justice Clarence Thomas’s wife worked on the Bush transition team and was busy accepting resumes from people who would serve in the Bush White House if her husband stopped the recount in Florida…which he did. (No Thomas recusal, either.)
And more than a year after the election – a consortium of newspapers including The Washington Post, The New York Times, and USA Today did their own recount in Florida – manually counting every vote in a process that took almost a year – and concluded that Al Gore did indeed win the presidency in 2000.
As the November 12th, 2001 article  in The New York Times read:
“If all the ballots had been reviewed under any of seven single standards and combined with the results of an examination of overvotes, Mr. Gore would have won.”
That little bit of info was slipped into the seventeenth paragraph of the Times story on purpose so that it would attract as little attention as possible around the nation.
Why? because the 9/11 attacks had just happened – and journalists feared that burdening Americans with the plain truth that George W. Bush actually lost the election would further hurt a nation that was already in crisis.
And none of that even considered that Bush could only have gotten as close to Gore as he did because his brother, Florida Governor Jeb Bush, had ordered his Secretary of State, Kathrine Harris, to purge  at least 57,000 mostly-Black voters from the state’s rolls just before the election.
So for the third time in 4 decades – Republicans took the White House under illegitimate electoral circumstances. Even President Carter was shocked  by the brazenness of that one.
And Jeb Bush and the GOP were never held to account for that crime against democracy.
Most recently, in 2016, Kris Kobach and Republican Secretaries of State across the nation used Interstate Crosscheck  to purge millions of legitimate voters – most people of color – from the voting rolls just in time for the Clinton/Trump election.
Millions of otherwise valid American voters were denied their right to vote because they didn’t own the requisite ID – a modern-day poll-tax that’s spread across every Republican state with any consequential black, elderly, urban, or college-student population (all groups less likely to have a passport or drivers’ license).
Donald Trump still lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes, but came to power through an electoral college designed to keep slavery safe  in colonial America.
You can only wonder how much better off America would be if 6 Republican Presidents hadn’t stolen or inherited a stolen White House.
In fact – the last legitimate Republican President – Dwight Eisenhower – was unlike any other Republican president since.
He ran for the White House on a platform of peace – that he would end the Korean War.
This from one of his TV campaign ads:
“The nation, haunted by the stalemate in Korea, looks to Eisenhower. Eisenhower knows how to deal with the Russians. He has met Europe leaders, has got them working with us. Elect the number one man for the number one job of our time. November 4th vote for peace. Vote for Eisenhower.”
Two of his campaign slogans were “I like Ike” and “Vote For Peace, Vote For Eisenhower “.
Ike was a moderate Republican who stood up for working people – who kept tax rates on the rich at 91 percent – and made sure that the middle class in America was protected by FDR’s New Deal policies.
As he told his brother Edgar in 1954 in a letter:
“Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history.”
And Eisenhower was right – the only way Republicans have been able to win the presidency since he left office in 1961 has been by outright treason, a criminal fraud involving conflicted members of the Supreme Court, or by being vice-president under an already-illegitimate president.
And that’s where we are today, dealing with the aftermath of all these Republican crimes and six illegitimate Republican presidents stacking the Supreme Court and the federal judiciary.
And this doesn’t even begin to tell the story of how the Republican majority in the senate represents 36 million fewer  Americans than do the Democrats. Or how in most elections in past decades, Democrats have gotten more votes for the House of Representatives, but Republicans have controlled it because of gerrymandering .
This raises serious questions about the legitimacy of the modern Republican Party itself.
They work hand-in-glove with a group of right-wing billionaires and billionaire-owned or dominated media outlets like Fox and “conservative” TV and radio outlets across the nation, along with a very well-funded network of rightwing websites.
The Koch Network’s various groups, for example, have more money, more offices, and more staff than the Republican Party itself. Three times more employees and twice the budget, in fact . Which raises the question: which is the dog, and which is the tail?
And, as we’ve seen so vividly in the “debate” about healthcare this year, the Republicans, like Richard Nixon, are not encumbered by the need to tell the truth .
Whether it’s ending trade deals, bringing home jobs, protecting Social Security and Medicaid, or saving our public lands and environment – virtually every promise that Trump ran and won on is being broken . Meanwhile, the oligarchs continue to pressure Republican senators  to vote their way.
Meanwhile, a public trust that has taken 240 years to build is being destroyed , as public lands, regulatory agencies, and our courts are handed off to oligarchs and transnational corporations to exploit or destroy.
The Trump and Republican campaign of 2016, Americans are now discovering, was nearly all lies, well-supported by a vast right-wing media machine  and a timid, profit-obsessed “mainstream” corporate media. Meanwhile, it seemed that all the Democrats could say was, “The children are watching!”
Fraud, treason, and lies have worked well for the GOP for half a century.
Thus, the Democrats are right to now fine-tune their message to the people. But in addition to “A Better Deal,” they may want to consider adding to their agenda a solid RICO investigation into the GOP and the oligarchs who fund it.
It’s way past time to stop the now-routine Republican practice of using treason, lies, and crime to gain and hold political power.
Arlen Grossman, regarding the notion that Ronald Reagan stole the election from Jimmy Carter, it is a sign of delusional thinking for people to accuse other people of trying to orchestrate certain events in a way that would benefit their preferred candidate. Like I said, the debacle associated with the Florida recount clearly closed the case related to George W. Bush being legitimately elected. Multiple recounts were done. The fact that it had to escalate to the U.S. Supreme Court was just a sign of people who hated George W. Bush acting like sore losers.
I agree, Ragnar, Reagan won fairly. But of course, I disagree with you on George W. Bush
Arlen Grossman, how many recounts would have been required to convince these people-10? 20? 30? 40? They all would have said the same thing, so this talk of stolen elections is discredited when the facts are looked at.
That would depend on whose “facts” you are using, Ragnar.
Arlen Grossman, Ben Shapiro said that facts don’t care about our feelings. If the fact that George W. Bush was legitimately elected hurt the feelings of his opponents and their supporters, that is just too bad.
Sorry, Ragnar, Your “facts” are not facts to me (and vice-versa, no doubt).When facts are not agreed on, it bodes badly on our political process. That is sad.
Arlen Grossman, if someone tried to argue that the Earth is flat and held that view as being factual, that would be considered delusional thinking in the eyes of many people. Facts do not have to be agreed on in order to be verifiable as facts.
Arlen Grossman, if insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over with the expectation of a different result each time, all of the people who decried the end result of the election of George W. Bush as him having stolen the election would be considered as being insane according to that logic. Why is it so hard for people to accept the fact that the election of George W. Bush was perfectly legitimate? The people who refused to accept the legitimacy of George W. Bush being elected were just being sore losers.
Arlen Grossman, unless and util any hard evidence is presented to validate the talking point about stolen elections, such talk is disingenuous. The only way the election could have been “stolen” is if it happened as a result of tampering and fraudulent voting.
You are being naive, Ragnar. Read this: https://www.gregpalast.com/election-stolen-heres/
Arlen Grossman, you are wrong. Even with this revisionism that is engaged in, Bush won and Gore lost. Case closed.
Not closed for me.
Arlen Grossman, how many recounts should have been called for-10? 20? 30? Regardless of the number, the end result would have been the same, so it qualifies as nothing more than being a pissing contest among people who decided to act like sore losers due to them not getting their way. These people who behave in such manners are being childish and immature.
Arlen Grossman, after multiple recounts in 2000, George W. Bush still got elected. 2 recounts, 3 news outlets and the U.S. Supreme Court verified it. Case closed. Don’t like that? This may sound harsh, however, that is just too bad.
The Gore side has much the same arguments, Ragnar. Studies were done that insist that Gore won. As for the Supreme Court, five Republican nominees voted for Bush, and four Democratic nominees voted for Gore. Not very objective.
Arlen Grossman, Al Gore got the popular vote and George W. Bush got the Electoral College votes. If we did not have the Electoral College, any political candidate could run and win an elected office position. The problem with the popular vote is that states with the greater populations would have more say-so in how elections go. It would be ideal if popular vote referred to the opinion polls and not the number of votes alone, however, it does not work out that way.
Ragnar, the American people should decide the president, not a select group of special people. One person, one vote is the only way to choose a president. No American’s vote should be worth more than any other. Period.
Arlen Grossman, if we only had the popular vote in place, the states with the bigger populations would have more influence than smaller population states in Presidential elections. Popular vote does not refer to popularity in terms of opinion polls, just the highest population states.
Arlen Grossman, we have the Electoral College in place for a reason. When the legitimacy of the election George W. Bush was called into question, 2 recounts, 3 news outlets, as well as the U.S. Supreme Court verified the end result. So people who decry the result as the election having been stolen are dealing in delusional thinking.
The Supreme Court anointed George W. Bush as president. You know, the Supreme Court will five Republican judges, all of whom cast their vote for Bush. I don’t see that in the Constitution. The other stuff is debatable.
Arlen Grossman, you don’t have to like the verdict, however, the facts are what they are, period. No cherry-picking of the various details will ever change that.
Yes, Ragnar, the facts are what they are, period. Thom Hartmann and others lay them out, but you choose to ignore them.
Arlen Grossman, 2 recounts, 3 news outlets and the U.S. Supreme Court all concluded that George W. Bush was legitimately elected. If some people don’t like it, that is just too bad.
Arlen Grossman, unless it can be proven that an election was stolen, this stolen election talking point used by those on the Left is dishonest. When the 2000 election results were contested, resulting in multiple recounts, the end result was still the same. What was the end result? George W. Bush being elected. The man was not the best president we could have had. I will concede this point. However, people who say that he stole the election are idiots, delusional or just don’t like the fact that he won fair and square.
As to who really won the 2000 election, I think that depends on who you want to believe.
There is a strong case to be made that Gore really won (think of who was secretary of state and governor of Florida at that time), but I’m sure conservatives also have what they think is a strong case.
Arlen Grossman, if for some reason Al Gore got both the popular vote and the Electoral College, he would have been elected President. Multiple recounts were called during the election, with multiple people challenging its legitimacy, with the end result being the same.
Conservatives will say what you say. This is from the Thom Hartmann column above: “And more than a year after the election – a consortium of newspapers including The Washington Post, The New York Times, and USA Today did their own recount in Florida – manually counting every vote in a process that took almost a year – and concluded that Al Gore did indeed win the presidency in 2000.”
As I said, we choose who we want to believe.
Arlen Grossman, does that include willfully believing in lies?
What you call delusional, Jeffrey, I call facts. No wonder we rarely agree.
Arlen Grossman, those on the Left cherry pick as to what facts they will use to suit their arguments. Otherwise, they live in a world full of sunshine and lollipops.
I suppose conservatives don’t cherry-pick, Jeffrey? Otherwise, they live in a world of hate, paranoia and fear.
Arlen Grossman, I know that Leftist political types don’t give a damn about facts. Some years back, I got into an argument with a guy who claimed that George W. Bush stole the 2000 election, maybe the 2004 election, as well. When I told the guy in question that according to all legal precedence George W. Bush was elected fairly, he said that this was not the case. How clueless do people have to be in order to not see that the Electoral College is ultimately the determining factor as to who gets elected to the Presidency? If we had the popular vote only, these low population states would have to bow to what the high population states decide.
Jeffrey, lately you’ve been throwing around blanket, unfair statements about liberals/leftists.We don’t give a damn about facts? Then how is it that President Trump lies and contradicts facts several times a day? (The Washington Post has his total at well over 4000 so far.) Yet Republicans are totally aboard for Trump! And what about your guy Alex Jones and facts?
As for the electoral college vs popular vote, what’s wrong with “one man, one vote”? It seems to me everyone’s vote should count equally if you believe in democracy!
Arlen Grossman, someone described democracy as 2 wolves and a lamb deciding what is for dinner. Pure democracies sound good in theory, however, they do not work in practice.
Still, Jeffrey, democracy is worth striving for, even if not practical in some instances. One man, one vote and equality of rights are worthwhile goals.
Arlen Grossman, we are a Constitutional Republic, not an absolute democracy.
Arlen Grossman, I call bullshit on this. This stolen elections talking point is based on delusional thinking.