From Nixon to Trump: US presidents investigated by FBI

by Anadolu Agency


Former US President Donald Trump on Monday blasted an “unannounced raid” on his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, calling it “prosecutorial misconduct” and “weaponization of the Justice System.”

“Nothing like this has ever happened to a President of the United States before,” said the former president in a statement.

“What is the difference between this and Watergate, where operatives broke into the Democrat National Committee? Here, in reverse, Democrats broke into the home of the 45th President of the United States,” he added, referring to an illegal 1972 burglary, not an official search approved by law enforcement and judicial authorities.

Although this was the first time in history the FBI raided the home of a former US president, Trump is not the first US president (former or serving) to be investigated by the FBI.

Here are other US presidents who faced FBI investigations, but all while they were still in office, not private citizens.

Richard Nixon

With a resignation speech on Aug. 8, 1974, Richard Nixon, the 37th US president, stepped down to avoid removal over the Watergate scandal.

Watergate is often referred to as one of the biggest political scandals in US history.

It broke out on June 17, 1972, when police caught five men breaking into the Democratic National Committee’s offices in the Watergate complex in Washington D.C., an incident described by Nixon’s Press Secretary Ron Ziegler as “a third-rate burglary attempt.”

The Washington Post reported in August that a check for $25,000 earmarked for Nixon’s 1972 campaign made its way into the bank account of one of the men arrested over the break-in.

After several months, reports and investigations were pointing to White House involvement with the break-in.

On Oct. 10, 1972, Washington Post reporters revealed that FBI agents had found connections between Nixon’s aides and the Watergate break-in. It was also revealed that a recording system was installed in the Oval Office, including Nixon’s conversations with White House officials.

The Watergate break-in trial had begun on Jan 8, 1973, and the impeachment proceedings against Nixon started at the House Judiciary Committee on May 9, 1974.

Facing the risk of impeachment, Nixon made a resignation speech, becoming the only US president to resign from office.

Ronald Regan

The administration of Ronald Regan, the 40th president of the US, serving between 1981-1989, faced an investigation over the Iran-Contra scandal involving secret U.S. arms sales to Iran in exchange for the release of Americans held hostage in Lebanon by Hezbollah.

Reagan’s administration reportedly used money from the sales to help rebels trying to overthrow the Nicaraguan government, which Reagan denied having any knowledge of.

The arms sales to Iran met criticism at a time when Iran was subjected to an arms embargo and was a pariah to the US government, in large part due to the 1979 storming of the US Embassy in Tehran and the subsequent holding of 52 Americans hostage.

Several White House officials, including National Security Council member Col. Oliver North, were convicted over the investigation, but no evidence was found of Reagan’s involvement.

Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton, the 42nd US president, and his wife (and future secretary of state and presidential candidate) Hillary Clinton, were investigated over the Whitewater scandal over their real estate investments in the southern US state of Arkansas before either reached the Oval Office in 1993.

Whitewater Development Corporation was the failed business venture of the Clintons along with two business partners, Jim and Susan McDougal.

The Clintons were accused of pressuring an Arkansas banker to provide McDougal with an illegal loan, and also making “fraudulent funds” to use in Clinton’s governor campaign.

Several investigations by US agencies, Congress, and a special prosecutor were launched regarding the allegations. However, the Clintons were cleared of any wrongdoing.

Bill Clinton also faced a sexual harassment case regarding White House intern Monica Lewinsky, which was brought by former Arkansas state employee Paula Jones in 1994. Clinton denied the allegations but was impeached by the US House of Representatives for lying under oath.

In February 1999, the Senate acquitted Clinton of both articles of impeachment, after which he serve out the remainder of his second term.

George W. Bush

George W. Bush, 43rd US president, served in 2001-2009, and some members of his administration faced allegations over leaking the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame to journalist Robert Nova.

Plame and her husband accused Bush of exaggerating evidence to justify going to war in Iraq, a claim that was borne out as the years went by.

Several officials from the Bush administration faced an investigation that lasted 22 months.​​​​​​​

Lewis “Scooter” Libby, former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, was convicted of lying to federal agents. No evidence was found of Bush’s involvement with the Plame affair.

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