Mormon apostle at Oxford: Lessons learned from Watergate scandal

Return To Article
Add a comment
  • grimalkin Sandy, Utah
    Aug. 8, 2017 9:30 p.m.

    When Nixon died I watched a lot of the news coverage between then and his funeral. One time they were interviewing a former White House reporter who had been one of the primary accusers of Nixon, but now he was talking very favorably of the former president. When he was asked how he felt now about what Nixon did during Watergate, he said that after covering several other presidents since he had changed his mind and felt that Nixon didn't do things any different than any other president had. Meaning I guess, that they all have times they end up doing something murky.

  • KevinSim Springville, UT
    June 20, 2017 1:34 p.m.

    Vincent Mrykalo posted:

    =Here are the figures of last year's election:
    =Trump 45%
    =McMullin (3rd Party) 21%
    =Clinton 27%.

    I'm relieved to see that a majority of LDS voters voted for somebody other than Donald Trump.

    =I am a good LDS member and I did and still do support President Trump.
    =Compared to what the previous president did, Watergate pales in comparison.

    Obama was really all that bad a president? His signature accomplishment was the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare). Republicans are completed united that it should be repealed, but thank goodness that recently they've realized that it would be political suicide to repeal it without replacing it with legislation that keeps a lot of people insured, and they can't decide among themselves what the best way is to replace it. All that means that ObamaCare remains the law of the land, and has me wondering why it's such a bad law, since a Republican majority in both houses of Congress is having such a hard time getting rid of it.

  • mominthetrenches South Jordan, UT
    June 20, 2017 10:44 a.m.

    @cougarstrong Totally agree with your post.

    This is a very interesting article. I am taking this at face value, and can see that Elder Christofferson is well respected as a speaker in the world of law and acadamia. Who wouldn't want him to come and speak about one of the most controversial scandals in recent American history? I was a child in the 70's, and like many posters, I never learned or discussed it. My mom, who is 81 and still loves Pres. Nixon, was disappointed in him being dishonest, but felt like his actions were not exclusive to just him as our President...he was just the POTUS who happened to get caught.
    BTW, for all of you who are defending/criticizing your guy, please...we all can vote, and the LDS Church does NOT advise their membership on WHO to vote for because both parties have great qualities. It is NOT the end of the world just yet, and last time I checked, all Temple recommends have remained in tact by those of both parties...Seriously, people, let's be nice.

  • Larry Lawton Star Valley, WY
    June 18, 2017 3:45 p.m.

    Elder Christofferson was at Duke Law School at the same time I was, and even among a fairly exceptional student body, he really stood out. I enjoy what he says and writes, including this. Like many attorneys today, I too am worried about the politicalization of the judiciary. In all too many important cases (those involving the direction of our country), you can tell how a judge will vote if you know who appointed him. As my brother-in-law wisely says, "It isn't right, but it's true."

  • KevinSim Springville, UT
    June 18, 2017 9:24 a.m.

    BobThom posted:

    =Many of us are dismayed by the fact that out of 350 million people you couldn't
    =find an honest man or woman.

    There WAS an honest man who ran in 2016. His name was John Kasich. Of the people looking for an honest moderate, not enough voted in the primaries, and so we were stuck deciding between Clinton and Trump. This problem seems to happen every four years.

  • Hope & Faith give us strength Utah County, UT
    June 17, 2017 11:27 a.m.

    Tired of an amoral left, the answer was to set morals aside and play dirty. A media-established business icon who'd do whatever he wants to get his way cause he likes America. We'll finally be safe now! What could possibly go wrong? It's no wonder America wouldn't trust Romney. We weren't being honest with ourselves in the first place. We live under a curtain of entertainment.

    Obama had a secular, lgbt, socialist healthcare agenda which was painted as genuine and loving, like a parent who gives a kid whatever the kid wants. He gave us easy answers, so he could do no wrong. Trump was a calculated path to a successor that will have even more savior-king status than Obama had post-Bush.

    Obergefell + this last election process = my focus away from media and toward emergency preparedness. I'm focusing on trying to be better for God, better to my family, and better to my neighbors. I'm not saying I'm doing the best job at it. I'm just highlighting the refocus. If the court and election haven't been sobering enough, what will be? A depression? A war? Worse?

    What will it take to admit the value in moral integrity?

  • Vincent Mrykalo Lawrence, KS
    June 16, 2017 3:45 p.m.

    I have been lured to go on a tangent. It's true. Most LDS voters did not vote Trump. But in the "three way race", Trump did win. Here are the figures of last year's election:
    Trump 45%
    McMullin (3rd Party) 21%
    Clinton 27%.
    I am a good LDS member and I did and still do support President Trump.
    Compared to what the previous president did, Watergate pales in comparison.
    Compared to what Bill Clinton did, Watergate pales in comparison.

  • petersenjc Springville, UT
    June 16, 2017 3:05 p.m.

    Great story! I'm old enough to remember the Watergate scandal and to be able to compare it to the events in today's political world. Very timely. There should be a conscience test of some kind for potential politicians so we would know who to vote for.

    June 16, 2017 2:03 p.m.

    Of course the current parallels of the Watergate investigation are obvious, but the article probably deliberately avoids mention of possible Q&A sessions over this. Time will tell if the parallels are of equal importance. As for a comment about Obama spying of other campaigns, (America First), again I would be cautious about writing such things based solely on complaints from the current occupant. Rumors and disinformation campaigns are what actually divide us as a nation and as a people. Too many of some political persuasions are too eager to believe the "truth" created from propagandistic lies, ala Joseph Goebbels. As the LDS Church always advises over campaigns, to study the issues and candidates, STUDY being the operative word. Those who actually think for themselves don't often fall into the propaganda trap. But those who let the adversary tell them whar to think could be in trouble, even the "very elect."

    June 16, 2017 1:21 p.m.

    Truth and Conscience are difficult things to grapple with. Even harder is the reality that bad people or people that engage in bad behavior can still accomplish great or important things. Martin Luther King jr was a monumental figure for civil rights but also an unfaithful, promiscuous man. Bill Clinton achieved a lot of success during his presidency but made mistakes in the oval office and perjured himself into impeachment. Joseph Smith engaged in many questionable acts that still have not been addressed or resolved yet has been monumental in establishing the Mormon religion. The point is that morality, honesty and integrity are not mutually exclusive to success, progress, change or greatness. Trump or any other politician or church lead for that matter can be dishonest, unfaithful, inappropriate and still accomplish great things. Religious folks often don't see the world this way but there is ample evidence that this is our reality.

  • Hemlock Salt Lake City, UT
    June 16, 2017 12:42 p.m.

    To "Open minded"

    Painting the LDS with a broad political brush is unacceptable stereotyping. Taking every opportunity to insult Mormons is worse. It does not belong in the DN.

  • BobThom Lethbridge, 00
    June 16, 2017 12:22 p.m.

    To open minded mormon.

    Most mormons did not vote for Trump. Most mormons do not live in Utah or even in the USA. Most mormons live outside the USA and many of us wonder the USA could not find 2 individuals better qualified, more honest and better abke to lead your country than the 2 who ran.

    Many of us are dismayed by the fact that out of 350 million people you couldn't find an honest man or woman.

    Many of us are dismayed when an apostle of the Lord speaks about his experiences and the comments go to politics.

    Please don't accuse most mormons of supporting what you got. We don't want the credit or the blame.

  • rsnyder Draper, UT
    June 16, 2017 12:15 p.m.

    Great article describing a wonderful speech. Mostly good comments except for those who want to draw or deny parallels between Tricky Dick and Trumph. Watergate was seminal as the nation watched "all the president's men" come to the mike, including the "creeps" Haldeman, Erlichman, Mitchell, Dean, Colson, Segretti, Caulfield, Liddy and Hunt. Perhaps one day Trump's people will be as well known as these who went down in history for their shenanigans. But until the investigation is complete we cannot and should not pass judgment.

  • 10CC Bountiful, UT
    June 16, 2017 12:06 p.m.

    Great article.

    What I remember most about Watergate was my mother and grandmother arguing about it, with ultimately my pro-Nixon grandmother claiming "Every president does this kind of stuff - Nixon just got caught".

    I think if Watergate were to happen in today's political climate, Nixon would not have been impeached or faced any serious consequences, but would have been vigorously defended as being brave / strong enough to save the nation... I guess from George McGovern.

    Also, Utah was the only state where Nixon had a positive approval rating, after resigning. So, Elder Christofferson may have been vilified by Utahns, had they known the role he played in Nixon's downfall.

  • American First Merced, CA
    June 16, 2017 11:41 a.m.

    The timing of this speech seems irresponsible, especially on foreign soil. I would love to ask Elder Christofferson if he thinks the Obama administration apparently spying on competing campaigns and obstructing justice in the Clinton campaign would rise to or surpass the level of Watergate. Whether it's intentional or not too many LDS are increasingly showing politically 'progressive' tendencies by desperately clinging to political neutrality. At what point will it be the duty of Brothers and Sisters of the Church to identify that Great and Abominable Church of the Devil, marxism, which is destroying this nation and the US Constitution?

  • sister GRASS VALLEY, CA
    June 16, 2017 11:29 a.m.

    I am more weary than expressed at how often I read an uplifting article only to see in comments things descend to gross partisan politics. We are counseled not to judge lest we be judged - I have taken that to mean when we look from the outside we do not know the whole story - a neighbors life, a public official, or anyone. Please be respectful of ALL who read or see!

  • KevinSim Springville, UT
    June 16, 2017 11:12 a.m.

    Jeclar2006 posted:

    =Republicans are to blame for the current Trump Scandal, and they can't claim
    =its because of Trump's impeccable moral standards gone awry.

    Jeclar2006, it's a mistake to place the blame on all Republicans. I have voted predominantly for Republican candidates for the last twenty years, but I could not bring myself to vote for Donald Trump, so I didn't. That doesn't make me not a Republican. I didn't really enjoy voting for Hilary Clinton, but it became abundantly clear that she was by far the better candidate, so I held my nose and voted for her.

    All that said, I'm not sure I'm going to consider myself a Republican forever. If the GOP continues to embrace Trump and his values, I may find myself moving to the Democratic Party, at least temporarily.

  • JkeithC Richland, WA
    June 16, 2017 10:30 a.m.

    Excellent article. I really enjoyed it. I knew as I was reading there would be many comments trying to connect Nixon to Trump. The difference is that we believed in essential honesty and integrity back then. Today so many people are led by the media that they cannot think for themselves. There are no real comparisons with Nixon and his tapes to Trump and anything else. There is no evidence that connects Donald Trump with the Russian collusion or obstruction. But we begin today with a desire to support our opinions and conclusions with little regard for the real evidence.

  • Open Minded Mormon Everett, 00
    June 16, 2017 10:17 a.m.

    Interesting --

    One Mormon Apostle talks about his first hand experience dealing with a corrupt U.S. President caught LYING and obstructing Justice.

    The Salt Lake Tribune reports about another LDS Apostle [Elder Renlund] talks about the dangers of xenophobia, bigotry, and banning religious freedom.

    yet --
    here we have the fact that most Mormons voted for and support a current U.S. President who is being investigated and likely guilty of both!

  • jeclar2006 Oceanside, CA
    June 16, 2017 9:14 a.m.

    Well, from the public view, Nixon had very high moral character, and if such a person can be corrupted, what is that to say about the current sitting President, who, with many examples, demonstrated his will to declare bankruptcy, engage in any amount of litigation to avoid 'paying up', and then eventually paying off to avoid perhaps actual criminal charges of fraud.

    Republicans are to blame for the current Trump Scandal, and they can't claim its because of Trump's impeccable moral standards gone awry.

  • DonO Draper, UT
    June 16, 2017 8:18 a.m.

    It seems that many politicians have learned little since Watergate. It is unfortunate that situational ethics is still alive and well with many who seek (and hold) the public trust.

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    June 16, 2017 7:25 a.m.

    I thought I detected a hopeful note in this article: The idea that somehow, in the end, truth and justice win out.

    We just have to be patient. Justice will win again, but it's going to take some work.

  • 65TossPowerTrap Salmon, ID
    June 16, 2017 7:08 a.m.

    Thank goodness for the wisdom and inspiration of our Founding Fathers for designing a Constitution that discourages autocratic people from being autocrats. Thank goodness they saw the value of a free press and guaranteed it in the First Amendment.

  • christoph Brigham City, UT
    June 15, 2017 10:39 p.m.

    Sadly, many today still worship at the altar of 'watergate': obsessed with corruption, people's weakness and what media says; happened during OJ trial and other sad media obsessed tragedies over the last few decades. Church leader in this article is my favorite (and we probably shouldn't have favorites ), so not speaking to his role, just that 'watergate' is likened to the current president by the media, when there are no parallels. We all probably agree media is a problem, it builds up some presidents and then tears them down. On side note, I've heard Elder Christofferson spoke at the funeral of Judge Sirica in August of 1992, and was super inspirational and astonishingly wonderful in his remarks.

  • samhill Salt Lake City, UT
    June 15, 2017 10:19 p.m.

    If there is one thing that many people have perfected it is the ability to justify almost anything to themselves, regardless of how deplorable it sometimes is.

    This ability is part of something I learned about in a psychology class many years ago called an "ego defense mechanism". It is a Freudian concept and he, among others, have identified quite a few variations of that mechanism. I won't bother to mention them here as comprehensive information about them is easily found on the Internet. The crux of the matter is that people devise many ways of essentially deluding themselves into believing that their beliefs/behavior/values/etc. are justifiable even when, objectively, they often are in direct contradiction with their own ethics.

    I once asked the professor in the class what happens to a person's ability to "defend" their egos after they've been made aware of these self-deceiving tactics. His answer was simply that most people are sufficiently self-deceitful that they merely unconsciously devise ever more elaborate self deceiving mechanisms of justification.

    I've discovered in the many years since, often to my great dismay, that he is absolutely correct.

  • New to Utah Provo, UT
    June 15, 2017 9:35 p.m.

    This is something new that I learned about Elder Christofferson. Who would have guessed that he was a clerk for Judge Sirica. Great article and insights to always do what's right and don't coverup if you make a mistake.

  • toosmartforyou Kaysville, UT
    June 15, 2017 8:32 p.m.

    I, too, wanted to believe that Nixon was a better man, then I got a copy of "The White House Tapes" and was about 2/3rds through it when Nixon resigned. To the end he never admitted he did anything wrong, only saying he was resigning "because he lost his political base." Amazing how one can justify their misbehavior and avoid taking responsibility for their actions. And to this day I know people who say Nixon was "forced out of office" because of politics. I guess people see what they want to see, rather than what really happened. Thank goodness the press at that time was interested in the truth instead of spinning the news to benefit one party over the other like they are today.

  • katamb-midvale Cottonwood Heights, UT
    June 15, 2017 6:26 p.m.

    Excellent writing Tad. I have little memory of Watergate since we never talked about it in school when it was happening.

  • Steve C. Warren WEST VALLEY CITY, UT
    June 15, 2017 5:35 p.m.

    Very good story.

    I liked Judge Sirica a lot. He seemed like an honest, no-nonsense judge who valued facts and truth. In fact, he reminds me a lot of Robert Mueller.

    While I do agree that Nixon was ethically challenged and should have been removed from office if he hadn't resigned first, I remain grateful to him for implementing the 1969 draft lottery that kept me out of the Vietnam War. Thanks again, Mr. President.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    June 15, 2017 4:57 p.m.

    Great article!

    I hope NO good Latter-day Saint still supports Donald Trump!
    more lies,
    even more lies,
    did I mentions lies?,
    now as POTUS - liar and Obstruction of Justice with foreign entities.

    Trump makes even morally bankrupt Richard Nixon look like a Saint!

  • Frank Montoya Jr Providence, UT
    June 15, 2017 4:18 p.m.

    Agreed, Tad, great piece. My favorite paragraph was the following:

    "Watergate proved that small, unresolved mistakes can grow in complexity and difficulty, Elder Christofferson said. "Sometimes the efforts to avoid dealing with it become worse then the original crime or misstep."

    Can't tell you how many times in my 26-year FBI career I saw it happen exactly that way.

  • Holycow Provo, UT
    June 15, 2017 3:44 p.m.

    Interesting timing on this story. It's been how long??! How is it relevant today in particular? cricket cricket cricket.

  • Democrat Provo, UT
    June 15, 2017 3:03 p.m.

    Thank you Mr. Walch. A fine story about two fine men.

    Isn't it an interesting commentary on Judge Sirica and his clerk, Todd Christofferson--that they both started from a perspective of trust, not cynicism and were deeply disappointed when they learned the truth. We seem to live in a world where distrust is often the default for many. We can choose to be different.