Few, if any, of the current crop of pro-Donald Trump boot lickers in the Republican caucus in the House of Representatives likely remember one of their predecessors, Representative Charles Sandman of New Jersey. Mr. Sandman remains largely a footnote in the history books for being one of Richard Nixon’s few defenders on the House Judiciary Committee.
Sandman insisted that Nixon, even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, was the victim of a partisan assault by Democrats. Sandman was not alone. He was supported by two other Republicans on the Judiciary Committee, Charles Wiggins of California and David Dennis of Indiana.
Today, Trump has his own three defenders in the House—Jim Jordan of Ohio, Matt Gaetz of Florida, and Louis Gohmert of Texas. Although Sandman, Wiggins, and Dennis seem like statesmen compared to the weird and wacko Jordan, Gaetz, and Gohmert, the three defenders of Nixon are long since forgotten, even as Nixon’s perfidy in the Oval Office lives on.
One day, as historians compare the crimes of Nixon and Trump—with Nixon coming out as being much less destructive to the country than Trump—Jordan, Gaetz, and Gohmert will join their president in the unhallowed halls of corrupt and dishonest politicos.
In the end, Jordan, Gaetz, and Gohmert will never hold a flame to Charlie Sandman, who spent seven months as a prisoner of the Germans after his plane was shot down over Europe during World War II. Sandman provided political support for Nixon during the committee’s impeachment hearings. As five articles of impeachment were being debated, Sandman said, ”My role is not one of defending the President—that’s for sure . . . I believe in a strict construction of the Constitution. If somebody, for the first time in seven months, gives me something that is direct, I will vote to impeach.”
On August 5, 1974, Nixon released secret tapes that did provide evidence that Nixon ordered the investigation of the 1972 break-in of Democratic National Committee headquarters stymied as part of a wider criminal activities by his administration.
Sandman was a man of his word. He did not continue to support Nixon. Sandman said he would cast his vote for impeachment in the vote in the full House, joining an overwhelming number of other Republicans, including Wiggins. Even Dennis, a total Nixon supporter, said he was reassessing support for the president in the impending vote on the House floor. That vote would never occur because Nixon resigned from office on August 9, 1974.
Sandman, a four-term congressman, suffered from the political fallout of Watergate and was defeated by a Democrat in the November 1974 mid-term election. Wiggins and Dennis were also tossed out of office in a post-Watergate Democratic wave. Rather than support Ronald Reagan’s 1976 right-wing insurgency against incumbent president Gerald Ford, Sandman stuck by Ford, his former House Minority Leader. Sandman helped to deliver 65 of New Jersey’s 67 delegates to Ford during the 1976 GOP national convention in Kansas City. Sandman did not care for some of the secretive aspects of the Ford administration and he let Ford know, in no uncertain terms, that he rejected the “gate keeping” employed by his “Palace Guard” of chief of staff Donald Rumsfeld and his deputy, Dick Cheney.
In the aftermath of his defeat, Charlie Sandman did not go around claiming that Nixon was the victim of some far-out conspiracy engineered by real or imagined enemies. The son of a milk-truck driver in Philadelphia and a Golden Glove boxer, Sandman had more honor, decency, and good sense than to support a self-incriminated liar in the Oval Office.
The same cannot be said of the current crop of Republicans in the Senate and House. Trump’s “Three Stooges” of Jordan, Gaetz, and Gohmert, far from being known for their heroism in battle or understanding of the Constitution, are better known for covering up a sex scandal involving male students at Ohio State (Jordan), a sex scandal involving a dead college roommate at Florida State (Gaetz), and practicing law and congressional policy-making without a brain (Gohmert). For them, the “Sandman”—in terms of a crushing electoral romp—doth cometh.
Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.
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Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and nationally-distributed columnist. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required).