The New York Times is running an Op-Ed by Richard Painter, the chief White House ethics lawyer from 2005-2007 (under Bush 43). Painter points out that Nixon’s attorney general was forced to resign over misleading testimony, lying to Congress during his confirmation hearings.
Here’s the money quote:
In 1972 Richard G. Kleindienst, the acting attorney general, appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee in a confirmation hearing on his nomination by President Richard Nixon to be attorney general. He was to replace Attorney General John N. Mitchell, who had resigned in disgrace and would later be sent to prison in the Watergate scandal.
Several Democratic senators were concerned about rumors of White House interference in a Justice Department antitrust suit against International Telephone and Telegraph Corporation, a campaign contributor to the Republican National Committee. They asked Kleindienst several times if he had ever spoken with anyone at the White House about the I.T.T. case. He said he had not.
That wasn’t true. Later, after Kleindienst was confirmed as attorney general, the special prosecutor, Leon Jaworski, and his team uncovered an Oval Office tape recording of a phone call in which Nixon told Kleindiesnt to drop the I.T.T. case. Kleindienst claimed that he thought the senators’ questions were limited to a particular period, not the entire time during which the case was pending. — NY Times
The special prosecutor filed criminal charges against Kleindienst who eventually resigned and plead guilty to “failure to provide accurate information to Congress”, which is a misdemeanor.
So there is a pretty clear precedent.
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