Lessons from the Iran-Contra Scandal

The years-long investigation into the illegal trade of arms for hostages offers a cautionary tale for those hoping Trump is forced from office.
President Donald Trump walks back to the Oval Office after making a statement on The Paris Climate Change Accord in the Rose Garden of the White House, on June 1, 2017 in Washington, DC.
06_16_IranContra_02 Source: Olivier Douliery/Abaca/Sipa/AP

It all sounds so familiar.

A celebrity turned Republican presidential candidate wins over the white working class with promises to restore American greatness, only to become ensnared in a scandal involving dubious dealings with a hostile regime. As the press digs in, the White House appears flustered, and the Justice Department appoints an independent counsel to investigate the president, as well as trusted members of his National Security Council and former campaign staff.

Are you thinking Donald Trump? Well, yes. But also Ronald Reagan. Three decades ago, the Gipper was embroiled in a major investigation, now known as the Iran-Contra affair. The thrust of the scandal: a bizarre scheme that involved the U.S. selling weapons to Tehran—a state sponsor of terrorism, according to Washington—and using the proceeds to covertly (and illegally) fund Contra rebels in Nicaragua.

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