It was May of 2017. Donald Trump had recently fired James Comey, the director of the F.B.I., because Comey had refused to swear unconditional loyalty to him or to defend his disgraced national-security adviser, Michael Flynn (who would plead guilty later that year to lying to the F.B.I. about his contacts with the former Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak). The news had just broken that Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, had met with Kislyak to establish a secret back channel with the Kremlin. (Kushner denied it, then later admitted it, but insisted he had “no improper contacts.”)
On MSNBC, a woman of a certain age appeared, blonde, direct, and quite good-looking, wearing a statement brooch and speaking in a pronounced Great Lakes accent that reflected her Chicago roots. “It is an accumulation of evidence that could end up being the smoking gun that the June 23 tape was in Watergate,” she said firmly. The chyron beneath her flashed: “Jill Wine-Banks, Former Assistant Watergate Special Prosecutor.” “That’s Jill Wine!,” I exclaimed. It was an exclamation I had heard once before more than 40 years earlier, during the Watergate crisis, when I was 6.