2024 isn’t even here yet, and yet the presidential race is shaping up to be the "Battle of the Presidential scandals."
There are the largely manufactured scandals of former President Donald Trump, as evidenced by four indictments. They include two federal, one in Florida and a second in the District of Columbia, and two state indictments, one from New York and the latest from Georgia.
Then there are the not-so-manufactured alleged scandals of influence-peddling by President Joe Bide, as evidenced by, among other things, emails, text messages, bank records, and the testimony of two former Hunter Biden business associates.
Given current events, this seems as good a time as any to review some of the most interesting presidential scandals in U.S. history, listen in chronological order.
1. Thomas Jefferson, the Sally Hemings affair (1802):
Our third president began the tradition of presidential sex scandals. There were whisperings that Thomas Jefferson had carried on an affair and even fathered children with Sally Hemings, one of the slaves at Monticello.
This reportedly occurred after Jefferson became a widower. In addition to being a slave, Hemings was his sister-in-law, who, records indicate, had given birth to six children.
He denied the rumors. However, DNA tests conducted in 1998 confirmed that he was the father of at least one of the Hemings children.
Jefferson's biographer Joseph J. Ellis remarked, "The alleged liaison between Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings may be described as the longest-running miniseries in American history."
2. Marital Mess, Andrew Jackson (1828)
Andrew Jackson married a woman named Rachel Donelson in 1791. It was bad enough that she was a divorcee, but it turned out that at the time of her marriage to Jackson, she wasn’t divorced at all. She only believed she was.
Upon her subsequent marriage to Jackson, Rachel’s first husband charged her with adultery. Jackson would have to wait an additional three years to legally marry Rachel.
Although the incident happened over 30 years prior to his 1828 presidential run, it was nonetheless used by Jackson’s political opponents. Rachel died two months before he took office, and he blamed the personal attacks for her death.
3. The Eaton Affair, Andrew Jackson (1830–1831)
Here’s another Andrew Jackson marital scandal, one often referred to as the “Petticoat Affair.”
The president’s friend and secretary of war John Henry Eaton married Margaret "Peggy" O’Neill, the daughter of the owner of a Washington, D.C. boardinghouse and tavern popular with politicians and military officials. But she became controversial because of her reputation for promiscuity. The fallout led Jackson to dissolve his cabinet.
Explained Joanne B. Freeman, Professor of History and American Studies at Yale University, "the scandal split the Jackson administration into two camps: Jackson and Secretary of State Martin Van Buren supported the Eatons, while much of Jackson’s cabinet decidedly didn’t — and their wives snubbed Margaret."
4. Credit Mobilier, Ulysses S. Grant (1868)
The Credit Mobilier Company was stealing funds from the Union Pacific Railroad by manipulating contracts. The company attempted to cover it all up by selling stock in Credit Mobilier at a huge discount to government officials.
The buyers included members of Congress and Grant’s vice president, Schuyler Colfax. When this was discovered, it hurt many reputations including that of Ulysses S. Grant.
5. ‘Ma, Ma, Where's My Pa?’, Grover Cleveland (1884)
Grover Cleveland had an affair with a widow named Maria C. Halpin, who subsequently gave birth to a son. Years later, during Cleveland’s presidential run, she claimed that Cleveland was the father and named the boy Oscar Folsom Cleveland.
Cleveland didn’t deny the relationship and agreed to pay child support and then covered the cost of putting the child in an orphanage when Halpin could no longer raise him. During his 1884 campaign his opponents would chant, "Ma, Ma, where's my Pa? Gone to the White House, ha, ha, ha!"
However, voters recognized that Cleveland was honest about the affair. Although it was a scandal his honesty helped him win the election.
6. Teapot Dome, Warren G. Harding (1922)
1922 was not a fun year for Warren G. Harding’s administration. His Department of Interior Secretary Albert Fall assumed control of the oil reserves located on federal land in Wyoming, known as Teapot Dome.
But Fall accepted bribes rather than asking for bids from private oil companies for the right to develop the reserves. Those bribes included gifts and no-interest loans for rights to the leases. Falk was found guilty and sentenced to prison for his involvement in the scheme.
7. The Marilyn Monroe Affair, John F. Kennedy (1961-1963)
Behind the scenes of what was dubbed "Camelot," which included a beautiful family and elegant first lady, was JFK’s messy and complicated personal life.
Kennedy’s special assistant Dave Powers provided young women, especially blondes, to sleep with the youthful president. They ranged from lowly interns all the way up to Hollywood blonde bombshell Marilyn Monroe.
Recalled one Secret Service agent who described his job under the Kennedy administration, "Everybody thought you were risking your life, and you were actually out there to see that he’s not disturbed while he’s having an interlude in the shower with two gals from Twelfth Avenue."
8. Watergate, Richard Nixon (1972-1974)
During Nixon’s 1972 reelection campaign, five men were caught breaking into the Democratic National Headquarters located at the Watergate Hotel complex in Washington, D.C.
Although Nixon and his advisers knew nothing of any plans prior to the break-in, they subsequently worked to cover the burglary up. But it soon caught up with and overwhelmed the president. Rather than face impeachment, Nixon resigned on Aug. 9, 1974.
The adage, "it’s not the crime but the cover-up that gets you in trouble" comes from the Watergate scandal.
9. Iran-Contra, Ronald Reagan (1985-1987)
Members of Ronald Reagan's administration were implicated in the Iran-Contra scandal, where money received from arms sales to Iran was secretly delivered to the Contras in Nicaragua. They were seeking to overthrow the socialist regime there and establish a democratic government.
The hope was also that by selling the weapons to Iran, terrorists would be more willing to give up American hostages, and the scandal prompted several Congressional hearings.
Fourteen people were charged in this case, five were eventually pardoned.
10. Monica Lewinsky Affair, Bill Clinton (1995-1998)
Bill Clinton was implicated in several sex scandals, the most significant of which was the Monica Lewinsky affair. Lewinsky was a White House intern with whom Clinton had an intimate relationship, what he termed an "improper physical relationship."
He categorically denied the affair during a television appearance.
Clinton also denied it under oath during his deposition in an unrelated matter, which resulted in a vote to impeach him by the House of Representatives in 1998.
Although the Senate failed to remove him from office, the event tarnished his presidency, as the second president to be impeached after Andrew Johnson.
Michael Dorstewitz is a retired lawyer and has been a frequent contributor to Newsmax. He is also a former U.S. Merchant Marine officer and an enthusiastic Second Amendment supporter. Read Michael Dorstewitz's Reports — More Here.
© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.