One of the Marxes - it might be Karl, but it's probably Groucho - once quipped that history repeats, first as tragedy and then as farce.
The tragedy was Richard Nixon, a smart ambitious but spiritually broken man who rose to the height of political power but threw it all away in a self-destructive cycle of paranoia and failure.
The farce, if you've probably figured out by now, is donald trump, not as smart and without any soul at all but still ambitious and greedy in a gaslighting con artist way.
Part of the comparison comes from the fact that these are two men who faced political adversity and responded in different ways. In Nixon's case, he resigned in the face of a likely impeachment and fall from grace as a means of retaining some dignity on which he could build a reputation for statesman at least within his own party's ranks.
In trump's case, he faced political adversity by doubling down on the gaslighting lies, stirring up violent insurrection, and speeding out of town with boxes of illegally-kept official records refusing to admit he was ever the loser he truly was.
trump's farce is under examination because it came out this week after forced to reveal the official White House telephone logs on the day - January 6 2021 - that trump riled a mob into violent acts, there is a gap of seven-plus hours in those logs during the hours of the rioting.
As David Frum at the Atlantic notes (paywalled):
We know the president spoke by phone during that gap. As the crowd came crashing toward the office of the Republican House leader Kevin McCarthy, McCarthy called the president to demand he stop the violence. Trump instead excused it. “Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.” Witnesses reported seeing the president on the phone many other times during the day.
As president, Trump often avoided using official lines. He used multiple phones of his own. He borrowed phones from other people...
Trump’s phone choices were powerfully intentional. What was he intending on January 6? The answer is obvious: concealment. But concealment of what?
Trump’s actions that day were not secret. They all happened in full public view. He incited a crowd to attack Congress in order to overturn by violence his election defeat. He refused to act to protect Congress and the Constitution when the attack began, and for a long time afterward...
Trump encouraged the violence and welcomed it in real time. The whole world saw that.
But the world does not know everything about January 6—not yet, anyway—and Trump’s phone behavior may suggest the answer to the most important remaining questions:
1. Did Trump in any way authorize the attack in advance?
2. Did Trump in any way communicate or coordinate with the attackers as the attack unfolded?...
Frum doesn't speculate on it but his second point - that trump spoke at least once to his war room people coordinating the riot from the Willard Hotel - is probably the big reason why trump edited/burned/flushed those seven hours from the official records. Unable to make sure they would keep their stories straight about who called whom and when and then edit judiciously to hide those calls, trump and his handlers probably figured to cut whole pages out of the logs and taunt Congressional and Justice Department investigators with blatant acts of destroying records and committing obstruction.
This seven-hour gap in the phone logs created flashbacks for many of the reporters and historians who covered the Watergate scandal of Nixon's administration. One of the details of that scandal was how, even with the shattering revelation that Nixon recorded many conversations in his Oval Office, there were missing or erased gaps in those conversations that made people suspicious about what potential criminal misdeeds were mentioned. The infamous 18-and-a-half-minute gap was in truth a set of different gaps of various minutes, but all added together into one memetic concept of an accusatory self-own.
(Arlo Guthrie would later joke that the length of the 18-and-a-half-minute gap fit the same time as his epic "Alice's Restaurant" ballad, as though Nixon was rolling up a joint and enjoy the hell out of Guthrie's shaggy dog story)
Others are noticing the similarities, and the criminal overtones of both (via Alex Shepherd at New Republic (also paywalled)):
It’s longer—by nearly three hours—than the Grateful Dead’s longest concert. Longer by an hour than a flight from New York City to Seattle. It’s only 30 minutes shorter than the longest baseball game played in the modern era—though that game was played over the course of two days. More to the point, it’s more than 20 times longer than the gap in the Watergate tapes that caused a scandal for President Richard Nixon, ultimately leading to his resignation in 1974...
For Democrats, the gap is also an opportunity to return the focus onto Trump’s own role in the attempted coup, as well as the Republican Party’s extensive efforts to protect him from facing accountability. For months, even amid a series of damaging revelations, most of the attention has focused on Trump’s efforts to prevent congressional investigators from accessing records relating to his activities on January 6. Slowly but with increasing surety, Trump has become a larger focus of the January 6 committee’s efforts. The way this lengthy gap in the official record recalls the Watergate scandal is advantageous to those seeking accountability: It provides an accessible and familiar reference point both to make their case and to underscore its seriousness in ways that people who haven’t been following the story closely might more easily understand...
I can personally recall how the Republicans during the tenure of both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama would run around screaming "Worse than Watergate" every time a perceived scandal would crop up to justify a retaliation against Democrats for the shame the fall of Richard Nixon inflicted on the GOP's reputation. In Clinton's case, it led to a prolonged investigation into Whitewater and Foster's suicide that all culminated in an honestly minor scandal of blowjobs, and in Obama's case setback after setback of Republicans jumping on incidents - even a tragedy like Benghazi - that refused to blow up to the level of a Watergate.
And now here we are again - with a Republican Party left holding the bag of a trumpian administration so mismanaged and scandal-plagued that trump holds the dishonor of being the only man impeached twice - with a reminder of how both Nixon and trump played loose with the facts, fought against any form of accountability, and destroyed records that for all we know hid deeper scandals.
Nixon paid the price for his obstruction with resignation and shame.
trump is incapable of shame and will never yield or resign from the destructive course he's set himself upon. In his case, criminal charges are the only way to hold him accountable for the lives he's ruined and the laws he's broken.