What is it about?

Contrary to stated policies and federal law, the Reagan administration covertly supplied arms to Iran and gave financial aid to the Nicaraguan Contras, a right-wing group committed to the overthrow of the Sandinista government. The multiple investigations into the scandal ultimately did not recommend impeachment and officials such as Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger and National Security staff including Oliver North also eventually escaped prison due to presidential pardons and immunity claims. In the aftermath of President Trump's two impeachments. this article both explains why Reagan was different and how his experience lead ultimately to an increase in partisanship that crucially reshaped the Republican Party, and thus laid a basis for Trump's presidency.

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Why is it important?

Ronald Reagan has become a key icon of modern Republicanism. This article suggests that despite differences in style, there are similarities in terms of attitude between the Reagan and Trump administrations. It also explores the role of media in mobilising popular conservative support and helps to explain why the use of impeachment became more likely paradoxically because Reagan was not impeached.


The article grows out of a larger study on presidential scandals since Watergate that argues that the scandalous nature of the Trump presidency is not principally the result of Trump himself but of deeper problems within US politics.

Emeritus Professor Peter John Ling
University of Nottingham

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This page is a summary of: Why Reagan was not impeached, European Journal of American Culture, September 2021, Intellect,
DOI: 10.1386/ejac_00053_1.
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