When a congressman risks a break with his president: Gov Larry Hogan on the lessons of Watergate

Larry Hogan carries a family legacy of political fortitude

CNBC's John Harwood sat down with Larry Hogan, the Republican governor of Maryland, to talk about politics. Both of them have personal histories with the defining moment in American politics — Watergate. Here's how the scandal impacted Hogan.

John Harwood: You and I are the same age.

Larry Hogan: How come you look so much better?

John Harwood: The summer of '74 when Watergate was reaching a crescendo, we had graduated from high school, I was following Watergate developments very closely. My dad was senior editor of The Washington Post involved in the story. You were involved for a different and more intimate reason. What do you remember about that time for your dad?

Larry Hogan: I remember it really well, and I talk about it really often because I have such respect for my father. He had an amazing influence on my life. But he had a really big role in that impeachment proceeding as a member of the House Judiciary Committee. He was the very first Republican to come out for the president's impeachment, and was the only Republican in the entire Congress to vote for all three articles of impeachment.

I remember it well, number one, because it was a huge national and international story at that time. Number two, because I know talking with my dad, even though I was a kid, just graduated from high school, I know what a difficult time it was for him to go through that decision because he had supported the president, he was a Republican. He was an FBI agent and a Georgetown trained lawyer who after seeing all the evidence came to the conclusion that he had been involved in the cover up, and that he felt that he was guilty of impeachable offenses. It was a difficult decision for my dad, I'll tell you.

John Harwood: Were you in Washington when he gave that speech?

Larry Hogan: I wasn't, but I watched the tapes of the whole thing. And I have watched it fairly recently. It's been on a couple of television shows actually. It's an incredible-

John Harwood: I watched it last night. It was pretty powerful.

Larry Hogan: My dad was sort of an emotional guy. He felt very strongly about it. You could tell if you watched that tape. He was nearly in tears and he was pounding his fist on that committee table, and he said, "But my president didn't do that. He's covered it up, and he was guilty."

It was very traumatic thing for him to do to go against the president that he had supported, and it was against his party because what he thought was the right thing for the nation.

John Harwood: He paid a price for it.

Larry Hogan: He paid a price. And he knew he was going to. He said this is going to cost me friends and supporters and probably my political career, and frankly the party was mad, his colleagues in Congress were mad, the White House was furious. And at the time many Republicans saw him as, "Why are you going against our president?" Now decades later, he has a special place in history, and a lot of people, even the ones at the time who might have been upset with him, think he did the right thing.