Impeachment of Nixon
Richard Nixon was only the second American president at the time to be put up for Impeachment. It takes a lot of evidence pointing to the fact that the president is guilty before Congress will even consider Impeachment. The following is going to attempt to enlighten you in the reasoning behind Congress going through Impeachment with Nixon and the results.
The Watergate break-in occurred on June 17, 1972. Eight months later, in February of 1973 the Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities was launched by the Senate. The objective of the committee was to look into the events about Watergate. They also examined other charges of political spying and sabotage on behalf of Nixon's re-election campaign.
The Committee was successful in finding results in the first few months of their investigation. In March, one of the burglars, James W. McCord came forward to U.S. District Court Judge John J. Sirica and said that he was being coerced to remain silent. Less than a month later it is revealed that some Watergate evidence had been destroyed by FBI Director L. Patrick Gray because he was being pressured by Nixon aides. The resignations didn't stop there. Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman, Domestic Affairs Assistant John Ehrilichman, Attorney General Richard Kleindienst and Presidential Counsel John Dean, all of whom were some of Nixon's top administrators resigned.
One of the major differences between Nixon's investigation and Andrew Johnson's investigation before his impeachment was the use of media in Nixon's. Reporters were eating this story up and it was the front story in newspapers and on news shows. Television played a major roll in Nixon's investigation and hearings because America found out very quickly. Many students watched the investigation unravel in history classes.
On May 17, 1973 the committee started to televise the hearings. Some of the most damaging accusations against Nixon came out within the next two months. John Dean stated under oath that Nixon was involved in the "hush money" payment to those involved in the Watergate break-in, and that there was an current White House cover-up going on. It is during this time that it is discovered that Nixon had put hidden microphones in the Oval Office in the spring of 1971 and since then a majority of the conversations had been recorded on audio tapes.
October 20th turns out to be the beginning of the end for Nixon's presidency. It is during this "Saturday Night Massacre" that Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William D. Ruckelshaus resign after refusing to follow an order from Nixon to fire Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox. The major impact of this night is the fact that it was being broadcasted live by reporters on network television. America was appalled and this led to calls for impeachment.
Nixon finally agrees to turn over some of the White House audio tapes. However, two are missing and there was an 18 minute gap in one of the tapes during a critical moment. It is assumed by the public that it is all part of a huge cover-up. Nixon is eventually forced by the Supreme Court to turn over all the tapes.
Formal impeachment inquiry begins on February 6, 1974 with a 410-4 vote by the House. A little over four months later on July 27 the first articles of impeachment against Nixon, charging him with obstruction of justice, were put in motion by the Committee. Two days later the second article, abuse of power, is passed, followed by the third article, defying House subpoenas.
Click on the following link to see the Article of Impeachment against Nixon
August 5, 1974 turns out to be one of the worst days in Nixon's presidential career. The audio tapes that provided the "smoking gun" were found. They proved that Nixon was very involved in the cover-up. It also confirmed that Nixon had ordered Haldeman to stop the FBI investigation less than a week after the Watergate break-in.
Nixon lost all support from Congress following the finding of the tapes. On Friday, August 9, Nixon became the first President in U.S. history to ever resign. By resigning Nixon avoided a most certain loss in the impeachment process. Vice President Gerald R. Ford succeeded him. About a month later Ford granted Nixon a "full, free and absolute pardon...for all offenses against the United States which he...has committed or may have committed or taken part in while President."