1974 July 27

President Richard Nixon Impeached by House


The U.S. House of Representatives on this day adopted Articles of Impeachment of President Richard Nixon for abuses of power related to the Watergate Scandal and other abuses of power. The Watergate Scandal began on June 17, 1972, when White House operatives were caught burglarizing the Democratic Party headquarters in the Watergate hotel and office complex. The Supreme Court, in United States v. Nixon on July 24, 1974, had rejected Nixon’s claims of executive privilege and ordered him to turn over to the Watergate Special Prosecutor a group of White House tape recordings related to the case. Some of the tapes, especially the famous “smoking gun” tape of June 23, 1972, confirmed that Nixon had in fact obstructed justice. The tapes quickly led to Nixon’s resignation as President on August 9, 1974, before the Senate could vote on whether to convict him and remove him from office.

The Watergate burglary touched off a national scandal that gripped the nation for 15 months from the day of the original Watergate burglary to President Richard Nixon’s resignation. The burglary set in motions investigations that uncovered other abuses of power by President Nixon and several members of his administration. These included the famous “enemies” list of critics of the administration who were targeted for retaliation (August 16, 1971), and the White House “Plumbers” unit that burglarized the office of Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist on September 9, 1971. Nixon was impeached by the House of Representatives on this day, and he resigned in disgrace on August 9, 1974. President Gerald Ford pardoned Nixon on September 8, 1974, for any crimes he may have committed while president.

Excerpt from Article I: “On June 17, 1972, and prior thereto, agents of the Committee for the Re-election of the President committed unlawful entry of the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee in Washington, District of Columbia, for the purpose of securing political intelligence. Subsequent thereto, Richard M. Nixon, using the powers of his high office, engaged personally and through his close subordinates and agents, in a course of conduct or plan designed to delay, impede, and obstruct the investigation of such illegal entry; to cover up, conceal and protect those responsible; and to conceal the existence and scope of other unlawful covert activities.”

Read the complete Articles of Impeachment:

Read: Stanley Kutler, The Wars of Watergate: The Last Crisis of Richard Nixon (1990)

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