1973 October 20

“Saturday Night Massacre”: Watergate Scandal Deepens


As the Watergate scandal involving President Richard Nixon deepened, Watergate Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox subpoenaed a group of White House tape recordings from President Nixon. Nixon refused to turn them over and ordered Attorney General Elliott Richardson to fire Cox. Richardson resigned instead. Nixon then ordered Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus to fire Cox, but he too refused and resigned. Nixon then appointed Solicitor General Robert Bork to be Acting Attorney General, and he fired Cox. The events caused national outrage, was labeled the “Saturday Night Massacre,” and further eroded President Nixon’s public standing. (Bork was nominated for the Supreme Court by President Ronald Reagan, but he was rejected on October 23, 1987, because of his views on civil rights and privacy.)

The Watergate burglary on June 17, 1972, 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 motion 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 in July 1974, 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.

In 1998 President Bill Clinton awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom of Elliott Richardson.

See the NBC News coverage of the massacre: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yfnhuf-piq4

Learn about the Watergate Scandal: Stanley Kutler, The Wars of Watergate (1990)

All about Watergate: http://watergate.info/

Read the Senate Watergate Committee report: https://www.maryferrell.org/mffweb/archive/viewer/showDoc.do?docId=144965

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