1974 August 5

White House Releases Incriminating “Smoking Gun” Tape Recordings – Nixon Resigns Four Days Later


President Richard Nixon turned over 64 White House tape recordings related to the Watergate scandal to the Watergate Special Prosecutor on this day. Nixon had tried to withhold them from the Special Prosecutor on grounds of executive privilege. In a landmark decision, United States v. Nixon, on July 24, 1974, however, the Supreme Court rejected his claim and ordered him to turn over the tapes. The so-called “smoking gun” tape of June 23, 1972, clearly indicated that Nixon had engaged in obstruction of justice.

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 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 July 27, 1974, and he resigned on August 9, 1974. President Gerald Ford pardoned Nixon on September 8, 1974, for any crimes he may have committed while president.

Listen to the “Smoking Gun” Tape: http://watergate.info/1972/06/23/the-smoking-gun-tape.html

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

Learn more about executive privilege: Mark Rozell, Executive Privilege: Presidential Power, Secrecy, and Accountability (2010)

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

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