You probably don’t remember, but today is a very significant day in American History. On this day 37 years ago, a Washington grand jury quietly indicted the Watergate Seven for conspiracy to hinder the Watergate investigation. On that day the grand jury also concluded that our president, Richard M. Nixon was involved in the cover-up and named him as an unindicted co-conspirator. That was the beginning of the end for old Dick Nixon.
Until that day in 1974 Nixon had been embroiled in the battle of his life, trying to steer clear of the growing investigation that centered on White House involvement in the Watergate break in back in June of 72, and subsequent attempt at covering it up. Nixon adamantly denied all knowledge of White House involvement and proclaimed his innocence, but no one believed him. The question on everyone’s mind was “What did the president know and when did he know it? Once the grand jury made it clear that the evidence pointed to Nixon’s involvement, it was all downhill from there.
One month later 64 of Nixon’s personal White House tapes were subpoenaed by the special prosecutor. Initially Nixon refused to hand over any of the tapes, citing executive privilege, but as pressure continued to mount, he eventually agreed to provide typed, edited transcripts to the Judiciary Committee. He even made a television appearance on April 29th to announce his decision to release the transcripts. It was not well received by the American public. One week after the speech the House Judiciary Committee began impeachment hearings.
The real bomb hit in late July when the Supreme Court in a unanimous decision announced that the president’s claim of executive privilege over the tapes were invalid, and they ordered the president to turn all of the tapes over to the special prosecutor. On July 30, 1974, President Nixon released the subpoenaed tapes. A few days later evidence was found on one of the tapes that proved that the President had lied to the nation, to his closest aides, and to his own lawyers – for more than two years. The newly discovered “smoking gun” proved beyond a doubt that our president knew a whole lot more than he’d cared to admit to.
The nation was up in arms, and impeachment was a certainty. But that never happened, on August 8th Nixon resigned and vice president Gerald Ford took office. For weeks there was talk of criminal charges being brought against the former president, but in early September President Ford granted Nixon a full pardon. After all, what are friends for.
I was a young man of 23 then, and I will never forget the whole Watergate Scandal. Two years of political bull crap! I can still see our shifty eyed president on TV time after time lying through his teeth. I always thought he looked guilty as hell. Then when he couldn’t lie any longer, there he was on TV again, good old Tricky Dick, pouring his heart out to the American public, rambling, trying desperately to cover his ass. Looking sad and dejected, he simply resigned without ever really admitting his guilt. And the nation breathed a sigh of relief. Tricky Dickie had been caught holding the bag and no matter how many times he tried to pass it on, it always came back to him.
I always liked Dick Nixon. Until the whole Watergate fiasco I thought he was a pretty good president. During his tenure he did some great things for civil rights and the space program as well as establishing relations with China and the Soviet Union. I would have continued to respect the man if he’d only had the cojones to own up to his mistakes. How can a guy who audio taped nearly every conversation in his oval office, deny wrong-doing when the proof is right there in his own voice? Do you know he went to his grave proclaiming his innocence? Unbelievable! He will never be forgotten!
“Dick Nixon: A Legend in His Own Mind”