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This day in history, July 27, 1974

This day in history: July 27, 1974

House begins impeachment of Richard Nixon

This was the impeachment that never was — though it could have resulted in the removal of a president.

Richard Nixon won a landslide victory in 1972, but before that happened, he engaged in some wrongdoing that led to what became known as Watergate.

It was a break-in at the Democratic National headquarters by some sleazy operators who were trying to tap their phones. It took a while, but many forces came about that led to the eventual vote by the Senate Judiciary Committee to impeach Nixon.

The events

According to,

On July 27, 1974, the House Judiciary Committee recommends that America’s 37th president, Richard M. Nixon, be impeached and removed from office.

The impeachment proceedings resulted from a series of political scandals involving the Nixon administration that came to be collectively known as Watergate.

The Watergate scandal first came to light following a break-in on June 17, 1972, at the Democratic Party’s national headquarters in the Watergate apartment-hotel complex in Washington, D.C. A group of men linked to the White House were later arrested and charged with the crime. Nixon denied any involvement with the break-in, but several of his staff members were eventually implicated in an illegal cover-up and forced to resign. Subsequent government investigations revealed “dirty tricks” political campaigning by the Committee to Re-Elect the President, along with a White House “enemies list.”

In July 1973, one of Nixon’s former staff members revealed the existence of secretly taped conversations between the president and his aides. Nixon initially refused to release the tapes, on grounds of executive privilege and national security, but a judge later ordered the president to turn them over. The White House provided some but not all of the tapes, including one from which a portion of the conversation appeared to have been erased.

In May 1974, the House Judiciary Committee began formal impeachment hearings against Nixon. On July 27 of that year, the first article of impeachment against the president was passed. Two more articles, for abuse of power and contempt of Congress, were approved on July 29 and 30.

The rest of the sordid story

What did not happen was the actual impeachment. Republicans and some family members convinced Nixon to resign, which he did in August of 1974,

On August 5, Nixon complied with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling requiring that he provide transcripts of the missing tapes, and the new evidence clearly implicated him in a cover up of the Watergate break-in. On August 8, Nixon announced his resignation, becoming the first president in U.S. history to voluntarily leave office. After departing the White House on August 9, Nixon was succeeded by Vice President Gerald Ford, who, in a controversial move, pardoned Nixon on September 8, 1974, making it impossible for the former president to be prosecuted for any crimes he might have committed while in office.

Only three presidents in U.S. history have been impeached: Andrew Johnson in 1868, Bill Clinton in 1998 and Donald Trump in 2019 and in 2021.

Nixon started a collapse of the Republican Party that took over 50 years to bring to fruition. However, today, that might occur with everything that is occurring today.

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