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Federal Impeachment

Richard Nixon

Drawing shows witnesses testifying during Watergate hearings.
Joseph Papin, artist. Watergate hearings, dirty tricks inquiry, Senate Caucus Room, Washington, D.C., October 4, 1973. 1973. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Nixon, the 37th president of the United States, was investigated by the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities and by two special prosecutors for activities relating to the obstruction of the investigation of the burglary at the Democratic National Committee headquarters (“Watergate”). Hearings were held by the Senate Select Committee in 1973.

During this time, Nixon was also under investigation by special prosecutor Archibald Cox, who Nixon ordered to be fired in October 1973. After Cox’s dismissal, several resolutions of impeachment were introduced in the House. In February 1974, the House approved a resolution authorizing the Committee on the Judiciary to investigate if grounds existed for Nixon’s impeachment. At the same time, Leon Jaworski, the second Watergate special counsel, sought to release transcripts of recorded conversations concerning the burglary’s cover-up.

During the spring of 1974, the Committee on the Judiciary conducted an investigation of Nixon’s actions. Beginning in July, the Committee conducted televised hearings, during which three articles of impeachment were adopted.

In late July, Nixon’s claim of executive privilege concerning the transcripts was rejected by the Supreme Court. In compliance with the decision on August 5, 1974, Nixon released the transcripts of three conversations that showed his involvement in the attempt to hinder the investigation of the break-in. In reaction to these materials, Nixon’s political support disappeared, and he resigned on August 9, 1974.

The following is only a partial listing of the materials published about Watergate. Note that hundreds of pages in the Congressional Record are devoted to the Watergate investigation and the impeachment inquiry. Readers are advised to have specific search terms before consulting the index. For procedural matters on the floor, also consult the Daily Digest. The Congressional Record is available in print and online at govinfo.