U.S. Supreme Court
UNITED STATES v. NIXON, 418 U.S. 683 (1974)
418 U.S. 683
UNITED STATES v. NIXON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, ET AL. CERTIORARI BEFORE JUDGMENT TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT.
Burger Court (1972-1975)
Argued July 8, 1974.
Decided July 24, 1974. *
Defending Attorney for the President: James D. St. Clair
Prosecuting Attorney’s for the United States: Leon Jaworski & Philip A. Lacovara
On Sunday, June 18, 1972 the Washington Post reported that a group of people had been arrested for burglarizing at the Watergate Hotel and Office Complex in Washington, D.C. The violated office suite was occupied by the Democratic National Committee. The allegation was made that the burglars’ intention was to steal important files that were relevant to the upcoming election. It was then learned that a high ranking GOP security aide was one of those arrested, and on the payroll of Nixon’s reelection committee.
President Nixon acted as if he had no knowledge of what had happened and immediately promised the Senate Committee that this crime would be investigated immediately. Nixon then appointed a Special Investigator, Archibald Cox, as an independent Counselor to personally conduct investigations into the break in at the Watergate Hotel and Office Complex
It was soon after found that a check for twenty-five thousand dollars was deposited into a bank account of one of the men arrested and that the check that was written off Nixon’s reelection campaign fund account. This was the initial point in time that Nixon became linked to the burglary.
The investigation, and ensuing drama that took over two years to conduct would hence forth be referred to as “The Watergate Scandal” .
In the Congressional hearings that would follow the investigations into the attempted robbery, it was established that President Nixon had installed several tape recording devices in the Oval Office. President Nixon himself had recorded evidence implicating that that he, and his aides had broken the law and abused powers under the Constitution. Cox felt that these tapes contained important conversations and were proof of Nixon’s involvement and knowledge of the many crimes against the nation.
Cox, the Special Prosecutor, in his investigations found out there were eight tapes that contained relevant conversations that were recorded in the Oval Office, and subpoenaed Nixon for copies. Nixon refused, he stated that he was the President of the United States and immune to demand of releasing sensitive information claiming it was Executive Privilege. Executive privilege was a belief that a President and his aides had to be able to have open and free communication with one another and free from scrutiny from other branches of government. Only in this way could Presidential Advisor’s feel comfortable and be as honest as possible with the President on the issues that face the nation. The capability to keep discussions private and would the President’s was fully informed and able to make educated decisions without impairment.
Nixon did not comply with the subpoena and made a counter-offer to Cox. The President said that he would allow an esteemed member of Congress (Senator John Stennis), whom of course he (Nixon chose) to evaluate the tapes and recapitulate their contents because he didn’t want the tapes or transcripts to be put on public record; due to his use of vulgarity and racial slurs.
This counter-offer was repudiated and resulted in Nixon ordering the Attorney General and the Deputy Attorney General in Office at the time to fire Cox. Both Attorneys’ refused to comply. The result of this refusal to comply with an Executive Order ended up with all three of the men being forced to resign from their position. A new Special Prosecutor Leon Jaworski was appointed by Nixon. This new special prosecutor, decided that these tapes actually were...
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