Anniversary of a resignation
Forty-four years ago today, Richard Nixon resigned as president of the United States.
On Aug. 9, 1974, Marine One (the presidential helicopter) took Nixon and his wife, Pat, from the White House lawn to Andrews Air Force Base for the long plane ride to their home in San Clemente, Calif.
America’s “long nightmare” had finally come to an end. The scandal that came with the 1972 break-in at the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters in the Watergate complex brought down a president.
Two young reporters for The Washington Post — Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein — doggedly pursued the story behind Watergate. Before they were finished, Nixon’s notorious “plumbers,” as the burglars were termed, were exposed. They had broken into not only Watergate, but also the office of Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist. Ellsberg, of course, was the leaker of the Pentagon Papers.
More damning than the break-ins was the Nixon administration’s attempt at covering up the crimes. For over two years, Woodward and Bernstein wrote story after story putting the small pieces into place to paint the entire picture of a lawless administration.
The House of Representatives voted articles of impeachment against the president. As hearings began in the Senate, Nixon’s White House taping system was exposed and his days in the presidency became numbered.
As the 40th anniversary of the resignation approached, a previously unseen interview with Nixon in 1983 was aired. CBS reported that Nixon knew the transcript of a tape describing his approval of the cover-up was the “final nail in the coffin.”
At noon on that hot August day, Vice President Gerald Ford was sworn in as the 38th president of the United States. While the brief ceremony took place, the 37th president flew home in disgrace.
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