40 years later, Nixon’s misconduct in Watergate ‘remains unequaled’
Four decades later, Watergate remains the gold standard for other scandals, said Ken Hughes, a historian with the Miller Center’s Presidential Recording Program at the University of Virginia and author of “Chasing Shadows,” a book detailing new revelations about Nixon’s cover-ups.
“The extent of Nixon’s abuses of power remain unequaled,” Hughes said. “Many politicians have been accused of being Nixonian; but with Nixon, we actually know to a great extent what he did.”
Watergate was not only a scandal of domestic politics, but a scandal that extended all the way into foreign policy, into matters of war and peace and life and death, Hughes said.
“And 40 years after the fact we know that Watergate was bigger and much worse than we realized at the time,” he said.
At 9:01 p.m., 40 years ago this Friday, Richard Milhous Nixon sat before a television camera in the Oval Office and announced to the American public in a live broadcast that he would resign rather than endure a humiliating Senate impeachment trial for obstruction of justice.
“I have never been a quitter,” he said in his 15-minute speech. “To leave office before my term is completed is abhorrend to every instinct in my body. But as president, I must put the interest of America first.”
Bearing the dark rings of defeat and exhaustion under his eyes, Nixon, 61, stone-faced and calm, appeared to be resigned to his fate of becoming the first – and to this day, only – U.S. president to step down.
His resignation as the 37th president, 21 months after being reelected with more than 60 percent of the vote, was the culmination of a battle against allegations that he may have covered up a botched burglary two years earlier in which a group of men with ties to the White House had attempted to bug the offices of the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate Hotel in Washington.”
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