Nixon Could Have Avoided Inevitable Impeachment ...

… by destroying his tapes of White House conversations.

You may remember that Alexander Butterfield, the guy who installed the tape system, in an offhand remark before some committee revealed that the system existed. Of course, the Dems were immediately demanding that the tapes be made public. Nixon refused.

Here’s the thing. Initially most all Repubs supported Nixon in his refusal to do so, generally basing their support on the idea of personal executive privilege … he made them, they were his to do with as he wished. Suppose Nixon had told the Dems to fuck off and had burned them in the Rose Garden. I think he would have been applauded by much of the GOP and the idea of impeachment would never gained traction.

But no, Tricky Dick stonewalled for 6 mos while his support fell away until finally even George Will and Bill Buckley joined the chorus for revelation and the rest is history.

I would have put this in IMHO but since the mods moved my Clinton impeachment OP to GD, I thought I’d save them the trouble.

Nixon’s attitude would have still forced him out.

If he had come clean in the first place and dug into where the orders really came from and then cleaned house and accepted the blame I do not think he would have faced impeachment.

But he believed he could keep lieing to the publlic and we would believe him. How many times as the truth was revieled did he come on TV and tell us the “truth” about what happened. Then Have to come back again and admit the the break in and the cove up was a little futher uup the chain of command. “Turst me I am telling the truth” oops I left something out but now I am telling the truth.

Same with clinton if he had admited the truth at the begining, instead of the he did the old “tust me I am now telling the truth”.

He would have incriminated himself and his entire administration and faced conviction in the Senate. He did not have that option.

All Clinton lied about was a blowjob, not Watergate, slush-funding dirty tricks, etc.

IIRC, Nixon’s minions stayed loyal to the end and never implicated him. It was the somewhat redacted tape transcript that made it clear he was the major conspirator and assured his impeachment and conviction. Resignation (and pardon, even tho he was neither charged nor convicted of anything) was his only choice. WTF didn’t he destroy those tapes?

Doesn’t “inevitable” mean “unavoidable”?

The transcripts made his impeachment inevitable. Had he destroyed the tapes early on while he still had considerable political backing, he could have avoided impeachment. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

On what do you base your theory? Wouldn’t he have been charged with tampering with evidence?

Evidence of what? A tape system he had control of. He argued unsuccessfully that the tapes belonged to him personally. Better to dispose of them and shift the debate to whether or not he had had the right to dispose of them. At that point it would have been moot. IANAL.

And if it was found that he didn’t have the right to dispose of them – what then? (it could be argued that the tape machine belonged to the government, could it not?)

Again – what do you base this on?

Besides, I thought it was FDR who originally had it installed? :confused:

Endlessly, but with no effect. Who owns Cheney’s missing emails?

There is no way he could’ve not been impeached. Now removing him from office is another story. I would be hard pressed to come up with a senerio where he wasn’t impeached, but it’d be a lot easier to come up with a way that the Senate wouldn’t have removed him.

Poltics were a lot different then.

For instance, the Speaker of the House would’ve been next in line if Agnew and Nixon left quick enough and he expressed grave reservations since he was a Democrat and the people overwhelmingly voted for a Republican president in '72.

Can you imagine anyone saying that today?

I would say Nixon could not have avoided being impeached, but it is possible, though unlikely, he wouldn’t have been removed.

“Some committee” was the Senate Watergate Hearings. The offhand remark was made during questioning by staff counsel Fred Thompson, serving as counsel at that particular moment to Senator Howard Baker (Republican, Tennessee). Fred eventually became a Republican Senator himself from Tennessee himself and ran for President.

It wasn’t just the Democrats who were in search of the truth wherever it led. The Republicans of integrity were not about to let a bunch of thugs drag down the GOP. The more they investigated the uglier it got.

John Dean’s testimony was a major blow to Nixon’s credibility.

Attorney-General John Mitchell’s wife Martha added her own interesting informal interviews to the mix. She was priceless.

Nixon’s attics on October 20, 1973 added a lot of fuel to the fire. I can’t remember exactly what happened except that he wanted someone in authority to fire the Special Prosecutor and that person refused. That person was fired and someone else appointed to that position. Then that person was ordered to fire the Special Prosecutor and he did and a new one was appointed. I remember there was even speculation on the news commentaries afterwards that Nixon came close to declaring Martial Law that night.

It was an interesting time to be alive. We never missed a CBS News broadcast in those days.

Just about everyone went to prison. Nixon was declared an unindicted co-conspirator. He was pardoned by Gerald R. Ford. I don’t know of any other time that a person who was not indicted has been pardoned.

His removal was not partisan.

Sigh. Politics really were different then.

And wasn’t Nixon convinced that the tapes would somehow Vindicate him in The Eyes of History? Not only about Watergate, but in terms of his entire presidency. From what I’ve read, he would resign before giving up something that would (he thought) ensure his place in history. Which is what he more or less did.

Yep, high times. Actually, the AG Elliot Richardson and Deputy AG William Ruckelshaus both resigned rather than fire the SP, Archibald Cox. It was the number three in the justice dept, Robert Bork who did the dirty deed. I like to think that it had something to do with his later being denied a seat on the Supreme Court.

Let’s remember what Watergate was about: Every first-term POTUS wants a second term, but none had ever been so obsessed with it as Nixon. This was bound up with his persecution-mania and social-inferiority complex, as well as with the sociopolitical environment of the time, when many on both sides of the divide actually believed (quite mistakenly) that America was on the brink of a revolution, or was having one already. Nixon could not lose in 1972, it would be a disaster, he believed, not only for him, but for the Establishment* and the country. He passed this obsession along to his staff, and they formed CRP and came up with a strategy: Sabotage the primary campaigns of all contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination, except for that of George McGovern, who was adjudged the easiest for Nixon to beat in the general election. When this came out, Nixon was doomed. He could get away with a lot of dubiously legal, even outright criminal, acts, such as the secret bombing of Cambodia and the Chilean coup; but he could not get away with cheating at the game and getting caught at it. Even the Republicans in Congress turned against him at the end.

(By 2000, the standards in American politics had changed somewhat . . . :frowning: )

  • Somewhere I have a vinyl LP of public speeches by VP Spiro Agnew. He might well have been the last prominent American to speak of “the Establishment” as something he was supporting; and almost the last to speak of it at all.

I always wondered why he wanted a tape system there in the first place. My big fear would have been stuff getting leaked (as did wind up happening) giving my critics plenty of ammunition.
And do presidents still record all of their conversations?


Nixon could not have avoided inevitable impeachment. Inevitable means impossible to avoid. Anyway, he did avoid impeachment–by resigning.


Yes, his impeachment was only seemingly inevitable.:smack:

Skald, you’ve misparsed the sentence. Think of it this way: “He could have avoided (inevitable impeachment.)”, where ‘inevitable impeachment’ is only one form of impeachment. No President can avoid all possible impeachment, but, unless your enemies have evidence of wrongdoing, any impeachment would be avoidable, as opposed to inevitable.

In other words, burning the tapes would have changed ‘inevitable impeachment’ into ‘avoidable impeachment’.

My guess is he really believed he was on the right side of history, and was certain enough and vain enough to want to leave an accurate record for posterity.

Why is “evitable” not a word?