“CBS News covering President Richard Nixon’s resignation speech in August, 1974. (I wasn’t born yet!) …”
CBS News covering President Richard Nixon’s resignation speech in August, 1974. (I wasn’t born yet!) Of course because of President Nixon’s involvement in the Watergate break in in 1972 where employees of the Richard Nixon Reelection Campaign, broke into Democratic National Headquarters at the Watergate Hotel in Washington in the summer of 1972. After it became clear because of President Nixon’s presidential tapes that the President ordered the coverup. he lost most of whatever support he had left in Congress. At least enough in the House and even in his own party to prevent him from being impeached by the House with a bipartisan majority and win a conviction trial in the Senate. The President would have been impeached by the House and convicted by the Senate. That is how Congress can remove the President and Vice President from office. Congressional Republicans led by Senator Barry Goldwater, but Senate Minority Leader Hugh Scott and House Minority Leader John Rhodes, told President Nixon that the gig was up, so to speak. Went to the White House and told the President he can’t survive Watergate and if he tries to he’ll be removed from off by Congress.
That is why President Richard Nixon resigned from office. Because had he not he would have faced a worst embarressment of being removed from office by Congress and perhaps losing half of his own party in the House and Senate on those votes. Senate Republicans told President Nixon that he might have twenty votes for acquittal in the Senate if it went that far. You need 34 to defeat impeachment in the Senate and Republicans had 45 seats in the Senate in that Congress. More than enough to defeat an impeachment trial if they’re united on it. President Nixon had calculated that he would probably get impeached by the Democratic House that had roughly 260 seats, but the win the conviction trial in the Senate. But Senator Goldwater told the President that he didn’t have enough votes in the Senate for that and that he Barry Goldwater would vote for conviction. Perhaps Richard Nixon did want to end this and save the country from seeng their President impeached and convicted. But it’s clear that a big part of him resigning was to save himself from further embarrassment.
This Democratic Congress of 1973-74, was ready to get past impeachment and deal with other issues. Like making sure the Vietnam War ended swiftly and properly, the country was going through a recession and lacked affordable energy, inflation was becoming a big problem, rising unemployment, etc. But just as long as President Nixon was removed one way or another from office. Whether they had to do that themselves or the President voluntarily stepped down. So as Roger Mudd and Dan Rather were talking about as far as whether the House would go through on impeachment anyway even with the President resigning, there was no appetite for that in either the Democratic Caucus or Republican Caucus. And the Democratic Senate wanted nothing to do with an impeachment trial and neither did Senate Republicans, especially if the President already decided to voluntarily resign. Richard Nixon being the master politician he was, knew when to fold and when he lost all support which is why he resigned from office.