United States v. Nixon
Today the Nixon Library begins a new series—Road to Resignation—which highlights President Nixon’s last few days in office.
On this day, July 24, 1974, Chief Justice Warren Burger announced the verdict of the Supreme Court in United States v. Nixon. It ruled that President Nixon’s “generalized interest in confidentiality” was not grounds for the crushing of a subpoena seeking the release of the tapes of his recorded conversations relating to the Watergate affair.
The vote was 8-0: Justice William Rehnquist, a former Nixon administration official, had recused himself. The Watergate Tapes were released as a result.
- Follow the final days of Nixon’s Presidency here.
- Listen to key moments compiled by the Nixon White House Tapes Team here — Richard Nixon Resigns the Presidency.
Photo: U.S. Supreme Court Justices, 1973. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.
"IN EVENT OF MOON DISASTER"
Unbeknownst to the American people, one President Nixon’s speechwriters, William Safire, was asked to write a statement that the President would make to the American people in the event of a disaster and the Apollo 11 astronauts were stranded on the Moon. Though never delivered, it remains an eloquent tribute to the bravery and pioneering spirit of the astronauts. When the astronauts of Apollo 11 returned safely to earth, their mission was hailed around the world as an achievement of epic proportions, and this statement was quietly tucked away into the record.
"We have a cancer… close to the Presidency, that’s growing. It’s growing daily…"
On July 16, 1973, during his testimony before the Senate Watergate Committee, Deputy Assistant to the President Alexander Butterfield shocked the world by revealing the existence of a White House taping system.
This revelation proved particularly explosive as the taping system could and would corroborate John Dean’s June 1973 testimony that he had detailed for President Richard Nixon White House-led cover-up efforts of the Watergate break-in in a March 1973 conversation. Dean testified that he had even warned the President of a lethal “cancer growing on the Presidency,” due to the continued perjury and pay-offs required to maintain the cover-up.
The conversation between President Nixon and White House Counsel John Dean had occurred on March 21, 1973 and was captured by recording devices in the Oval Office of the White House.
In this conversation segment, Dean warns President Nixon that the Watergate cover-up is a growing “cancer… close to the Presidency.” Listen here.
More Watergate-Related Conversations from the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum.
On July 15, 1971, Richard Nixon announced to the nation that he had accepted the PRC’s invitation for him visit China.
President Nixon’s trip to China in 1972 ended twenty-five years of isolation between the United States and the People’s Republic of China (PRC). He viewed his trip as the first step in a long process of contact between the United States and the PRC. Further, he believed it would reduce tension between the United States, the PRC, and the Soviet Union.
The President’s trip to China required a tremendous amount of planning. Part of this effort involved matters of protocol and etiquette, such as the use of chopsticks.
Image: Transcript of Speech President Nixon Gave Announcing Upcoming Trip to China. 7/15/1971.
More on Ping Pong Diplomacy: Nixon’s Trip to China on the Presidential Timeline.
The Government’s environmentally related activities have grown up piecemeal over the years. The time has come to organize them rationally and systematically.
-President Richard Nixon
Special Message to Congress to Establish the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration
July 9, 1970
First Lady Pat Nixon and President Richard Nixon reviewing supplies bound for Peru, June 28, 1970.
Mrs. Nixon organized a relief effort for Peru after a 7.9 “Great Peruvian Earthquake” occurred on May 31, 1970. She flew with a cargo plane loaded with aid supplies, and visited the hospitals, relief centers and hardest hit disaster areas. She was later awarded The Grand Cross of the Order of the Sun by the President of Peru, the highest honor and oldest historic medal Peru (and South America) bestows for valor. Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum Identifier: C3777-11A.
-from the Nixon Library
What did the President know and when did he know it? Find out for yourself by listening to the “smoking gun” conversation!
On June 23, 1972, President Richard Nixon met with Chief of Staff H. R. (“Bob”) Haldeman, following the June 17 break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate building. In this conversation segment, President Nixon and Haldeman discuss the progress of the FBI’s investigation. They especially focus on the tracing of the source of money found on the burglars. They propose having the CIA ask the FBI to halt their investigation of the Watergate break-in by claiming that the break-in was a national security operation.
On July 24, 1974, after a yearlong legal battle, the Supreme Court announced its 8-0 ruling that President Nixon must turn over the 64 tapes subpoenaed by the Special Prosecutor. On August 5, 1974, White House aides distributed to reporters transcripts of the June 23, 1972 audiotape, accompanied by President Nixon’s own two-page statement. In his comments, President Nixon wrote, “portions of the tapes of these June 23 conversations are at variance with certain of my previous statements.”
Conversation 714-002, Audiotape 744 (NARA Identifier #6852462), Oval Office Recordings, White House Tapes, Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, National Archives and Records Administration.
More Watergate-Related Conversations via the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum.