Published On: Sat, Jan 4th, 2014

This Day in History: Richard Nixon refuses to handover Watergate tapes and documents

Forty years ago one of the greatest scandals in American history took a dreaded turn for the worse as President Nixon refused to comply with a Senate subpoena for the Watergate tapes and documents.

President Nixon delivers an Address to the Nation from the Oval Office responding to subpoenas for the White House Tapes with edited transcripts.

President Nixon delivers an Address to the Nation from the Oval Office responding to subpoenas for the White House Tapes with edited transcripts.

The complete timeline of the Watergate scandal shows how the Nixon administration drug their feet before turning over tapes which had sections erased.

“Panel of experts examining the tapes surrendered by Nixon reports that an 18-minute gap in one of the tapes was caused by at least five separate erasing and re-recording operations, and not by a single, accidental erasure,” notes Calvert regarding the condition of the tapes on January 18.

Egil Krogh Jr. is sentenced to six months in prison, Nixon is ordered to pay back taxes after an IRS investigation and the case goes to the US Supreme Court. Nixon’s defiant attitude and handling of the cover-up destroyed any chance of garnering public support.

The tapes reveal corruption, black mail and a rogue administration.

The tapes revealed several crucial conversations that took place between the President and his counsel, John Dean, on March 21, 1973. In this conversation, Dean summarized many aspects of the Watergate case, and focused on the subsequent coverup, describing it as a “cancer on the presidency.” The burglary team was being paid hush money for their silence and Dean stated: “That’s the most troublesome post-thing, because Bob [Haldeman] is involved in that; John [Ehrlichman] is involved in that; I am involved in that; Mitchell is involved in that. And that’s an obstruction of justice.” Dean continues and states that Howard Hunt is blackmailing the White House, demanding money immediately, and President Nixon replies that the blackmail money should be paid: “…just looking at the immediate problem, don’t you have to have – handle Hunt’s financial situation damn soon? […] you’ve got to keep the cap on the bottle that much, in order to have any options.” (Source)

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