In February 1974, the House of Representatives commenced proceedings to consider impeaching President Richard Nixon.
Political investigations began in February 1973 when the Senate established a Committee to investigate the Watergate scandal. The public hearings of the Committee were sensational, including the evidence of John Dean, Nixon’s former White House Counsel. The Committee also uncovered the existence of the secret White House tape recordings, sparking a major political and legal battle between the Congress and the President.
On February 6, 1974, the House of Representatives passed House Resolution 803 by 410-4 to authorise the Judiciary Committee to consider impeachment proceedings against Nixon.
This is the text of HR803:
“RESOLVED, That the Committee on the Judiciary acting as a whole or by any subcommittee thereof appointed by the Chairman for the purposes hereof and in accordance with the Rules of the Committee, is authorized and directed to investigate fully and completely whether sufficient grounds exist for the House of Representatives to exercise its constitutional power to impeach Richard M. Nixon, President of the United States of America. The committee shall report to the House of Representatives such resolutions, articles of impeachment, or other recommendations as it deems proper.”
The work of this Committee was again the spotlight a quarter of a century later when Bill Clinton was impeached.
In 1974, the House Judiciary Committee recommended Articles of Impeachment to the full House of Representatives, but Nixon resigned before the House voted on the Articles.
Hence Nixon was not impeached during the Watergate scandal. The only Presidents ever to have been impeached were Andrew Johnson (1867) and Bill Clinton (1998), both of whom were acquitted in their Senate trials.
- Members of the House Judiciary Committee 1974
- Impeachment Material Submitted To And Prepared By The House Judiciary Committee
- Articles of Impeachment Adopted by the House Judiciary Committee
- Analysis of the Impeachment Votes of the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives
Watergate Impeachment – Archived Posts
- Jul 24, 1974: United States v. NixonFull text of the US Supreme Court decision in the Watergate tapes case: United States v. Nixon
- Jul 25, 1974: Barbara Jordan: Speech on ImpeachmentText and video of Representative Barbara Jordan’s powerful speech reminding her Judiciary Committee colleagues of the constitutional basis for impeachment.
- Aug 08, 1974: Representative Is “Out of Step,” Clinton ChargesArkansas Gazette: United States Representative John Paul Hammerschmidt of Harrison is wrong in opposing President Nixon’s resignation and is wrong in questioning whether the president has committed an impeachable offense, Bill Clinton of Fayetteville, Hammerschmidt’s opponent, said here Wednesday.
- Jan 29, 2007: Drinan, First To File Impeachment Resolution Against Nixon, Dies, 86The Rev. Robert F. Drinan, the man who first filed an impeachment resolution against President Richard Nixon, has died in Washington. Drinan served as a member of the House Judiciary Committee that voted in favour of the Watergate articles of impeachment in 1974.