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Watergate Chronology – 1974

January 1974

There are now ongoing calls for Nixon to resign and the Congress begins to seriously consider impeachment.

TIME Magazine names Watergate Judge John Sirica as Man of the Year.


February 1974

Feb 06
The House of Representatives votes to authorize the House Judiciary Committee to investigate whether grounds exist for the impeachment of President Nixon.


March 1974

Mar 01
Nixon is named as an unindicted co-conspirator in an indictment against seven former presidential aides.


April 1974

April 16
Special Prosecutor Jaworski issues a subpoena for 64 White House tapes.

April 29
Nixon refuses to hand over the tapes, but provides more edited transcripts to the Judiciary Committee. He appears on national television to announce his decision to release the transcripts.

There is public shock at the general tone of the conversations and the foul language used by Nixon and others. The expression “expletive deleted” enters the vocabulary.


May 1974

May 09
Impeachment hearings begin before the House Judiciary Committee.


July 1974

Jul 24
The Supreme Court, by a unanimous vote of 8-0 (William Rehnquist abstaining) upholds the Special Prosecutor’s subpoena, ordering Nixon to make the tapes available for the Watergate trials of his former subordinates. The case is known as United States v. Nixon.

Jul 25
Barbara Jordan, a Democratic Party member of the House Judiciary Committee, makes a famous speech reminding her colleagues of the constitutional basis for impeachment of the President.

Jul 27
The House Judiciary Committee adopts the first Article of Impeachment by a vote of 27-11, with 6 Republicans voting with the Democrats. The Article charges Nixon with obstruction of the investigation of the Watergate break-in.

Jul 29
The House Judiciary Committee adopts the second Article of Impeachment that charges Nixon with misuse of power and violation of his oath of office.

Jul 30
The House Judiciary Committee adopts the third Article of Impeachment, charging Nixon with failure to comply with the House subpoenas.

  • Listen to the Impeachment Resolution being moved in the Judiciary Committee.


August 1974

Aug 05
Nixon releases transcripts of three conversations he had with Haldeman six days after the Watergate break-in. These tapes prove that he ordered a cover-up of the Watergate burglary. The June 23 tape becomes known as The Smoking Gun because it reveals that Nixon ordered the FBI to abandon its investigation of the break-in. The tapes show that he knew of the involvement of White House officials and the Campaign for the Re-election of the President.

The eleven Republicans on the Judiciary Committee who voted against impeachment say they will change their votes. It is clear that Nixon will be impeached and convicted in the Senate.

Aug 07
Three senior Republican congressmen meet with Nixon, advising him that his chances of avoiding impeachment by the House and removal from office by the Senate are “gloomy”.

Around the country, calls mount for Nixon’s resignation, and speculation builds about Nixon’s intentions.

Aug 08
In a televised address to the nation at 9pm, Nixon announces that he will resign.

  • Listen to the complete Nixon resignation speech.
  • What If Nixon Hadn’t Resigned? – read the draft speech prepared by Ray Price in which Nixon would have vowed to fight on.

August 9
In the morning, Nixon delivers a farewell address to the White House.

Nixon departs the White House by helicopter.


As he flies out of Washington, Richard Milhous Nixon resigns as the 37th President of the United States, the first President ever to do so. His resignation letter is submitted to the Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, at 11.35am and Gerald Ford is sworn in as President shortly afterwards.

As Nixon resigned, staff of the Watergate Special Prosecutor, Leon Jaworski, sent a memorandum weighing up the arguments for and against prosecuting Nixon.

At around noon, Gerald Ford becomes the 38th president. Later, he nominates the former Republican Governor of New York, Nelson Rockefeller, as vice-president. They become the nation’s first unelected presidential duo.


September 1974

Sep 08
In a surprise Sunday morning announcement, Ford grants a “full free and absolute” pardon to Nixon for “all offenses against the United States” committed between January 20, 1969 and August 9, 1974.
Malcolm Farnsworth
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