Tue, 9 May 2017
This week's episode features a massacre, though not necessarily the kind you would expect from this particular show. It relates indirectly to the presidency of one Donald Trump, but that's about as political as I would like for it to be.
President Richard Nixon managed to avoid impeachment by resigning just before the articles of impeachment made their way through the House of Representatives into the U.S. Senate.
The basic story is this: President Nixon wanted to prevent some damning audio tapes from being introduced into the investigation into the Watergate break-in and cover-up, so he tried to coerce his Attorney General, Elliot Richardson, to fire Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox.
The resulting scandal is known as the Saturday Night Massacre. A lot of people are making connections between Nixon firing Archibald Cox and President Trump firing FBI Director James Comey, so I thought I would give a primer on the case.
Here's a brief re-telling of that situation: Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox asked for several of Richard Nixon's dictabelt recordings in lieu of the investigation.
Nixon turned down Cox's request for tapes featuring John W. Dean, citing "executive privilege" because he didn't think it was anybody's damn business.
Richard Nixon, at first, tried to get AG Richardson to get Archibald Cox under control. Alexander Haig, Chief of Staff, met with AG Richardson to try to influence him to calm down Archibald Cox.
At the same time, there was an investigation into VP Agnew regarding taking cash payouts. After a meeting on the subject, Nixon basically said to Elliot Richardson, "Now we have to get rid of Archibald Cox."
Judge Sirica ordered for all of the subpoenaed tapes to be turned over. Nixon really wanted to get rid of Cox after that. He had his lawyer, Fred Buzhardt, to meet with AG Richardson and present a two-pronged plan:
1. Nixon would listen to the tapes and oversee transcripts being turned over.
2. Cox would have to be fired.
Attorney General Richardson said he would rather resign than fire Archibald Cox. The compromise failed, and yet President Nixon attempted to persuade Richardson to fire Cox. Richardson ended up resigning and so did the acting Attorney General, William Ruckleshaus. The third-in-command, Robert Bork, ended up doing the dirty deed.
The result ended up being called the Saturday Night Massacre. The Saturday Night Massacre was notable in and of itself, but it also signaled just how corrupted President Richard Nixon would be.
If you're interested in checking out my books, please do. You can pick up a signed copy of my third novel, Dirt Merchant, at my personal Selz page or the local bookstore that's treated me SO well, Parnassus Books in Nashville, TN.