Presidential Impeachment

December 5, 1973

Report Outline
Moves Towards Impeachment of Nixon
Impeachment as Curb on Executive Power
Presidential Removal and Succession
Special Focus

Moves Towards Impeachment of Nixon

Watergates as Catalyst for Action Against Nixon

Talk of impeachment is in the air. Not since the impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson in 1868 has there been so much demand that Article II, Section 4, of the Constitution be invoked against a President of the United States. It stipulates that the “President, Vice President and all other civil officers of the United States shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery and other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Public sentiment for President Nixon's removal grew after his firing of Watergate Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox on Oct. 23—though public opinion polls indicated impeachment lacked majority support. Since then, 25 resolutions dealing with impeachment have been introduced in Congress, bringing the total to 30 since the 93rd Congress convened on Jan. 3, 1973. Members of both parties reported that mail from constituents was running heavily in favor of the President's removal. Responding to this outpouring, the House Judiciary Committee began investigating whether there were grounds for impeachment. And a number of newspapers, student organizations, business and labor leaders, and politicians, some of whom once were friendly to Nixon, have called for his removal or resignation.

When the President agreed to turn over tape recordings that had been requested by the former special prosecutor to Judge John J. Sirica on Oct. 23, it was thought that the pressure for impeachment would subside. But the disclosures that key tapes were missing or inaudible, and the confusing, often contradictory, explanations offered by the White House have, if anything, seemed to fuel the drive.However, illegal or unethical Watergate-related activities were only the catalyst in the impeach-Nixon drive, the American Civil Liberties Union reported.In a resolution the ACLU adopted Sept. 20,it called for Nixon's impeachment on grounds “affecting civil liberties”.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Ethics in Government
Jan. 31, 2014  Whistleblowers
Feb. 18, 2011  Lies and Politics
Apr. 30, 2010  Gridlock in Washington
Jun. 22, 2007  Prosecutors and Politics
Jun. 16, 2006  Pork Barrel Politics
May 07, 1999  Independent Counsels Re-Examined
Feb. 21, 1997  Independent Counsels
May 27, 1994  Political Scandals
Apr. 06, 1979  Assassinations Investigation
Dec. 05, 1973  Presidential Impeachment
May 16, 1973  Ethics in Government
May 10, 1961  Secret Societies and Political Action
Jun. 29, 1960  Conflicts of Interest
Oct. 26, 1955  Businessmen in Government
Apr. 07, 1954  Fair Investigations
Apr. 25, 1952  Congressional Immunity
Dec. 05, 1951  Ethics in Government
Jan. 28, 1948  Individual Rights and Congressional Investigations
Jul. 02, 1934  Political Reform and Federal Patronage
Mar. 07, 1924  Congressional Extravagance and the Budget
Nov. 12, 1923  Issues Developed in the Teapot Dome Inquiry
Congress Actions
Powers and History of the Presidency
U.S. Constitution