This week marks the 39th anniversary of Watergate finale

August 8, 2013
Photographer: STF Credit: AFP
Photographer: STF
Credit: AFP

It’s only happened four times before, but it turns out the days of this week directly coincide with President Nixon’s tumultuous, surreal, last week in office in 1974.

It was Monday, Aug. 5, 1974, that the famous “Smoking Gun” tape was revealed. The tape recorded Nixon, six days after the break-in, conspiring with his staff to have the CIA ask the FBI not to investigate the break-in for reasons of national security. The revelation  instantly cratered any possible chance Nixon could stay in office.

Even so, on Tuesday, Aug. 6, Nixon resisted, determined to go to trial in the Senate. He told his Cabinet that he’d listened to “miles and miles” of tape, according to an account in “The Final Days, by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, and hadn’t found “an impeachable offense,” so he was not resigning.

Wednesday, Aug. 7, a delegation of top Republicans — Sens. Barry Goldwater (Ariz.) and Hugh Scott (Pa.), and House GOP leader Rep. John Rhodes (Ariz.)  went to the White House to make sure Nixon realized he was facing certain conviction in the House and removal by the Senate. Apparently he did, and later that night began working on his resignation speech..

Thursday, Aug. 8, at 9 p.m., Nixon announced on national television that he would resign the presidency effective at noon, Friday, Aug. 9.

Friday, Aug. 9. The historic Nixon photo of him flashing the famous “V’ with his arms atop the steps of the helicopter on the south lawn.

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.
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Emily Heil · August 8, 2013