Today celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Saturday Night Massacre. This graphic treatment in tomorrow’s LA Times. Thanks to Susan Brenneman and Wes Bausmith for above and beyond the call help.
The firing of the special Watergate prosecutor Cox, by Nixon marks a moment in history when the nation changed by widespread immediate consensus that a politician had gone too far. It has implication for our times. We learned that he incredible cannot happen . . . until it does. Etc.
Nixon would not let go of tapes that are suspected of implicating him in the cover up.
Special Prosector Archibald Cox needed those tapes for his investigation.
Nixon, of course, says no, claiming executive privilege.
Judge Sirica, a tough guy, doesn’t buy that.
Nixon comes up with a plan to release the tapes where they would be reviewed . . . by him!
Cox calls it what it is: BS.
That’s all, Nixon says. On Oct, 20, Saturday, Nixon orders AG Richardson to fire Cox. Richardson refuses and quits!
Next in line was Dep. AG William Ruckelshaus. He quits too!
Next Nixon goes to Solicitor General Robert Bork. Bork says yes and fires Cox.
This becomes a huge story, reported in media in almost real time. That night young people gathered at the White House. The American people rose up and demanded action. Leaders in Congress held a meeting that weekend to for the first time seriously discuss impeachment.
The people (well informed and) united will (mostly) never be defeated.
PS: Nixon was forced to hire a replacement prosector, Leon Jaworski, who, it turned out, was just as tough as Cox would have been. Every single player in Watregate, that includes cabinet members as well as many senior and junior lieutenants, went to prison. Except, of course, for You Know Who. Who by the way goes down in history primary, not for any achievements in the White house, but for Watergate, impeachment, resignation and disgrace. Justice was ultimately done.