Watergate’s evidence of presidential interference was a turning point in American history

Published: 26 October 2023

October 26, 2023 | Much of contemporary American politics can be traced to a little-remembered and dimly understood event that occurred a half-century ago, the Saturday Night Massacre. This article by David Shribman delves into the controversies over whether presidents are vulnerable to prosecution.

Richard Nixon, plagued by the Watergate scandal, attempted to remove Archibald Cox as special prosecutor in 1973. This action started a series of events that have since become standard features of American politics. The interference in the democratic process and the sabotage of the 1972 presidential election revealed a blatant disregard for the principles of democracy and the rule of law. President Nixon resigned as a result of it, becoming the first president in American history to do so.

“This was when people suddenly saw that Nixon might actually be the crook they thought he was,” Jill Wine-Banks, one of the Watergate prosecutors, said in an interview this week. “It was a beheading of the Department of Justice and the special prosecutor. It was an ‘Oh-my-God’ moment.  

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