United State Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities (The Watergate Committee)
17,270 pages in 30 volumes of Senate generated and/or collected documents concerning Watergate, including the Committee's final report, an index and supplement of legal documents.
The Committee played a pivotal role in gathering evidence that would lead to the indictment of forty administration officials and the conviction of several of Nixon's aides for obstruction of justice and other crimes. Its revelations prompted the introduction of articles of impeachment against the President in the House of Representatives, which led to Nixon's resignation.
On February 5, 1973, Senator Edward Kennedy offered Senate Resolution 60 to establish a Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities to investigate campaign activities related to the presidential election of 1972. It is the practice of the Senate that the sponsoring member of the Senate, Kennedy, would be the one who would chair the proceedings. However, in this case the Senate leadership decided that Kennedy, who had presidential aspirations, might be perceived as too partisan. The position instead went to Senator Sam Ervin of North Carolina. Harvard Law graduate Senator Ervin had previously been a North Carolina Supreme Court justice, and was considered by many to be the Senate's leading constitutional expert. At 76 years old, he was not thought to be contemplating running for president.
On February 7, 1973, the Senate voted unanimously to create the select committee. The resolution empowered four Democrats and three Republicans to subpoena witnesses and materials, provided them with a $500,000 budget, and required them to submit a final report by February 28, 1974. The resolution granted the committee the power to investigate the break-in and any subsequent cover-up of criminal activity, as well as "all other illegal, improper, or unethical conduct occurring during the Presidential campaign of 1972, including political espionage and campaign finance practices."
The Public Broadcasting System (PBS) broadcasted the hearings for two weeks in May 1973. One-hundred fifty PBS national affiliates broadcasted the proceedings from gavel to gavel live, often during prime time. George Gallup wrote in his book "The Gallup Poll: Public Opinion 1972-1977,"that 97 percent of Americans reported that they had heard of Watergate. Of those, 67 percent believed that President Nixon had participated in the Watergate cover-up.
President Nixon resisted cooperating with the Committee. Nixon claimed constitutional separation of powers allowed him to prevent his aides from testifying. Senator Ervin insisted that executive privilege could not be extended to cover criminal behavior and he threatened to authorize the sergeant at arms to arrest White House aides who refused to testify. Conceding to public pressure, the president allowed his aides to cooperate, but continued to deny the Committee access to presidential papers.
Nixon repeatedly declared that he knew nothing about the Watergate burglary, but one former aide, John Dean, testified that the president had approved plans to cover up White House connections to the break-in. Another aide, Alexander Butterfield, revealed that the president maintained a voice-activated tape recorder system in various rooms in the White House.
Chairman Ervin requested access to the tapes, believing that they would either corroborate or repudiate testimony that the president had knowledge of, and approved efforts to cover up, the Watergate break-in. Senate Resolution 194 authorized the Committee to "issue subpoenas for documents, tapes and other material to any officer of the executive branch," and the Committee subpoenaed the tapes. Nixon refused to comply, citing executive privilege and separation of powers. On August 9, 1973, the committee took the unprecedented step of suing the president in federal district court for access to the tapes and other documents.
The committee submitted its final report including legislative recommendations on June 27, 1974. On July 24 the Supreme Court ruled unanimously in a separate case, United States v. Nixon, that the president must surrender the tapes to the special prosecutor. President Nixon complied and the recordings revealed that he had approved a plan to cover up the White House connection to the Watergate burglary. Based on this evidence, the House Judiciary Committee adopted three articles of impeachment. Before the full House could vote, Nixon resigned on August 9, 1974.
United States Senate Oral History Interviews
297 pages of transcripts of oral history interviews conducted by the U.S. Senate Historical Office. Included are interviews with:
Rufus Edmisten, who during Watergate was deputy chief counsel for the majority and Deputy Chief Counsel, Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities (Watergate Committee).
William F. Hildenbrand, a congressional staffer who during Watergate was Administration Assistant to Senator Hugh Scott and later Senate Secretary to the Minority.
Francis R. Valeo, Secretary of the Senate during Watergate.
Floyd M. Riddick, Senate Parliamentarian during Watergate.
House of Representatives Impeachment Documents
12,114 pages of documents compiled by the House of Representative's Committee on the Judiciary concerning grounds for impeaching President Nixon.
On February 6, 1974, the House of Representatives adopted by a vote of 410 to 4 the following House Resolution 803: "RESOLVED, That the Committee on the Judiciary acting as a whole or by any subcommittee thereof appointed by the Chairman for the purposes hereof and in accordance with the Rules of the Committee, is authorized and directed to investigate fully and completely whether sufficient grounds exist for the House of Representatives to exercise its constitutional power to impeach Richard M. Nixon, President of the United States of America. The committee shall report to the House of Representatives such resolutions, articles of impeachment, or other recommendations as it deems proper."
By May 9, 1974, the House Judiciary Committee began hearings on articles of impeachment. Watergate break-in trial judge John Sirica turned over to the committee evidence against Nixon produced by a grand jury. On July 24, the Supreme Court handed down an 8-0 decision, forcing further release of secret Nixon recordings.
These volumes contain published supporting material consisting of information obtained at hearings before the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities; information developed in executive session by other Congressional committees; information furnished to the Committee by the Grand Jury of the District of Columbia and by other grand juries: information furnished to the Committee by government agencies; transcripts of tape recordings of conversations among President Nixon and his key associates prepared by the Committee staff; information furnished to the Committee by the President, the Executive Departments of the Government, the Special Prosecutor, and other information obtained by the Committee.
In late July, the House committee drafted three articles of impeachment against Nixon: Obstructing the Watergate investigation, Misuse of power and violating his oath of office, and Failure to comply with House subpoenas.
On Monday, August 5, tapes were released of three conversations between Nixon and Haldeman recorded six days after the break-in. The transcripts of the tapes showed the president ordering the FBI to end its investigation of the break-in.
Nixon's remaining support in the House and Senate crumbled. With impeachment certain in the House and the outcome of a trial in the Senate in little doubt, three leading Republicans paid Nixon a visit at the White House. They told him of his dwindling chances on the Hill. The following day, August 8, Nixon announced in a television broadcast to the nation his decision to resign the presidency at noon the next day. His terse letter of resignation was delivered to Secretary of State Henry Kissinger at 11:53 AM on August 9, 1974.
Transcripts of Testimony of Witnesses Before House Impeachment Committee
1,414 pages in three volumes, "Testimony of Witnesses: Hearings Before the Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives, Ninety-third Congress, Second Session, Pursuant to H. Res. 803, A Resolution Authorizing and Directing the Committee on the Judiciary to Investigate Whether Sufficient Grounds Exists for the House of Representatives to Exercise its Constitutional Power to Impeach Richard M. Nixon, President of the United States of America (1974)"
Includes the testimony of John W. Dean III, John N. Mitchell, Charles W. Colson, Alexander Butterfield, Paul O'Brien, Fred C. LaRue, William O. Bittman, Henry E. Petersen, and Herbert W. Kalmbach.
Congressional Record: Action on Senate Resolution 60
On February 5, 1973, Senator Edward Kennedy offered Senate Resolution 60 to establish a Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities to investigate campaign activities related to the presidential election of 1972.
Congressional Record: Vote to establish select committee
On February 7, 1973, the Senate voted unanimously to create the select committee.
Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities Legal Documents
55 pages of Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities court documents including:
Copy of Civil Complaint Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities v. Richard Nixon - On August 9, 1973, the committee took the unprecedented step of suing the president in federal district court for access to the White House tapes and other documents.
Supreme Court Ruling, on July 24th the Supreme Court unanimously ruled in the case United States v. Nixon
Judiciary Committee Hearings: Transcripts of Eight Recorded Presidential Conversations
A 224 page report issued on September 15, 1972, containing transcripts of eight conversations between White House advisor John Dean and President Nixon. These conversations were chosen because impeachment inquiry Committee staff found them to support information provided to the Committee regarding grounds for impeachment of President Nixon.
Report of the House Banking and Currency Committee on Watergate
81 page staff report issued on September 12, 1972 by the House of Representatives Banking and Currency Committee. The report covers what was then known about issues involving the movement of currency and financial instruments related to Watergate events.
Examination of President Nixon's Tax Returns for 1969 Through 1972
A 1,008 page report produced by the Senate Joint Committee on Internal Revenue Taxation.
Special Prosecutor and Watergate Grand Jury Legislation Hearings
A 522 page November 1973 report on the testimony to extend the Watergate grand jury and to establish a special prosecutor.
President Gerald Ford Testimony on Nixon's Pardon Audio
Audio recording and transcript of President Ford's testimony before the House Subcommittee on Criminal Justice of the House Judiciary Committee Concerning the Pardon of President Nixon 1974-10-17. Documentation of the appearance before the Subcommittee concerning the pardon of former President Nixon by Gerald Ford. Includes the voices of William Hungate, Peter Rodino, Edward Hutchinson, Henry P. Smith, Don Edwards, David Dennis, James Mann, Wiley Mayne, Elizabeth Holtzman, Lawrence J. Hogan, Robert Kastenmeier, and Walter Cronkite.
President Ford's testified about his decision to pardon his predecessor, Richard Nixon, for all offenses regarding Watergate. President Ford appeared before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Criminal Justice on October 17, 1974. Ford issued the pardon on September 8, 1974.
House of Representatives Report on the Pardon of Richard Nixon Hearings.
A 271 page report, "Pardon of Richard M. Nixon, and Related Matters: Hearings Before The Subcommittee On Criminal Justice of the Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives, Ninety-Third Congress, Second Session ... " September 24, October 1 and 17, 1974.
U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary Members and Impeachment Inquiry Staff Oral History.
479 pages of oral history transcripts of interviews conducted by the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum. Interviews of Committee members Elizabeth Holtzman and Charles Rangel. Interviews of staff members: Fred Altshuler, Jeffrey Banchero, Maureen Barden, Michael Conway, Evan Davis, Owen Fiss, Richard Gill, Robin Johansen, Dorothy Landsberg, Bernard Nussbaum, Francis S. O'Brien, Robert Sack, William Weld, and Joseph Woods.
A History of the Committee on the Judiciary 1813–2006
This 996 page history was produced by the United States House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary. It contains sections on Watergate and impeachment proceedings against Presidents Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Bill Clinton.