Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Saturday Night Massacre occurred 40 years ago today

Oct. 21, 1973.

Nixon Forces Firing of Cox; Richardson, Ruckelshaus Quit

President Abolishes Prosecutor's Office; FBI Seals Records

By Carroll Kilpatrick
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, October 21, 1973; Page A01

In the most traumatic government upheaval of the Watergate crisis, President Nixon yesterday discharged Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox and accepted the resignations of Attorney General Elliot L. Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William D. Ruckelshaus.

The President also abolished the office of the special prosecutor and turned over to the Justice Department the entire responsibility for further investigation and prosecution of suspects and defendants in Watergate and related cases.

Shortly after the White House announcement, FBI agents sealed off the offices of Richardson and Ruckelshaus in the Justice Department and at Cox's headquarters in an office building on K Street NW.

An FBI spokesman said the agents moved in "at the request of the White House."

Agents told staff members in Cox's office they would be allowed to take out only personal papers. A Justice Department official said the FBI agents and building guards at Richardson's and Ruckelshaus' offices were there "to be sure that nothing was taken out."

Richardson resigned when Mr. Nixon instructed him to fire Cox and Richardson refused. When the President then asked Ruckelshaus to dismiss Cox, he refused, White House spokesman Ronald L. Ziegler said, and he was fired. Ruckelshaus said he resigned.

Finally, the President turned to Solicitor General Robert H. Bork, who by law becomes acting Attorney General when the Attorney General and deputy attorney general are absent, and he carried out the President's order to fire Cox. The letter from the President to Bork also said Ruckelshaus resigned.

These dramatic developments were announced at the White House at 8:25 p.m. after Cox had refused to accept or comply with the terms of an agreement worked out by the President and the Senate Watergate committee under which summarized material from the White House Watergate tapes would be turned over to Cox and the Senate committee.

In announcing the plan Friday night, the President ordered Cox to make no further effort to obtain tapes or other presidential documents.

Cox responded that he could not comply with the President's instructions and elaborated on his refusal and vowed to pursue the tape recordings at a televised news conference yesterday.




Cartoons by Don Wright.
Miami News, Oct. 23, 1973.
(Click all images to enlarge.)

Miami News, Oct. 24, 1973.

Miami News, Oct. 29, 1973.


________



On Nov. 17, 1973, less than a month after firing Cox, Nixon made his famous "I am not a crook" remark in Orlando: "[I]n all of my years of public life I have never obstructed justice [...] People have got to know whether or not their President is a crook. Well, I'm not a crook."

Nixon Tells Editors, 'I'm Not a Crook'

By Carroll Kilpatrick
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, November 18, 1973; Page A01

Orlando, Fla, Nov. 17 -- Declaring that "I am not a crook," President Nixon vigorously defended his record in the Watergate case tonight and said he had never profited from his public service.

"I have earned every cent. And in all of my years of public life I have never obstructed justice," Mr. Nixon said.

"People have got to know whether or not their President is a crook. Well, I'm not a crook. I've earned everything I've got."

In an hour-long televised question-and-answer session with 400 Associated Press managing editors, Mr. Nixon was tense and sometimes misspoke. But he maintained his innocence in the Watergate case and promised to supply more details on his personal finances and more evidence from tapes and presidential documents.





Miami News, Nov 20, 1973.



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