The Republican president decided to resign before being removed by Congress. His story revives today with an entrenched Donald Trump.
The story of espionage, lies and tapes uncovered by the young and sagacious reporters of The Washington Post Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, following a striking assault on the headquarters of the National Committee of the Democratic Party in Washington in June 1972, exposed one of the foul play practices in which American politics had been installed for several years. decades.
The scandal was born Watergate –The name of the complex where these offices were located–, a case of espionage that despite being but one more of the usual tricks between both parties and even within them ended with the resignation of the president Richard Nixon when he was threatened by the opening of an impeachment process that would end up ousting him from the White House in a very dishonorable way.
Nixon had already become president in 1968 thanks to a much worse ruse that of Watergate and that was revealed years later: convincing the South Vietnamese government to withdraw from the peace negotiating table that the Democratic Executive chaired by Lyndon Johnson had promoted.
Despite possessing the recordings that demonstrate Nixon’s bad arts – of dubious judicial use, but of high political value – and that would ultimately cost the lives of 20,000 more Americans in Vietnam, the then president did not reveal what could have been considered high treason for reasons that still remain a mystery.
The strange race to the presidency of Nixon did not end there: the already decided withdrawal from the electoral contest in the Democratic Party of Johnson, who in the New Hampshire primary proved the punishment for the evolution of the Vietnam War, was succeeded by the assassination of Robert Kennedy after his victory in the California primaries and a controversial split of the party led by a segregationist sector led by George Wallace, which created the Independent Party.
Wallace ran for president in opposition to both Nixon and Vice President Hubert Humphrey, the designated Democratic nominee, only to win in five southern states and steal votes from his former party across the country.
Watergate erupted in the final stretch of a comfortable first term for Nixon in which his Administration managed to get the withdrawal from Vietnam and the publications of The Washington Post they hardly affected his reputation. To the point that, just five months after the scandal broke, he starred in the most resounding victory for the presidency, beating the Democratic candidate, George McGovern, in 49 states.
Logically, it was not a clean campaign: McGovern was accused of unbalanced – the same, by the way, that Lyndon Johnson had done at the time with the Republican candidate Barry Goldwater – and the revelations about the income in a mental health center of his first ticket member, Thomas Eagleton, they forced the Democratic candidacy to change its vice presidential candidate.
However, the trial in the Watergate case aroused media interest that brought the matter to the entire national press, the Senate was forced to open an investigation and Nixon reacted through a high-ranking purge that would end up being his undoing when he opened a cascade of accusations against him and when his obstruction of the investigation was revealed.
Left to his own devices by his own party, Nixon ended up facing the opening of a process of impeachment that he saw lost. Given this, he decided to resign in favor of his vice president, Gerald Ford, and announced it in a speech in which he did not hide his frustration.
“In all the decisions that I have made throughout my public life, I have always tried to do what I believed best for our nation,” said the Republican from the White House on August 8, 1974.
Through the long and difficult Watergate process, I have believed that it was my duty to persevere, to make every effort to complete the term for which I have been elected. In the past few days, however, it has become clear that I do not have enough political support in Congress to justify such an effort, “he admitted.
I’ve never been a person to give up easily. Leaving the presidency before my term ends is something I deeply abhor from the depths of my soul. But as president I must put the interests of the United States first, “he confided, before confirming that he was leaving the command in the hands of his vice.
By Ramón Alvarez, La Vanguardia