Q&A: William Ruckelshaus ’55 on the Watergate ScandalBreaking News
On Oct. 20, 1973, the so-called Saturday Night Massacre propelled the Watergate scandal into a true constitutional crisis. Confronted with an order from President Richard Nixon to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox, both Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus ’55 resigned. Although Solicitor General Robert Bork fired Cox, a public outcry forced Nixon to appoint a new special prosecutor, and the House of Representatives soon began impeachment hearings, which led to Nixon’s resignation. Ruckelshaus is the last surviving participant in that drama.
Did you have any hesitation about resigning?
No, I honestly didn’t. It seemed to me that what the president was asking us to do was fundamentally wrong. I had worked with Cox when I was acting director of the FBI [from April to June 1973], and he could not have been more cooperative.
What I did was mandated by my oath of office. You don’t resign for light and transient reasons. There has to be some fundamental wrong that the president is asking you to commit before you do that. Firing Cox seemed to fit right within that category....
comments powered by Disqus
- How Will Obama Be Graded By History?
- The controversy behind the painting that will hang at Trump’s inaugural luncheon
- A nation of dissent: The most famous inaugural protests in U.S. history
- German Rightwing Populist's Holocaust Remarks Denounced
- Arizona scuttles bill that took aim at whiteness studies
- Obama’s Legacy as a Historian
- Jack Rakove tells League of Women Voters Electoral College needs to be abolished
- Juan Cole says Chelsea Manning’s leaks contributed to the revolution in Tunisia
- Bacevich and Mearsheimer on Obama’s Legacy
- Where Historians Work: An Interactive Database of History PhD Career Outcomes