The Proceedings against Richard M. Nixon



It would be just over a century after the failed impeachment of President Andrew Johnson that formal impeachment proceedings were instituted against another president, Richard M. Nixon. The impetus for impeachment was not dormant during that time, however.


Attorney General High Crime Presidential Campaign Grand Jury Judiciary Committee 
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  1. 3.
    On January 13,1913, Circuit Judge Robert W. Archbald became only the third federal official to be convicted by the Senate following impeachment by the House. Archbald was convicted of five of the thirteen articles lodged against him by the House. Two of the articles charged that Archbald had acquired properties from railroads and other companies that had cases pending in the Commerce Court on which he served. One article charged that Archbald had received $500 from a friend on whose behalf Archbald had attempted, unsuccessfully, to secure a lease of property from a coal company. The fourth article on which he was convicted charged that Archbald had improper ex parte communications with a litigant in a case pending in his court. The fifth article alleged a pattern of self-dealing over the entire course of his eleven-year judicial career. Archbald’s acquittal on the other articles appears to have resulted from the view of some senators that Archbald was not subject to impeachment for acts committed while he was a district judge prior his appointment to the Circuit Court. Bushnell, Crimes, Follies, and Misfortunes, 217–242. One of Archibald’s attorneys in the trial before the Senate, Alexander Simpson, published the brief he had prepared for Judge Archbald, which he titled, A Treatise on Federal Impeachments. In his treatise, Simpson concluded with respect to high crimes and misdemeanors that “notwithstanding the interesting arguments to the contrary,… the House in prosecuting and the Senate in trying impeachments are not limited to offenses which are indictable.” Nevertheless, Simpson argued that “the offence must be one of a serious character” and although not necessarily indictable, impeachable offenses “must be of such a ‘high’ character as might properly be made criminal, and must be one against the United States.” Further, Simpson wrote, “the offense must be one in some way affecting the administration of the office from which it is sought to exclude the offender.” Although in Simpson’s view, it was not necessary that the offense be committed in the performance of the office, “the character of the offence, or that which flows there from, must tend to bring the office… into ignominy and disgrace.” Alexander Simpson, A Treatise on Federal Impeachments (Philadelphia: Law Association of Philadelphia, 1916) 49–53.Google Scholar
  2. 8.
    The first attempt to impeach Justice Douglas was in June 1953 after he had granted a stay of the execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who had been convicted of espionage for procuring information concerning the atomic bomb for the Soviet Union. Despite vacation of the stay by the Supreme Court, Congressman William M. Wheeler pressed for impeachment on the grounds that Douglas’ loyalty to “left-wing so-called liberals” had resulted in conduct unbecoming a justice that tended to bring the court into disrepute; moral turpitude (Douglas had been named a correspondent in adultery); conspiracy; and treason. Congressional Record, vol. 99,83rd Cong., 1st Sess. (1953) 7586–7589. No action was taken on Wheeler’s proposed resolution. William O. Douglas, The Court Years 1939–1975 (New York: Random House, 1980) 78–82.Google Scholar
  3. 9.
    Ibid., 11913; Walter Ehrlich, Presidential Impeachment: An American Dilemma (Saint Charles: Forum Press, 1974) 91–92.Google Scholar
  4. 10.
    Richard Reeves, President Nixon: Alone in the White House (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2001) 11–12.Google Scholar
  5. 11.
    Theodore H. White, Breach of Faith: The Fall of Richard Nixon (New York: Atheneum, 1975) 62.Google Scholar
  6. 12.
    See Vanmik D. Volkan, Norman Itzkowitz, and Andrew W Dod, Richard Nixon: A Psychobiography (New York: Columbia UP, 1997) 91Google Scholar
  7. Stanley I. Kutler, The War of Watergate: The Last Crisis of Richard Nixon (New York: Norton, 1990) 617Google Scholar
  8. Fawn M. Brodie, Richard Nixon: The Shaping of his Character (Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1983) 23–25Google Scholar
  9. David Abrahamson, Nixon v. Nixon: An Emotional Tragedy (New York: Farrar, 1977) 34Google Scholar
  10. James David Barber, The Presidential Character: Predicting Performance in the White House (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1972) 347.Google Scholar
  11. 13.
    Brodie, Richard Nixon: The Shaping of His Character, 37; Stephen E. Ambrose, Nixon: The Education of Politician (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1987) 34–84.Google Scholar
  12. 23.
    Ibid., 152; Fred Emery, Watergate: The Corruption of American Politics and the Fall of Richard Nixon (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995) 25.Google Scholar
  13. 24.
    David Rudenstine, The Day the Presses Stopped (Berkeley: California UP, 1996) 20–27Google Scholar
  14. Sanford S. Ungar, The Papers and the Papers: An Account of the Legal and Political Battle over the Pentagon Papers (New York: Dutton, 1972) 19–31.Google Scholar
  15. 28.
    Keith W. Olson: Watergate: The Presidential Scandal that Shook America (Lawrence: Kansas UP, 2003) 18.Google Scholar
  16. 29.
    Kutler, The Wars of Watergate, 112. According to Charles W. Colson, special counsel to the president, creation of the Plumbers was “the pivotal moment…when we crossed the line.” Leon Friedman and William F. Levantrosser, eds., Watergate and Afterward (Westport: Greenwood Press, 1992) 87–88.Google Scholar
  17. 30.
    Report No. 93–1305, 158–161; Kutler, The Wars of Watergate, 112; Olson, Watergate, 18–19; Emery, Watergate: The Corruption of American Politics. At the time of their arrest following the Watergate burglary, Colson described both Hunt and Liddy as “good healthy right wing exuberants.” Stanley I. Kutler, ed., Abuse of Power: The New Nixon Tapes (New York: Free Press, 1997) 43.Google Scholar
  18. 130.
    James D. St. Clair and Charles Alan Wright, ‘An Analysis of the Constitutional Standard for Presidential Impeachment’ (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1974) 32Google Scholar
  19. 159.
    Charles L. Black, Jr., Impeachment: A Handbook (New Haven: Yale UP, 1974) 33–37.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© H. Lowell Brown 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.FalmouthUSA

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