The Saturday Night Massacre



Hey history lovers. I'm Mike Rosen with retro pod a show about the past rediscovered. Some of the historical events we cover on retro pod are moments instead of been lost to time forgotten both in details and an important and then there are the events events that stick with us as constant reminders of what history can teach us. This is one of those this is the story of the Saturday night massacre in nineteen seventy two five members of the committee to reelect President Richard Nixon had been caught breaking into the Democratic National Committee's offices at the Watergate hotel the next year a man named Archibald Cox was appointed when it as a special prosecutor to investigate the incident and determine whether the president had been involved in July Cox issued subpoena for secret recordings the president had made of his Oval Office Conversations Nixon refuse he invoked executive privilege to keep the tapes tapes private until finally months later the US Court of Appeals ruled that Nixon had to comply by then the rift between Nixon and the Justice Department had grown and it was clear the president wanted Cox gone and Nixon still didn't want to turn over the tapes why because the implicated him in a vast cover a few days. It's after the ruling. Nixon tried to broker a deal. He said he would not turn over all the tapes but instead would submit a summary of what was in the parts of the tapes related to Watergate Democratic Senator Within listen to the tapes verifying Nixon's Account Cox's answer nope in a statement published in newspapers on October nineteenth nineteen seventy-three Nixon blamed Cox for not accepting his proposal he called it reasonable compromise and ordered Cox to make no further attempts to obtain information on his conversations in response Cox Fox vowed to continue pursuing the tape recordings but Nixon had another more drastic plan to stop Cox from getting the tapes and put it into action the very next day that day a Saturday attorney general Elliot Elliot Richardson was summoned to the White House back at the Justice Department the Deputy Attorney General and three eighths huddled and Richardson's office. They knew why Richardson was being called all to the White House. He was the only one with the authority to fire Cox. Richardson went to the meeting. When he got back confirm their suspicions the president had ordered him to remove Cox. He refused Richardson was prepared to resign as attorney any general instead then the phone rang. It was White House Chief of Staff Alexander Alexander Haig Calling Deputy Attorney General William Ruggles House Richardson would not fight her 'cause it was now his responsibility to do also ruggles house refused and just like Richardson. He drafted resignation letter next in line with firing authority was. US Less Solicitor General Robert Bork he followed Nixon's orders and agreed to fire Cox Nixon won the special prosecutor was gone but the outcry was swift and loud the unprecedented shakeup at the Justice Justice Department became known as the Saturday night massacre and it triggered public and political backlash that accelerated Nixon's eventual downfall that fateful hateful Saturday night after it was all over Cox delivered a statement on national TV. He told the country whether ours shall continue can you to be a government of laws and not of men is now for Congress and ultimately the American people. I'm Mike Rosenfeld. Thanks for listening special. Thanks to Amy Wang for reporting the story for the Washington Post and for more forgotten stories from history visit Washington Post host dot com slash retro.

Coming up next