August 8 - 1974 - The Resignation of President Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon believed he could fight against the various investigations into the Watergate scandal. Then the "smoking gun tape" was revealed to the public. This was a tape of Nixon talking to his Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman on June 23, 1972, about covering up the President's role in the break-in to the Democratic National Committee's headquarters in the Watergate Complex. The public knowledge of Nixon planning a cover up made his position untenable. Yet Nixon's resignation was really the culmination of two years of investigation. First, the Watergate burglars were sentenced to prison. Then, the Senate began an investigation into the President's role, and a Special Counsel was appointed. When President Nixon sought to fire Special Counsel Archibald Cox, he went through multiple officials at the Justice Department in what was known as the "Saturday Night Massacre." Despite forcing the resignation of his Attorney General, Nixon seemed to be able to survive impeachment proceedings. Then everyone heard the "smoking gun tape," and Republican leaders in Congress told the President he had lost support. With this information, Nixon decided it was best he resign.