23.06.

1972: Nixon ordered the CIA to stop the FBI investigation

1972: Nixon ordered the CIA to stop the FBI investigation
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons/Nixon fields questions at a press conference, October 26, 1973

Story Highlights

  • Historical event
  • 23 June 1972
  • When the tape went public, it became clear that Nixon lied to the American people about his involvement in the scandal. Only three days after the publication of the tape, Nixon resigned as president.

On this day an audio tape with a conversation between President Nixon and his White House Chief of Staff H. R. Haldeman was recorded in the Oval Office of the White House. 

The recorded conversation clearly proves Nixon’s involvement in the Watergate scandal, so the American public dubbed the tape “Smoking Gun Tape“.

 The conversation took place a week after the fateful events which started the Watergate affair – the break in at the offices of Nixon rival Democratic Party at the Watergate complex in order to place listening devices.

The burglars were arrested and so began an investigation in which even the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) participated.

In the conversation, Haldeman firstly explained Nixon that “the FBI is not under control” and that the investigation “goes in some directions we don’t want it to go”. 

Haldeman therefore proposed to Nixon that the deputy CIA director Vernon Walters calls the current head of the FBI Patrick Gray and tells him something like: “Stay the hell out of this …this is ah, business here we don’t want you to go any further on it.” 

Nixon approved such a plan and said: “You call them in. Good. Good deal. Play it tough. That’s the way they play it and that’s the way we are going to play it.” 

When the tape became public, it became clear that Nixon lied to the American people about his involvement in the scandal. 

Only three days after the publication of the tape, Nixon resigned as president. Chief of Staff Haldeman spent 18 months in prison.

 

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