By: Scott RossPublished: October 20, 2022

Richard Nixon

Archibald Cox was hired in May of 1973 as Special Prosecutor for the Department of Justice to oversee the investigation into President Richard Nixon's involvement in the Watergate break-in, but only after several other people had turned down the job offer from Attorney General Elliot L. Richardson because, really, the whole situation stank to high heaven and who honestly believed that a person in such a position would be permitted to act independently?

Well, as spring turned to summer and summer into fall, Nixon found the walls were closing in. Cox had learned of Nixon's secret recordings made on conversations in the Oval Office and demanded they be turned over. Nixon told Cox on October 17 to pound sand and a struggle ensued, with the president proposing that Dixiecrat Senator John C. Stennis be allowed to listen to and summarize the tapes--Cox was having none of it. With the two sides at a standstill, Nixon went full HAM.

On October 20, 1973, Nixon went first to Attorney General Richardson and then Deputy Attorney General William D. Ruckelshaus, instructing each man to fire Cox. When they refused, he fired them. Nixon then turned to his oven-fresh Acting Attorney General Robert Bork, and gave him the same order, with which Bork complied, thus completing the DoJ purge forever known as The Saturday Night Massacre.

Ten months later, the jig was up and Nixon resigned as president.

Amusingly, fourteen years later, when then President Ronald Reagan nominated Bork to the Supreme Court, Bork whined that he got ''a little tired of (Cox's firing) being portrayed as the only thing I ever did."

Funnier still, in the wake of President Donald Trump relieving James Comey of his post as Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigations, the comms team at the Nixon Library couldn't resist.


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