U.S. Vs. Nixon Michael and Ryan Fischer Watergate Scandal Major political scandal that occurred in the United States in the 1970s as a result of the June 17, 1972 break-in at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C. Scandal was a result of the Nixon administration’s attempted cover-up of its involvement. Watergate Scandal Continued The scandal led to the discovery of multiple abuses of power by the Nixon administration, articles of impeachment, and the resignation of Richard Nixon, the President of the United States, on August 9, 1974 The affair began with the arrest of five men for breaking and entering the DNC headquarters in the Watergate office complex on June 17, 1972 Watergate Scandal It was revealed that President Nixon had a tape-recording system in his offices and that he had recorded many conversations Government Investigators wanted to investigate the tapes but Nixon refused to turn them over, causing the issue to be taken to court Facts A grand jury returned indictments against seven of President Richard Nixon's closest aides in the Watergate affair The special prosecutor appointed by Nixon and the defendants sought audio tapes of conversations recorded by Nixon in the Oval Office Nixon asserted that he was immune from the subpoena claiming "executive privilege," which is the right to withhold information from other government branches to preserve confidential communications within the executive branch or to secure the national interest Issue Present Does the separation of powers created by the Constitution provide the President with an absolute power to withhold information from other branches of government? Also, If the power is not absolute, should President Nixon be able to claim executive privilege under the aforementioned circumstances? Does the separation of powers allow for the settlement of this dispute to reside in the executive branch or should it be settled by the judicial branch? Does the claim of executive privilege damage the precedent set by the 5th Amendment, which ensures due process? Parties: United States The President's power to claim executive privilege is not an absolute one. Executive privilege may not be invoked to deny the courts access to evidence needed in a criminal proceeding. This is a dispute that can properly be heard in the federal courts. United States Government Parties: Nixon The constitutional scheme of separation of powers grants to the President the privilege of withholding information from the other branches of government. Furthermore, this power is absolute, and it is vital where highlevel communications are involved. In addition, this dispute should be resolved within the executive branch, not by the courts. Court Jurisdiction The case was appealed and quickly found its way to the supreme court Nixon claimed that the tapes he was demanded to reveal were covered by “executive privilege”, which the District Court disagreed with causing Nixon to appeal the case The United States Federal Supreme Court had jurisdiction over the case because it involved the US constitution and United States cabinet members Decision Decision: 8 votes for United States, 0 vote(s) against Legal provision: US Const. Art. II Decision Continued The president was ordered to turn tapes over by May 31. Both Nixon and Jaworski appealed directly to the Supreme Court which heard arguments on July 8. Nixon's attorney argued the matter should not be subject to "judicial resolution" since the matter was a dispute within the executive branch and the branch should resolve the dispute itself. Also, he claimed Special Prosecutor Jaworski had not proven the requested materials were absolutely necessary for the trial of the seven men. Besides, he claimed Nixon had an absolute executive privilege to protect communications between "high Government officials and those who advise and assist them in carrying out their duties." Why is this a landmark case? First of all, it had to do with the President of the United States. Solved the issue over how much power the president really has, and showed that the president does not get any acceptions.