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Draft Statement of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, by Representative Carl Albert of Oklahoma, October 1973

Speaker of the House Carl Albert was second in line to the presidency, after the vice president. When Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned in October 1973, Albert referred resolutions on the president’s impeachment to the House Committee on the Judiciary. He wanted to follow established protocols and preferred that a new vice president be in office before the House voted on impeachment.

Carl Albert Papers Collection, Carl Albert Center, University of Oklahoma

Draft Statement of the Speaker of the House of Representatives

Congress Confronts President Richard Nixon

Burglars broke into the Democratic National Committee’s offices at the Watergate building in Washington, D.C. in June of 1972, an incident that would erupt into a constitutional crisis over the next two years. Evidence linking the intruders with President Richard Nixon’s reelection committee led to a Senate investigation, which confirmed White House ties to the break-in and revealed Nixon’s attempts to interfere with the investigation. The investigation led to a historic confrontation between the legislative and executive branches, with the House Committee on the Judiciary voting to impeach Nixon.

The Framers confined in the Congress the power if need be to remove the President in order to strike a delicate balance between a President . . . grown tyrannical and preservation of the independence of the Executive. The nature of impeachment is a narrow . . . exception to the separation of powers maxim.

Representative Barbara Jordan of Texas, Statement on the Articles of Impeachment of President Richard Nixon, July 25, 1974