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Why rush? drawing by Charles Brooks, October 31, 1973

A cartoonist speculated that the Democratic-controlled Congress might delay approval of President Richard Nixon’s vice-presidential nominee Gerald Ford to replace Spiro Agnew. House Speaker Carl Albert, a Democrat, would succeed to the presidency if Nixon was removed from office without a vice president. But Albert had no presidential ambitions, and Congress quickly confirmed Ford’s nomination.

Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

Why rush?

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