Skip to main content
Year
1974
Month Day
July 30

Watergate affair approaches climax

Under coercion from the U.S. Supreme Court, President Richard M. Nixon releases subpoenaed White House recordings—suspected to prove his guilt in the Watergate scandal—to special prosecutor Leon Jaworski. The same day, the House Judiciary Committee voted a third article of impeachment against the president: contempt of Congress in hindering the impeachment process. The previous two impeachment articles voted against Nixon by the committee were obstruction of justice and abuse of presidential powers.

READ MORE: The Watergate Scandal: A Timeline

On June 17, 1972, five men, including a salaried security coordinator for President Nixon’s reelection committee, were arrested for breaking into and illegally wiretapping the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington, D.C.’s Watergate complex. Soon after, two other former White House aides were implicated in the break-in, but the Nixon administration denied any involvement. Later that year, reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward of The Washington Post discovered a higher-echelon conspiracy surrounding the incident, and a political scandal of unprecedented magnitude erupted.

On May 17, 1973, the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities, headed by Senator Sam Ervin of North Carolina, began televised proceedings on the rapidly escalating Watergate affair. One week later, Harvard Law professor Archibald Cox was sworn in as special Watergate prosecutor. During the Senate hearings, former White House legal counsel John Dean testified that the Watergate break-in had been approved by former Attorney General John Mitchell, with the knowledge of White House advisers John Ehrlichman and H.R. Haldeman, and that President Nixon had been aware of the cover-up. Meanwhile, Watergate prosecutor Cox and his staff began to uncover widespread evidence of political espionage by the Nixon re-election committee, illegal wiretapping of thousands of citizens by the administration, and contributions to the Republican Party in return for political favors.

In July, the existence of what were to be called the Watergate tapes–official recordings of White House conversations between Nixon and his staff–was revealed during the Senate hearings. Cox subpoenaed these tapes, and after three months of delay President Nixon agreed to send summaries of the recordings. Cox rejected the summaries, and Nixon fired him. His successor as special prosecutor, Leon Jaworski, leveled indictments against several high-ranking administration officials, including Mitchell and Dean, who were duly convicted.

READ MORE: Watergate: Who Did What and Where Are They Now 

Public confidence in the president rapidly waned, and by the end of July 1974 the House Judiciary Committee had adopted three articles of impeachment against President Nixon. On July 30, under coercion from the Supreme Court, Nixon finally released the Watergate tapes. On August 5, transcripts of the recordings were released, including a segment in which the president was heard instructing Haldeman to order the FBI to halt the Watergate investigation. Four days later, Nixon became the first president in U.S. history to resign. On September 8, his successor, President Gerald Ford, pardoned him from any criminal charges.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

The Troggs take their signature hit, “Wild Thing,” to #1

If there is one song that has been played more times by more bands in more garages than any ever written, it is probably “Louie Louie,” The Kingsmen’s classic 1966 hit. But if any other song warrants a place in the conversation, it would be “Wild Thing,” the three-chord ...read more

USS Indianapolis torpedoed

On July 30, 1945, the USS Indianapolis is torpedoed by a Japanese submarine and sinks within minutes in shark-infested waters. Only 316 of the 1,196 men on board survived. However, the Indianapolis had already completed its major mission: the delivery of key components of the ...read more

First legislative assembly in America convenes in Jamestown

In Jamestown, Virginia, the first elected legislative assembly in the New World—the House of Burgesses—convenes in the choir of the town’s church. Earlier that year, the London Company, which had established the Jamestown settlement 12 years before, directed Virginia Governor Sir ...read more

President Johnson signs Medicare into law

On July 30, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signs Medicare, a health insurance program for elderly Americans, into law. At the bill-signing ceremony, which took place at the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri, former President Harry Truman was enrolled as Medicare’s first ...read more

Hitler gets news of Italy’s imminent defection

On July 30, 1943, Adolf Hitler learns that Axis ally Italy is buying time before negotiating surrender terms with the Allies in light of Mussolini’s fall from power. Hitler had feared that such a turn of events was possible, if not probable. Hitler had come to Italy on July 19 to ...read more

Caitlyn Jenner wins Olympic decathlon

On July 30, 1976, American Caitlyn Jenner—who was competing as Bruce Jenner—wins gold in the men's decathlon at the Montreal Olympics. Jenner's 8,617 points set a world record in the event. The secret to Jenner’s success was preparation. In the 1970s, most decathletes trained ...read more

GettyImages-563958575 16x9

President Eisenhower signs “In God We Trust” into law

On July 30, 1956, two years after pushing to have the phrase “under God” inserted into the pledge of allegiance, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs a law officially declaring “In God We Trust” to be the nation’s official motto. The law, P.L. 84-140, also mandated that the ...read more

"The Blair Witch Project" released in theaters

On July 30, 1999, The Blair Witch Project, a low-budget, independent horror film that will become a massive cult hit, is released in U.S. theaters. Shot with shaky, handheld cameras, the documentary-style movie told the story of three student filmmakers who disappeared into the ...read more

Fighter jet collides with passenger plane

A mid-air collision between a Boeing 727 and a fighter jet in Japan kills 162 people on July 30, 1971. The military plane was flying without radar. All Nippon Airways Flight 58 was traveling from Chitose Airport in Hokkaido to Tokyo, filled largely with members of a group ...read more

Man charged in murder of Megan Kanka

Jesse Timmendequas is charged with the murder of seven-year-old Megan Kanka in New Jersey. Kanka’s death inspired Megan’s Law, a statute enacted in 1994 requiring that information about convicted sex felons be available to the public. Versions of Megan’s Law have been passed in ...read more

Union forces stopped at the Battle of the Crater

On July 30, 1864, at the Battle of the Crater, the Union’s ingenious attempt to break the Confederate lines at Petersburg, Virginia, by blowing up a tunnel that had been dug under the Rebel trenches fails. Although the explosion created a gap in the Confederate defenses, a poorly ...read more

Last classic VW Beetle rolls off the line

On July 30, 2003, the last of 21,529,464 Volkswagen Beetles built since World War II rolls off the production line at Volkswagen’s plant in Puebla, Mexico. One of a 3,000-unit final edition, the baby-blue vehicle was sent to a museum in Wolfsburg, Germany, where Volkswagen is ...read more