On this day in 1972, President Richard Nixon’s advisor, H.R. Haldeman, tells the president to put pressure on the head of the FBI to “stay the hell out of this [Watergate burglary investigation] business.” In essence, Haldeman was telling Nixon to obstruct justice, which is one of the articles Congress threatened to impeach Nixon for in 1974.
In audio tapes of that day’s conversation in the Oval Office, Haldeman tells Nixon that the press and FBI investigators have come close to linking the men who burglarized the Democratic National Committee headquarters in 1972, housed in the Watergate building, to the White House. They specifically mention funds diverted to the burglars, many of whom were Cuban, by members of Nixon’s re-election committee.
Nixon tells Haldeman to tell the FBI that the funds in question were intended for the CIA and concocted a story about covert plans regarding communist Cuba. “Don t lie to them,” said Nixon, “to the extent to say there’s no involvement [on the part of the president] but just say this is sort of a comedy of errors, bizarre, without getting into it.”
The tapes of the hour-and-a-half conversation between Nixon and Haldeman eventually brought the down the Nixon administration and led to his resignation in August 1974. They were considered the “smoking gun” which proved Nixon’s role in obstructing justice during the Watergate investigation.