Updated:
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Year
1973
Month Day
October 20

Watergate special prosecutor dismissed, starting "Saturday Night Massacre"

On October 20, 1973, solicitor General Robert Bork dismisses Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox; Attorney General Richardson and Deputy Attorney General Ruckelshaus resign in protest. 

Cox had conducted a detailed investigation of the Watergate break-in that revealed that the burglary was just one of many possible abuses of power by the Nixon White House. Nixon had ordered Richardson to fire Cox, but he refused and resigned, as did Ruckelshaus when Nixon then asked him to dismiss the special prosecutor. Bork agreed to fire Cox and an immediate uproar ensued. 

This series of resignations and firings became known as the Saturday Night Massacre and outraged the public and the media. Two days later, the House Judiciary Committee began to look into the possible impeachment of Nixon.

The Watergate scandal involved the bungled burglary of the offices of the Democratic National Committee in the Watergate apartment complex in Washington, D.C., on June 23, 1972. It was eventually learned that the cover-up went all the way to the White House; President Nixon, facing impeachment, resigned from the presidency in August 1974.

READ MORE: How Watergate Changed America’s Intelligence Laws

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