Richard Nixon's Abuse Of Executive Privilege In Watergate

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harm that could be caused by the revelation of that information. It is extraordinarily easy for any president to attempt to abuse executive privilege. Herman Wolkinson went as far as to say that the President holds an “uncontrolled discretion” regarding what actually constitutes public interest when deciding whether or not to provide information (1949, 340). The court in this case serves as a sort of stand in for the public to judge whether or not the information may be withheld. There is more than just George Washington’s precedent, however, as there is a rich history of both the abuse and proper use of executive privilege by multiple presidents. Dwight D. Eisenhower was the president that changed the nature of executive privilege. Schlesinger…show more content…
On June 17, 1972, a group of men from a private security firm broke into the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate building with eavesdropping devices in hand. These men were caught red-handed and were eventually linked to the White House. In the aftermath, it was revealed that Nixon’s reelection committee (CREEP) paid the men who were caught to keep quiet about the scandal. While Nixon was never directly implicated in the break-in, much circumstantial evidence existed tying him to the coverup. Furthermore, there is plentiful evidence that he directed and helped participate in the ensuing cover-up. As Timothy Naftali notes, Nixon “didn’t have to order it precisely in order to be responsible” because Nixon gave the orders in such a way that there was no other way to carry them out (quoted in Dick Cavett’s Watergate). According to Stanley Kutler, Nixon participated in attempts to stymie the FBI investigation into the matter, “the payment of hush money” to those who were implicated, and attempts to stave off investigations by Congress (1997, 45). These actions were definitely not granted as powers of the president by the Constitution and as a result, can be considered to be a case of Nixon exercising presidential…show more content…
Mark J. Rozell points out that what made Nixon’s use and abuse of executive privilege so different from the presidents that came before him is his “Nixonian conception of executive privilege” (1992, 325) This conception consisted of three different concepts: that privilege can be used for “political expediency”, that it is limitless, and that it applies to any official in the Executive Branch (Rozell, 1992, 325). It is because of this reasoning that many of Nixon’s actions were an unconstitutional use of prerogative; the very foundational beliefs that they were based on are inherently unconstitutional. His desire for political expediency was an amplified image of the trend that was started by Roosevelt, in which members of the executive branch would deny all requests for information, with

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