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Watergate Committee Issues Subpoenas

Image: Senator Howard Baker and Senator Sam Ervin

When a former aide to President Richard Nixon revealed the existence of a White House taping system to the Senate Watergate Committee on July 16, 1973, the committee requested access to the tapes. The president refused, prompting the committee to vote unanimously on July 23, 1973, to subpoena recordings and related documents. When the president refused to comply with the subpoena, he created a constitutional crisis that ended with a landmark Supreme Court decision, United States v. Nixon (1974), requiring the president to relinquish the tapes and documents.

Listen to Chief Deputy Counsel Rufus Edmisten recall a phone call to the White House that commenced with an awkward slip of the tongue and his trip to the Executive Office Building to deliver the subpoena.