Weekend Of The Long Knives – April 23, 1973
. . . or click on the link here for Audio Player – NBC News – April 23, 1973 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection
A busy and dramatic day, this April 23rd in 1973.
Watergate was the focus. And rumors, accusations, revelations and finger-pointing at the highest of places swirled all over Washington as the scandal continued and deepened, becoming a grave crisis for President Nixon.
Despite a tight lid being kept over the goings-on at The White House, leaks abounded. With news that the real reason for John Mitchell’s abrupt departure after news of the Watergate break-in surfaced, had nothing to do with his claim of doing it to spend more time with his wife and family, but had everything to do with the Watergate matter.
Sources at the Associated Press went on to say that the White House mounted an elaborate cover-up of the affair, designed to shield some of the highest-ranking members of the Nixon Administration. There was evidence that the President’s Chief-Of-Staff, H.R. Haldeman was involved, along with John Ehrlichman. The story goes on to say White House officials attempted to pressure the FBI and the Justice Department to “go slow” in the Watergate investigation. That Attorney General Richard Kleindienst personally asked the prosecutor to go slow. However, the Justice Department vigorously denied the accusations. The story went on to say there would be many more resignations coming from the White House staff shortly. Additionally, the AP indicated the President may not have known about the Watergate bugging, until after the Police arrested the 7 burglars. But there was no question Nixon knew of the coverup operation, which may prove to be the most damning accusation of all.
Reports that John Mitchell resigned as Nixon’s Campaign Manager two weeks after the arrests at the Watergate were found not to be true. At the time, Mitchell said he was quitting in order to spend more time with his wife Martha and his family. It was later learned those reports were fabricated and that Mitchell had resigned because of the Watergate break-in. Fearing the Watergate case would blow up and prove to be an embarrassment for President Nixon, the source went on to say Mitchell told the President when he resigned and that Nixon knew it. Mitchell called the claims false.
Indictments and more resignations, along with more startling revelations were sure to be coming in the days and weeks ahead.
In other news – The State Department disclosed that North Vietnamese troops were still playing an important role in the fighting in Cambodia. However, there were official indications that no identifiable North Vietnamese units were in Cambodia, which could strengthen arguments there was no legal basis for U.S. operations there. But the State Department insisted the North Vietnamese were giving aid to the Cambodian insurgents.
President Nixon’s Foreign Affairs Adviser Henry Kissinger addressed a gathering in New York earlier in the day, and said it was a brutal fact that North Vietnam had systematically and cynically broken all the pledges it made in the cease-fire.
News regarding the Pop-Culture phenomenon book Jonathan Livingstone Seagull which had already sold some 5 million copies was taking attention away from the more pressing matters of the day . A lot of people liked it – a lot of people didn’t and the Church was chiming in on its supposedly controversial subject matter. The fact that it was on the New York Times Best Seller List as both Fiction and Non-Fiction didn’t help matters – and everyone seemed to have an opinion on it – and there was a movie in the works.
And that’s a little of what went on, April 23rd 1973 as reported by NBC News.