By the time the contents of the “smoking gun” tape were made public and revealed beyond doubt his guilty role in covering up the seminal crime of the Watergate scandal, President Richard Nixon was probably doomed, politically.
The scandal — which broke in June 1972 when burglars linked to his reelection campaign were arrested inside Democratic National headquarters — was after two years of periodic disclosures pointing to Nixon’s impeachment and almost-certain conviction and removal.
The release of the so-called “smoking gun” tape in early August 1974 removed all questions about Nixon’s continuing in office. What remained of his political support evaporated. Most memorably, Congressman Charles E. Wiggins, who was among Nixon’s most ardent backers, said the tape’s content led him to the ”painful conclusion” that Nixon should leave the presidency.
He did so August 9, 1974 (and not because of the reporting by the Washington Post; the newspaper’s crucial role in Watergate is a media-driven myth).
But not even Nixon among U.S. presidents experienced such an abrupt loss of authority and political power as has Donald Trump in the past 30 hours or so, since hundreds of his supporters marched from a rally to the Capitol and forced their way in — ostensibly to protest irregularities and anomalies in the November presidential election.
The assault came as Congress was meeting to certify Joe Biden’s election victory.