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Lot #6022
Watergate: Peter W. Rodino's Impeachment Hearing Gavel and a Resolution 803 Booklet Signed by (26) Members of the House Judiciary Committee

The impeachment hearings that resulted in the resignation of President Richard Nixon

Estimate: $3000+
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The impeachment hearings that resulted in the resignation of President Richard Nixon

Important group lot of three items relating to the Watergate scandal and the U.S. House Judiciary Committee that approved the impeachment against President Richard Nixon, including: a TLS from New Jersey Congressman Peter W. Rodino, who served as the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, a wooden gavel used by Rodino during the impeachment hearings, and a copy of the “Summary of Information” booklet from the Ninety-Third Congress for H. Res. 803, which is signed by 26 members of the House Judiciary Committee that voted to impeach Nixon.

Pete Rodino, a Democratic congressman from New Jersey, was largely unknown when he was thrust into the spotlight in 1974 as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee conducting the investigation into the Watergate break-in. Carlos Moorhead, a freshman Republican representing Glendale, California, was also on the committee. Not long after Nixon's resignation and the conclusion of the hearings, Rodino wrote the offered letter, gifting Moorhead with one of the wooden gavels used during the hearings. The letter, one page, 7 x 9, personal House of Representatives letterhead, December 4, 1974, in full: “Since we have shared an extraordinary experience in our country's history, I thought you might like, as a memento of those historic events, one of the gavels I used during the impeachment hearings.” The referenced wooden gavel, which measures 12″ in length, is annotated in black ink by Rodino on the handle, “For Carlos J. Moorhead, Peter W. Rodino,” who adds a date of July 27, 1974, the day the first article of impeachment against Nixon was passed.

The offered booklet, 177 pages, 5.75 x 9, containing the “Hearings Before the Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives, Ninety-Third Congress, Second Session, Pursuant to H. Res. 803,” dated July 19, 1974, is signed in ink and felt tip on the front cover and title page by 26 of the 38 members of the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, including:

Democrats (12): Peter Rodino (New Jersey), Chairman Jack Brooks (Texas), Robert W. Kastenmeier (Wisconsin), Don Edwards (California), Joshua Eilberg (Pennsylvania), Jerome R. Waldie (California), William L. Hungate (Missouri), Robert F. Drinan (Massachusetts), Ray Thornton (Arkansas), Elizabeth Holtzman (New York), Edward Mezvinsky (Iowa), and Barbara Jordan (Texas)

Republicans (14): Edward Hutchinson (Michigan), Henry P. Smith III (New York), Tom Railsback (Illinois), Robert McClory (Illinois), Charles E. Wiggins (California), David Dennis (Indiana), Hamilton ‘Ham’ Fish, Jr. (New York), Wiley Mayne (Iowa), Lawrence J. Hogan (Maryland), Delbert L. Latta (Ohio), Carlos J. Moorhead (California), Trent Lott (Mississippi), Joseph J. Maraziti (New Jersey), and Harold V. Froelich (Wisconsin)

On February 6, 1974, the United States House Committee on the Judiciary was authorized by Resolution 803 of the House ‘to investigate whether sufficient grounds exist for the House of Representatives to exercise its constitutional power to impeach Richard M. Nixon, President of the United States of America.’ The motion was carried by 410-4 and instructed the Committee to ‘report to the House of Representatives such resolutions, articles of impeachment, or other recommendations as it deems proper.’ On May 9, 1974, under the chairmanship of Peter Rodino, the Committee began public hearings to review the results of the Impeachment Inquiry staff's investigation.

The 38 members of the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee met in 1974 and eventually voted to submit three articles of impeachment to the full House. The House Judiciary Committee voted 27-11 on July 27, 1974, to recommend the first article of impeachment against the president: obstruction of justice. The second: abuse of power, and third: contempt of Congress articles were passed on July 29, 1974, and July 30, 1974, respectively. On August 20, 1974, the Committee would formally submit H. Rept. 93-1305, which included the text of the resolution impeaching President Nixon and setting forth articles of impeachment against him.

After the release of the ‘smoking gun’ tape — recorded only a few days after the break-in, it documented the initial stages of the coverup: Nixon and Haldeman meeting in the Oval Office and formulating a plan to block investigations by having the CIA falsely claim to the FBI that national security was involved — Nixon's support in Congress virtually collapsed. The 10 congressmen who voted against all three articles of impeachment in the House Judiciary Committee announced they would all support impeachment when the vote was taken in the full House.

On the night of August 7, 1974, Senators Barry Goldwater and Hugh Scott and Congressman John Jacob Rhodes met with Nixon in the Oval Office and told the president that he not only faced certain impeachment in the House but that there were enough votes in the Senate to convict and remove him. Goldwater and Scott told him that, at most, 15 Senators were willing to vote for acquittal. Realizing that he had no chance of staying in office, Nixon decided to resign. In a nationally televised address from the Oval Office on the evening of August 8, 1974, the president announced his resignation effective noon on August 9, 1974. In overall fine condition.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Remarkable Rarities
  • Dates: #669 - Ended September 23, 2023