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1974: President Nixon to resign from office

Richard Nixon has announced he is stepping down as president of the United States - the first man ever to do so.

He has announced his departure in the face of an imminent impeachment trial - and possible removal from office - over the Watergate affair.

The president broke the news of his resignation in a television broadcast from the White House on Thursday at 2100 local time. It will take effect from noon tomorrow.

Mr Nixon, 61, said initially he had believed it was his duty to complete his term of office despite the Watergate charges.

"In the past days, however, it has become evident that I no longer have a strong enough political base in the Congress to justify continuing that effort," he said.

"As president I must put the interests of America first."

Successor

Mr Nixon has been charged by the House Judiciary Committee with "high crimes and misdemeanours".

The charges stem from a 1972 break-in at the offices of the Democratic National Committee in the Watergate complex.

The break-in, during that year's election campaign, was traced to members of a Nixon-support group, the Committee to Re-elect the President (CREEP).

Tape recordings have shown the president subsequently tried to influence the police investigation into the crime.

Mr Nixon is leaving office with more than two years of his second term left to run.

In his address Mr Nixon said he would be succeeded by US vice-president Gerald Ford.

Mr Ford will be sworn in as the 38th president of the United States tomorrow.

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Watch/Listen
Richard Nixon at his desk in the White House
President Nixon fought to stay in office

President Nixon addresses the nation for the last time



In Context
Richard Nixon's resignation meant he avoided an impeachment trial and therefore being removed from office.

His successor, President Gerald Ford, issued an unconditional pardon in September 1974 for any offences Mr Nixon might have committed as president, saving him from possible prosecution.

But the five Watergate burglars and two co-plotters - former White House staff G. Gordon Liddy and Howard Hunt - were jailed.

In total 40 government officials were either indicted or jailed.

Richard Nixon eventually re-established himself as a respected statesman. He died in 1994.

In June 2005, former FBI deputy head Mark Felt was revealed to be the anonymous source "Deep Throat", who helped Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein uncover the Watergate affair.

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