This eyewitness account of the impeachment process against Richard Nixon—which historian Robert Dallek wrote "could not be more timely"—holds lessons for now.
James Reston, Jr., took leave from teaching during the summer of 1973 to witness the Senate Watergate Committee hearings as he worked with his coauthor on what became the first full-length book to advocate for Richard Nixon's impeachment. During the following summer, he returned to Washington, DC, to witness the final act of the impeachment drama, attending the Watergate trials, Supreme Court deliberations over executive privilege, and House Judiciary Committee hearings to consider and eventually vote on articles of impeachment. In the exciting days after the smoking gun tape was revealed, Reston joined the throng of reporters at the White House, hungry for news of Nixon's response.
When he arrived in Washington, he decided to keep a diary. The Impeachment Diary is his contemporaneous account of those heady, uncertain times: when a president, having been investigated by a special counsel and Congress, was called to account for acts contrary to his oath and office, and fundamental questions about the Constitution were engaged. The diary offers lessons—both insights and cautions—for our own time. Former solicitor general of the United States and constitutional scholar Walter Dellinger has provided an introduction discussing the nature and meaning of impeachment and helping to draw the links between then and now.
James Reston, Jr. was an assistant to Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall before serving in the US Army from 1965 to 1968. He is the bestselling author of seventeen books— including The Conviction of Richard Nixon: The Untold Story of the Frost/Nixon Interviews, which helped inspire the film Frost/Nixon (2008)— three plays, and numerous articles in The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, and the New York Times Magazine. He won the Prix Italia and Dupont-Columbus Award for his NPR radio documentary, Father Cares: The Last of Jonestown. He lives with his wife in Chevy Chase, Maryland.