The Stennis Compromise was a legal maneuver attempted by U.S. President Richard Nixon on October 19, 1973 during the Watergate scandal.

The Compromise was offered by Nixon to Archibald Cox, the special prosecutor who was appointed by the Justice Department to investigate the events surrounding the Watergate break-in of June 17, 1972. It was made in response to a subpoena requesting, as evidence, copies of taped conversations which Nixon had made in the Oval Office. After an initial refusal to comply on the grounds of executive privilege, Nixon offered to remit the tapes to a respected U.S. Senator, John C. Stennis, a Democrat from Mississippi. Sen. Stennis would listen to the tapes himself, then summarize the tapes for the special prosecutor's office. The explanation was that Stennis would be sensitive to matters of national security contained within, but it is believed that President Nixon did not want the tapes entered into the public record because they contained recordings of Nixon using coarse language and racial epithets, and - preeminently - implicating himself in the "cover-up" surrounding the Watergate break-in. Stennis was famously hard-of-hearing. Cox refused the compromise that evening. Nixon's response was to fire the special prosecutor the next day, in a chain of events later known as the "Saturday Night Massacre".[1][2]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Kutler, S. : The Wars of Watergate, page 402-405. Alfred A. Knopf, 1990
  2. Bernstein, C. and Woodward, B. : The Final Days, page 62-71. Simon and Schuster, 1976.
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