In more than three thousand recorded conversations, the Nixon tapes famously exposed a president’s sinister views of governance that would eventually lead to his downfall. Despite Richard Nixon’s best efforts, his vision of a government where he could use his power to punish his political enemies never came to fruition because there were those in his party who defied the president’s directives. While many are familiar with the Republicans who turned against Nixon during the final stages of the Watergate saga, They Said No to Nixon uncovers for the first time those within the administration—including Nixon’s own appointees—who opposed the White House early on, quietly blocking the president’s attacks on the IRS, the Justice Department, and other sectors of the federal government.
Culling from previously unpublished excerpts from the tapes and recently released materials that expose the thirty-seventh president’s uncensored views, Michael Koncewicz reveals how several Republican party members remained loyal to their roles as civil servants in the face of Nixon’s attempts to expand the imperial presidency. Delving into the culture of criminality surrounding Watergate and showing why it did not succeed, They Said No to Nixon sheds light on the significant cultural and ideological shifts that occurred within the GOP during the pivotal 1970s. To this day, the Nixon tapes are a bracing reminder of the threat to constitutional order posed by a president who wields power without restraint.
Michael Koncewicz is the Cold War Collections Specialist at the Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives at New York University. He previously worked for the National Archives at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum.