SAT Subject US History Practice Question 719: Answer and Explanation

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Question: 719

70. In the "smoking gun" tape, Richard Nixon discussed the possibility of asking the Central Intelligence Agency to stop the Federal Bureau of Investigation from investigating Watergate matters. In the language of the Articles of Impeachment against Nixon, this charge became

A. breaking and entering.
B. taping people without their knowledge.
C. firing the special prosecutor.
D. obstruction of justice.
E. lying to the American people.

Correct Answer: D


The "smoking gun" tape showed obstruction of justice because Nixon was trying to stop an investigation into wrongdoing. The Articles of Impeachment passed by the House Judiciary Committee were Obstruction of Justice (interfering with the investigation), Abuse of Power ("dirty tricks"), and the Defiance of Subpoenas (refusal to hand over the tapes). Breaking and entering (A) was a "dirty trick" and an abuse of power, but this was not part of the "smoking gun" tape. Taping people without their knowledge (B) and firing the special prosecutor (C) were not the "high crimes or misdemeanors" required by the Constitution to impeach a president. Lying to the American people (E) is not a crime.

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