Historical Highlights

Vice President Spiro Agnew’s impeachment request

September 26, 1973
Vice President Spiro Agnew’s impeachment request Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
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Speaker Carl Albert, a Rhodes Scholar, served 30 years in the House of Representatives.
On this date, Speaker Carl Albert of Oklahoma denied Vice President Spiro Agnew’s request to commence an impeachment investigation into charges that he had received bribes from construction companies while serving as Governor of Maryland and as Vice President. Though odd, Agnew’s appeal had precedent: in 1826 Vice President John C. Calhoun had asked for and secured a House impeachment inquiry when he faced bribery charges. Agnew hoped that a House investigation would clear his name. After deliberating with House Democratic leaders and Parliamentarian Lewis Deschler, Speaker Albert declined. The Vice President’s request “relates to matters before the courts,” Albert determined. “In view of that fact I, as speaker, will not take any action . . . at this time.” Representative Bella Abzug of New York agreed, noting that the House needed to focus on whether or not President Richard M. Nixon committed impeachable crimes related to the Watergate break-in. On October 10, 1973, Agnew resigned the Vice Presidency and, as part of a bargain, pled no contest to a single charge of tax evasion.

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