In what has become probably the most memorable line uttered by President Nixon during the Watergate scandal, his assurance that he wasn't a crook came during a Press Conference given on this day, November 17, 1973.
Faced with mounting evidence and loss of credibility, Nixon kept pressing his defense of innocence to an increasingly skeptical audience, even among supporters.
President Nixon: “Now, I have no complaints. In the next 8 years, I made a lot of money. I made $250,000 from a book and the serial rights which many of you were good enough to purchase, also. In the practice of law--and I am not claiming I was worth it, but apparently former Vice Presidents or Presidents are worth a great deal to law firms--and I did work pretty hard.
But also in that period, I earned between $100,000 and $250,000 every year.
So that when I, in 1968, decided to become a candidate for President, I decided to clean the decks and to put everything in real estate. I sold all my stock for $300,000--that is all I owned. I sold my apartment in New York for $300,000--I am using rough figures here. And I had $100,000 coming to me from the law firm.
And so, that is where the money came from. Let me just say this, and I want to say this to the television audience: I made my mistakes, but in all of my years of public life, I have never profited, never profited from public service--I have earned every cent. And in all of my years of public life, I have never obstructed justice. And I think, too, that I could say that in my years of public life, that I welcome this kind of examination, because people have got to know whether or not their President is a crook. Well, I am not a crook. I have earned everything I have got”.
And the Great National Nightmare continued.
This is the entire press conference - for those of you wanting the soundbite above, it's at 35:14 on your counter.
And that's what it sounded like on November 17, 1973.