THE CRISIS: The Mystery of the Missing Tapes

Struggling to recover his balance, Richard Nixon last week stumbled into yet another Watergate morass. Now it was the mystery of the missing tapes. Conceded one of his closest legal advisers: "We've created a credibility cul-de-sac of such monstrous dimensions that even the most innocent transaction appears suspect."

This particular transaction unreeled just as one of Watergate's long-awaited moments of truth finally seemed to be at hand. Nixon had vigorously protected nine recordings of his White House conversations through three painful months of litigation. His fight had precipitated a constitutional collision and...

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