Imagine that Nixon made fewer mistakes while covering up Watergate:

  • He handles John Dean more carefully, so that the latter does not cooperate with investigators.
  • Dean never speculates about the taping system to Congress, which means they don't ask Butterfield a direct question about it. Butterfield therefore avoids mentioning it in his testimony.
  • On the off chance that the system is discovered anyway, Nixon either destroys or avoids creating the "smoking gun" tape.
  • Nixon does not trust Mark Felt with the coverup and the latter is unable to leak details to the press.
  • Assuming a special prosecutor is still appointed, Nixon makes a concerted effort to appear cooperative and does not attempt to fire them.

Assuming that these efforts are at least moderately successful, does the House impeach Nixon? If so, does the Senate remove him? If he retains the presidency, would he still have enough political capital left to do anything with it?

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    $\begingroup$ This is an example of this. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz May 20 '17 at 21:04
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    $\begingroup$ This feels story-based or character-based to me, but I didn't have time to vote such before JDĹ‚ugosz mod-hammered it shut. In general, asking about individuals is risky. Consider using the sandbox. $\endgroup$ – a CVn May 20 '17 at 21:04
  • $\begingroup$ Sorry, but I thought I provided a number of specific examples to narrow down the question. Can you help me understand its deficiencies so I can fix it? $\endgroup$ – Kevin May 20 '17 at 21:13
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    $\begingroup$ @EnigmaMaitreya: Any advice on how to make it sound less like a "comment on Nixon" and more like a question? Because I did intend it as the latter. $\endgroup$ – Kevin May 21 '17 at 17:40
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    $\begingroup$ This question is being discussed on meta: worldbuilding.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/4943/… $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio May 21 '17 at 18:28

This still may be a matter of opinion but I don't see that the heads of department holding back would necessarily mean those lower down would too.

The police catch some men breaking into the Democrats HQ. The men were paid using known dodgy accounts connected with Nixon (if you want to change anything, I'd change this). The FBI are now convinced of Nixon's involvement and would, in my opinion, keep pushing until they found their evidence.

Maybe you cover the big leaks that came out at the time but I see no reason for this to stop the leaks coming from other places. If you want to stop it you have to stop the FBI investigating in the first place.

(Once the FBI find their evidence events will follow more or less as they did).

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