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Nixon Fires Cox, Abolishes His Office; Richardson Resigns His Post in Protest

Cox: Latest Casualty of Nixon Crisis

By Robert Mcdonald

Special Watergate prosecutor Archibald Cox '34 saw the latest and most critical mission of his turbulent legal and academic career aborted yesterday after a scant five months in operation.

Cox, who has held major posts in three Democratic administrations and earned a reputation as "University troubleshooter" during campus disorders several years ago, last night became a casualty of the latest round of firings and resignations in the Nixon administration when he refused to heed a presidential order to cease his efforts to obtain the Watergate tapes.

The 61-year-old Law School professor assumed the prosecutor's post in late May under a special eight-point charter granting him an unprecedented degree of independence in investigating all alleged irregularities connected with the 1972 presidential election.

He was selected by then attorney general-designate Elliot L. Richardson '41, whose confirmation hinged on the appointment of a special prosecutor.

"The only authority he has retained is to give me hell if I don't do the job, and I think he ought to keep that authority," Cox said at the time.

Earlier this summer, Cox reportedly told friends that he expected to finish out a career that has moved between Cambridge and Washington in his post as special prosecutor.

In 1961 the late President John F. Kennedy '40 lured him from the Law School to serve as Solicitor General where he remained through the first three years of the Johnson administration.

University Hall Bust

The Corporation four years ago granted him broad powers in the wake of the 1969 University Hall bust. The previous year Cox had chaired a blue-ribbon panel on campus disorders at Columbia University.

Cox exercised his authority as "University troubleshooter" through June 1971, and experienced his most trying crises near the end of his term when he became embroiled in a controversial prowar teach-in at Sanders Theater and a building take-over on Memorial Drive.

In the first incident Cox was forced to call off the teach-in after demonstrators, who made up nearly half the audience, clapped, chanted and booed for nearly 45 minutes, refusing to allow officials of North Vietnam and a White House adviser the opportunity to speak.

Earlier in the month, he waited out a women's group that seized a vacant building at 888 Memorial Drive owned by the University, achieving a peaceful end to the nine-day occupation.

An expert in labor law, Cox is an experienced arbitrator. Bok and Cox, who 25 years ago jointly authored a book on labor law, were close colleagues during their years at the Law School.

Cox is perhaps best remembered here for his plea to demonstrators during the disrupted pro-war teach-in. "If this meeting is disrupted--hateful as some of us may find it--then liberty will have died a little and those guilty of disruption will have done irreparable damage to the cause of humanity and peace," he told a crowd that could not hear him over the din.

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