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The Watergate Scandal

The Watergate Scandal

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  • Watergate Chronology
  • Watergate Narrative
  • Spiro T. Agnew
  • Jack Anderson
  • Alfred C. Baldwin
  • Howard Baker
  • Bernard L. Barker
  • Carmine Bellino
  • Robert F. Bennett
  • Carl Bernstein
  • William Birely
  • Ben Bradlee
  • Arthur Bremer
  • Mae Brussell
  • William F. Buckley
  • Fred Buzhardt
  • Alexander P. Butterfield
  • Douglas Caddy
  • Dwight L. Chapin
  • William Colby
  • Len Colodny
  • Charles Colson
  • Archibald Cox
  • Dan T. Carter
  • Jack Caulfield
  • Murray Chotiner
  • Frank Church
  • Michelle Clark
  • G. Bradford Cook
  • Samuel Dash
  • Deborah Davis
  • John Dean
  • Deep Throat
  • John Ehrlichman
  • Daniel Ellsberg
  • Sam Ervin
  • Jim Hougan
  • Mark Felt
  • Bernard Fensterwald
  • Fred F. Fielding
  • Donald Freed
  • Leonard Garment
  • Robert Gettlin
  • Virgilio Gonzalez
  • J. Timothy Gratz
  • L. Patrick Gray
  • Hank Greenspun
  • Howard Hughes
  • Alexander Haig
  • H. R. Haldeman
  • Gary Hart
  • Adrian Havill
  • Richard Helms
  • Seymour Hersh
  • Dorothy Hunt
  • E. Howard Hunt
  • Daniel K. Inouye
  • Thomas Karamessines
  • Edward Kennedy
  • Ronald Kessler
  • Richard Kleindienst
  • Egil Krogh
  • Frederick LaRue
  • John Leon
  • G. Gordon Liddy
  • Robert Maheu
  • Victor Marchetti
  • Robert Mardian
  • Eugenio Martinez
  • Jeb Magruder
  • James W. McCord
  • George McGovern
  • Larry O'Brien
  • Carl Oglesby
  • R. Spencer Oliver
  • Lee R. Pennington
  • Peter Rodino
  • Mark Riebling
  • William Ruckelshaus
  • Lou Russell
  • James Schlesinger
  • Daniel Schorr
  • Hugh Scott
  • Maurice Stans
  • Rodney Stich
  • Frank Sturgis
  • William Sullivan
  • Anthony Summers
  • Rose Mary Woods
  • Cord Meyer
  • John N. Mitchell
  • Lucien Nedzi
  • Richard Nixon
  • Richard Ober
  • Henry Peterson
  • Richard Popkin
  • Thomas Powers
  • William Proxmire
  • Bebe Rebozo
  • Donald Segretti
  • Sherman Skolnick
  • John J. Sirica
  • Herman E. Talmadge
  • Fred Thompson
  • Anthony Ulasewicz
  • George Wallace
  • Vernon Walters
  • Bob Woodward

G. Gordon Liddy

George Gordon Battle Liddy (November 30, 1930 – March 30, 2021) was an American lawyer, FBI agent, talk show host, actor, and figure in the Watergate scandal as the chief operative in the White House Plumbers unit during the Nixon administration. Liddy was convicted of conspiracy, burglary, and illegal wiretapping for his role in the scandal. [1]

Working alongside E. Howard Hunt, Liddy organized and directed the burglary of the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate building in May and June 1972. After five of Liddy's operatives were arrested inside the DNC offices on June 17, 1972, subsequent investigations of the Watergate scandal led to Nixon's resignation in 1974. Liddy was convicted of burglary, conspiracy, and refusing to testify to the Senate committee investigating Watergate. He served nearly fifty-two months in federal prisons. [2]

He later joined with Timothy Leary for a series of debates on multiple college campuses, and similarly worked with Al Franken in the late 1990s. Liddy served as a radio talk show host from 1992 until his retirement on July 27, 2012. [3] His radio show as of 2009 [update] was syndicated in 160 markets by Radio America and on both Sirius Satellite Radio and XM Satellite Radio stations in the United States. [4] He was a guest panelist for Fox News Channel in addition to appearing in a cameo role or as a guest celebrity talent on several television shows.

The Watergate Scandal - History

Watergate is the most notorious political scandal in American history, and Deep Throat the most famous unidentified single source in journalism.

What began as a seemingly innocuous burglary in June 1972 led to the downfall of President Richard Nixon.

It also unearthed a web of political spying, sabotage and bribery.

Some say it changed American political culture forever, knocking the president from his pedestal and emboldening the media.

Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein played a key role in bringing the scandal to light, aided by crucial information from their mysterious informant.

Watergate is a general term used to describe a complex web of political scandals between 1972 and 1974.

But it also refers specifically to the Watergate complex in Washington DC which houses a hotel and many business offices.

It was here on 17 June 1972 that five men were arrested trying to bug the offices of the Democratic National Committee.

The break-in, during that year's election campaign, was traced to members of a Nixon-support group, the Committee to Re-elect the President.

The burglars and two accomplices were convicted in January 1973, with many, including trial judge John Sirica, suspecting a conspiracy reaching the higher echelons of power.

The affair transformed into a wider political scandal when one of the convicted burglars - who like the others had received a heavy sentence for his silence over the affair - wrote to Sirica alleging a massive cover-up.

The Senate launched investigations that engulfed major political players including former attorney general John Mitchell and chief White House advisers John Ehrlichman and HR Haldeman.

In April 1974, Nixon bowed to public pressure and released edited transcripts of his taped conversations relating to Watergate.

But it failed to stop the steady erosion of support for his administration, or a public perception that he was implicated in the conspiracy.

In July that year, the Supreme Court ordered Nixon to turn over the tapes relating to the scandal.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives' Judiciary Committee completed its investigation and passed three articles of impeachment against Nixon.

On 5 August, Nixon gave up transcripts of three recorded conversations.

He admitted he had been aware of the cover-up shortly after the Watergate break-in and that he had tried to halt the FBI's inquiry.

Four days later, he became the only US President to resign from office and was replaced by Vice-President Gerald Ford.

President Ford pardoned Nixon to avoid a trial, while Nixon's chief associates, Haldeman, Ehrlichman and Mitchell, were among those convicted in 1975 for their role.

Woodward and Bernstein broke many of the stories as the scandal grew. Their book on the scandal, All the President's Men, became a movie starring Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford.

Memorable scenes include Woodward's first meeting with Deep Throat, who lights a cigarette in a dark, dismal parking garage, and the source exhorting Woodward to "follow the money".

As Watergate unfolded, Deep Throat became nervous that his role in the Post's investigation would be discovered, Woodward has said.

He is believed to have demanded that the two stop conversing by phone, thinking that the line may be tapped, and they began meeting late at night in a Washington parking garage.

If Woodward wanted a meeting with Deep Throat, the reporter would rearrange a potted plant in his apartment window.

If Deep Throat wanted a meeting with Woodward, he would somehow ensure that page 20 of Woodward's daily New York Times delivery was circled.

For decades there has been speculation about who Deep Throat was, with the cloak-and-dagger intrigue only fuelling the mystery.

The Real Story Of ‘The Most Famous Political Scandal’ In U.S. History

Pierre Manevy/Express/Getty Images

In the latest 5-minute video for PragerU, radio host and columnist Hugh Hewitt breaks down the real and little-known history of Watergate, the most famous political scandal in U.S. history.

Even though many people know Watergate involved an illegal break-in, says Hewitt, if you were to ask most any person to try and explain the scandal, they’d likely draw a blank. But what most people don’t know, he argues, is that Watergate was “first and foremost” part of a political war between a Republican president and the mainstream media.

Hewitt offers three reasons for why the media had it out for President Richard Nixon: The elites despised him, and the Washington, D.C., press corps were members of the elite Nixon was a staunch anti-communist at a time media types believed the communism threat was “overblown” and Nixon refused to abandon South Vietnam in the war against communism at a time when media types were anti-war.

So why did the Watergate scandal blow up the way that it did? Hewitt argues that had Nixon’s people simply owned up to its role in the scandal, the whole ordeal may have just blown over. But because Nixon failed to mount an effective response, the scandal grew from minor to major.

“Three men made sure of that,” argues Hewitt. “A publicity-seeking judge” named John Sirica, a “vengeful” FBI official named Mark Felt, and “a partisan special prosecutor” named Archibald Cox.

“Suspecting a vast conspiracy, Sirica threatened the burglars with lifetime prison sentences if they didn’t rat out the people who authorized the crime,” says Hewitt.

Meanwhile, the FBI official “thought that he deserved to become head of the FBI” and started leaking tips to Washington Post reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward after Nixon overlooked him for the position. “Meeting secretly, he told them where to look and what questions to ask. Without him, the duo would have gotten nowhere,” Hewitt says.

“With Sirica applying pressure from the bench and Felt from inside the FBI, the White House defenses began to weaken, then crack, and then shatter,” says Hewitt. Then once Cox appointed Democratic lawyers to investigate the Nixon administration, the president effectively found himself in political quicksand from which he could not escape.

“When it emerged that many of Nixon’s private conversations were recorded, his fate was sealed. Citing executive privilege, he tried to keep the tapes from Sirica and Congress. On July 24, 1974, the Supreme Court ruled against the president,” he says.

Less than a month later, Nixon resigned — the only U.S. president to ever do so.

“The media had its victory, and a newfound sense of power. The country has not been the same since,” says Hewitt.

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Your guide to the Watergate scandal that brought down President Richard Nixon

Find out more about the political scandal that shamed the White House and brought down President Richard Nixon, with this brief guide from BBC History Revealed Magazine to the break-in at the Watergate Hotel – and its fallout

This competition is now closed

Published: September 11, 2020 at 3:55 pm

What was ‘Watergate’?

At 2.30am on 17 June 1972, five burglars were discovered in the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters in the Watergate Hotel, about a mile from the White House. The break-in, which took place five months before the US presidential election, sparked a series of events that changed the course of the country’s history.

Why was this burglary different to any other?

The break-in was a bungled follow-up to a forced entry the previous month, when the same men stole copies of top-secret documents and wiretapped the phones. When the wiretaps failed to work, they returned to finish the job. An FBI investigation revealed all five had links to the White House, in a chain of connections that went as high as Charles Colson, special counsel to President Nixon, and showed them to be members of the Committee to Re-elect the President – nicknamed CREEP.

What was Nixon’s response?

Keen to distance himself from the scandal, Nixon declared no-one in the White House had been involved, but behind the scenes, he was involved in a massive cover-up. His campaign paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to the burglars to buy their silence. What’s more, in a flagrant abuse of presidential power, the CIA was instructed to block the FBI’s investigation into the source of funding for the burglary.

When did cracks start to appear in the cover-up?

Although Nixon won the election in November 1972, the scandal escalated. By the following January, seven men (‘the Watergate Seven’) went on trial for their involvement: five pleaded guilty, with the other two – former Nixon aides G Gordon Liddy and James W McCord – convicted of conspiracy, burglary and wiretapping. Soon after, a letter written by McCord alleged that five of the defendants had been pressured into pleading guilty during their trial. Others, too, began to crack under pressure. Presidential counsel John Dean, who initially tried to protect the presidency, was dismissed in April 1973 and later testified to the President’s crimes, telling a grand jury that he suspected conversations within the Oval Office had been taped. A tug of war ensued, with Nixon refusing to relinquish the recordings to Watergate prosecutors. But, in August 1974, following moves to impeach him, he did release the tapes. the Watergate cover-up and, on 8 August, he announced his resignation, the first US president ever to do so.

Was Nixon the instigator of the whole affair?

It’s unlikely Nixon himself orchestrated the break-in: a taped conversation between the President and his Chief of Staff has Nixon asking “Who was the asshole who did?”. But his role in covering up his administration’s involvement is unquestionable. At the time, however,Nixon was able to convince the public of his innocence and he won the election with 60.7 per cent of the popular vote.

What role did the media play in the President’s downfall?

The media was instrumental in keeping the scandal in the public eye, none more so than the Washington Post. Its reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein broke the most significant stories of the affair, and their investigation is credited with bringing down the President. Their story is portrayed in the 1974 book All the President’s Men, later a film.

Who was ‘Deep Throat’?

Woodward and Bernstein owe much of their success to a secret FBI source known as ‘Deep Throat’, who steered the pair in the right direction, allegedly urging them to “follow the money”. Deep Throat remained anonymous until 2005, when he was revealed as FBI number two, Mark Felt.

What were the consequences of Watergate?

Sixty-nine people were charged, with 48 found guilty, including Nixon’s Chief of Staff and Attorney General. Nixon continued to proclaim his innocence, declaring in 1977: “when the president does it, that means that it is not illegal”. He was eventually pardoned by President Ford, therefore escaping impeachment and prosecution.

This article was first published in BBC History Revealed in 2016

The 15 meanest and best family movie insults

Posted On January 28, 2019 18:41:28

No matter how calm, cool, and collected you are, fighting is an unavoidable part of life. And while you’re sure to take your share of insults from friends, coworkers, and strangers, we all know deep down that nobody can tear you a new one quite like your flesh and blood. And this universal truth is constantly shown onscreen, as nearly every great family movie features an iconic family fight that includes a variety of insults that are hilarious or heartbreaking or, in some instances, both at the same time. So, in honor of Family Fight Week, Fatherly decided to round up the 15 meanest insults in movie family history. Enjoy the beautiful brutality.

E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (Brother vs. Brother)

Elliot (To his brother Michael): “It was nothing like that, penis breath!”

When Elliot has finally had enough of his older brother teasing him, he busts out this hilarious insult to shut him up. It’s such an unexpectedly solid burn that Elliot’s mom has to stifle laughter while she tries to reprimand her son’s foul mouth.

Step Brothers (Stepbrother vs. Stepbrother)

Dale: “You and your mom are hillbillies. This is a house of learned doctors.”
Brennan: “You’re not a doctor. You’re a big, fat, curly-headed fuck.”

The first 45 minutes of this insane family comedy pretty much revolves around Brennan (Will Ferrell) and Dale (John C. Reilly) seeing who can sling the most vicious insult at the other. And none hit harder than when Brennan drops this perfect diss on his new fully grown stepbrother to make it clear that he is the furthest thing from a doctor.

War of the Roses (Husband vs. Wife)

Oliver: “I think you owe me a solid reason. I worked my ass off for you and the kids to have a nice life and you owe me a reason that makes sense. I want to hear it.”

Barbara: “Because. When I watch you eat. When I see you asleep. When I look at you lately, I just want to smash your face in.”

Oliver Rose (Michael Douglas) likely did not realize how blunt Barbara (Kathleen Turner) would be when he asked her to explain why she wanted a divorce. Sometimes the truth sets you free and other times it kicks you right in the groin over and over.

Knocked Up (Wife vs. Husband)

Debbie (To her husband Pete): “I know we’re supposed to be nice with each other right now but I’m having a really hard time with it. I’m struggling with it right now. I want to rip your head off because you’re so fucking stupid.”

When Debbie (Leslie Mann) tries to convince Pete (Paul Rudd) to take his parenting responsibilities more serious, he continues to make jokes, leading her to not-so-subtly threaten him while letting him know that she thinks he’s a total moron. Because nobody knows how to tear you apart more than your soulmate, am I right?

Thor (Father vs. Son)

Odin: You are a vain, greedy, cruel boy.
Thor: And you are an old man and a fool.

When Odin (Anthony Hopkins) reprimands his son Thor (Chris Hemsworth) for his immature and self-centered attitude, it quickly devolves into a Shakespearean battle of the wits, with both letting the other know what they really think of them in the most creative and mean-spirited way possible.

Home Alone (Uncle vs. Nephew)

Uncle Frank (To his Nephew Kevin): “Look what you did, you little jerk!”

Poor Kevin receives his fair share of verbal abuse from family members but this insult from his uncle sticks out because it comes from a real place. That palpable sense of frustration and disdain cuts far deeper than any clever French insult ever could.

Dan In Real Life (Daughter vs. Father)

Cara (To her dad): You are a murderer of love!

On the surface, this might seem less vitriolic than most of the other insults on the list but once you see the pure passion and hatred coming from Cara (Britt Robertson), you can see why Dan seemed a little scared watching her scream from the front yard.

Zoolander (Father vs. Son)

Larry Zoolander (To his son Derek): “You’re dead to me, boy. You’re more dead to me than your dead mother. I just thank the Lord she didn’t live to see her son as a mermaid.”

When Derek (Ben Stiller) returns home to rediscover who he is, he finds that his dad Larry (Jon Voight) doesn’t take too kindly to his vain, superficial lifestyle. And things really come to a head when a commercial comes on that features Derek as a dimwitted mermaid (MERMAN!). In a fit of shame and rage, Larry tells Derek the extremely harsh truth that he is dead to him and that his dead mother would be ashamed of him.

Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Father vs. Son)

Denethor: Is there a captain here who still has the courage to do his lord’s will?
Faramir: You wish now that our places had been exchanged… that I had died and Boromir had lived.
Denethor: Yes, I wish that.
Faramir: Since you are robbed of Boromir… I will do what I can in his stead. If I should return, think better of me, Father.
Denethor: That will depend on the manner of your return.

Poor, Faramir. All he ever wants to do is make his dad proud and how does Denethor treat him in return? Like a waste of time and space. Even when Faramir offers to essentially ride to his death to please his father, Denethor still throws shade.

Donnie Darko (Brother vs. Sister)

Donnie: You’re such a fuck-ass!
Elizabeth: What? Did you just call me a “fuck-ass”? You can go suck a fuck.
Donnie: Oh, please, tell me, Elizabeth, how exactly does one suck a fuck?
Elizabeth: You want me to tell you?

There is an anger that exists between siblings that can’t be found anywhere else. It’s an anger that is raw and causes all sense of propriety to fade away in favor of pure, unadulterated rage. And when Donnie (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Elizabeth (Maggie Gyllenhaal) begin sniping at each other during family dinner, it’s not too long before they begin battling over who can find the most ridiculous way to tell the other to go fuck themselves. And yes, bonus points because they’re actually siblings.

Jersey Girl (Daughter vs. Father)

Gertie: “I hate you! I hate you! I wish you died, not mommy!”
Ollie: “I hate you right back, you little shit. You and your mom took my life away from me. I just want it back!”

Every parent has that moment where they are pushed to the edge and say something to their kid they will regret later but Ollie (Ben Affleck) went about nine steps too far by telling his daughter Gertie (Raquel Castro) he hates her and blames her for his lack of success in life. Even when you know it’s coming, it’s still hard to watch.

Talladega Nights (Father-in-Law vs. Son-in-Law)

Chip: You’re gonna let your sons talk to their grandfather that way? I’m their elder.
Ricky: I sure as hell am, Chip. I love how they’re talking to you cause they’re winners. Winners get to do what they want. Hell, you’re just a bag of bones. The only thing you’ve ever done is make a hot daughter. That’s it. That’s it. THAT IS IT!

The relationship between a spouse in their in-laws is never easy but it is especially difficult when a son-in-law has no problem letting his wife’s husband know he believes he is entirely useless, beyond the fact that he made his wife.

Warrior (Son vs. Father)

Paddy: Come on, kiddo. I’ve been there. I’ve done it. I’ve seen it. You can trust me. I’ll understand.
Tom: Spare me the compassionate father routine, Pop. The suit don’t fit.
Paddy: I’m really trying here, Tommy.
Tom: You’re trying? Now? Where were you when it mattered? I needed this guy back when I was a kid. I don’t need you now. It’s too late now. Everything’s already happened. You and Brendan don’t seem to understand that. Let me explain something to you: the only thing I have in common with Brendan Conlon is that we have absolutely no use for you.

This entire movie is about estranged relatives who are forced to interact with each other, so it should come as no surprise that Warrior is filled with some of the cruelest familial insults in cinematic history, including a devastating exchange between Tom (Tom Hardy) and his dad Paddy (Nick Nolte). Tom doesn’t just hurt his dad he destroys him.

Nine Months (Wife vs. Husband)

Gail (To her husband Marty): I hate you! You did this to me you miserable piece of dick-brained, horseshit slime-sucking son of a whore bitch!

It’s no secret that giving birth is a painful experience and that as much as dads try to sympathize, they’ll never really know what that pain is like. But that doesn’t keep Gail (Joan Cusack) from trying to unleash her pain onto Marty (Tom Arnold) as she is about to give birth, as she uses her agony to create a string of poetic vulgarities directed at her husband.

Walk The Line (Father vs. Son)

Ray Cash (To his son Johnny): “Mister big shot, mister pill poppin’ rock star. Who are you to judge? You ain’t got nothing. Big empty house? Nothing. Children you don’t see? Nothing. Big old expensive tractor stuck in the mud? Nothing.”

If this list proves anything, it’s that fathers have the ability to hurt kids in a way that nobody else can. Look no further than this excruciating moment where Ray Cash (Robert Patrick) lets his son Johnny (Joaquin Phoenix) know how pathetic he finds his entire existence. (Note: we could not find this clip online anywhere, guess you’re just going to have to watch the movie!)

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

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Watergate Scandal Timeline

There have been many scandals throughout American presidential history, but only one has ever brought down a presidency. To understand Watergate, it is helpful to have an understanding of the culture of the administration, and of the psyche of the man himself. Richard M. Nixon was a secretive man who did not tolerate criticism well, who engaged in numerous acts of duplicity, who kept lists of enemies, and who used the power of the presidency to seek petty acts of revenge on those enemies. As early as the 1968 campaign Nixon was scheming about Vietnam. Just as the Democrats were gaining in the polls following Johnson’s halting of the bombing of North Vietnam and news of a possible peace deal, Nixon set out to sabotage the Paris peace negotiations by privately assuring the South Vietnamese military rulers a better deal from him than they would get from Democratic candidate Hubert Humphrey. The South Vietnamese junta withdrew from the talks on the eve of the election, ending the peace initiative and helping Nixon to squeak out a marginal victory.

During Nixon’s first term he approved a secret bombing mission in Cambodia, without even consulting or informing congress, and he fought tooth and nail to prevent the New York Times from publishing the infamous Pentagon Papers (described below). Most striking, however, was Nixon’s strategy for how to deal with the enemies that he saw everywhere. Nixon sent Vice President Spiro Agnew on the circuit to blast the media, protestors, and intellectuals who criticized the Vietnam War and Nixon’s policies. Agnew spewed out alliterate insults such as “pusillanimous pussyfooters”, “nattering nabobs of negativism”, and “hopeless, hysterical hypochondriacs of history”. He once described a group of opponents as “an effete corps of impudent snobs who characterize themselves as intellectuals.”

The Washington “Plumbers”

But Nixon and his aides also discussed ways in which the President could use subterfuge to undermine his enemies and revenge perceived injustices. This became especially important to the President in 1972, when he was determined to win the election more comfortably than he had in 1968. Nixon had once approved the illegal break-in concept first floated by White House aide Tom Huston, even though Huston specifically told the president it was tantamount to burglary. However, FBI director J. Edgar Hoover refused to cooperate. (Hoover then died in May, 1972, and L. Patrick Gray was appointed acting director in his place). Nixon was especially infuriated by leaks in his administration, and none was bigger than that which became known as the Pentagon Papers, a sensitive Pentagon document that traced the often illicit history of America’s involvement in Vietnam. Nixon tried to block publication of the document, and lost. When Nixon discovered that military analyst Daniel Ellsberg had been the source of the leak, he told White House Counsel Charles Colson, “Do whatever has to be done to stop these leaks and prevent further unauthorized disclosures I don’t want to be told why it can’t be done…I don’t want excuses I want results. I want it done, whatever the cost.” Colson and yet another Nixon aide, John Erlichmann, created a group whose task it was to stop any further leaks. These White House Plumbers, as they came to be known, were tasked with finding a way to get revenge on Ellsberg. Two of the so-called plumbers were ex-CIA officer Howard Hunt, and ex-FBI agent G. Gordon Liddy. The plumbers tried to break into the office of Ellsberg’s psychiatrist in Los Angeles to get Ellsberg’s confidential treatment records, but the raid was completely botched. In addition to Hunt and Liddy, several other future Watergate burglars were part of this raid.

The Watergate Break-In

June 16, 1972: In room 214 of the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C., seven men gathered to finalize their plans to break in to the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) headquarters, located on the sixth floor of one of the Watergate complex’s six buildings. One of these men, G. Gordon Liddy, was a former FBI agent. Another, E. Howard Hunt, had retired from the CIA. James McCord would handle the bugging, Bernard Barker would photograph documents, and Virgilio Gonzalez would pick the locks. The remaining two, Eugenio Martinez and Frank Sturgis, would serve as lookouts. Several of these men were Cuban exiles who had met Hunt through their participation in the failed Bay of Pigs invasion back in 1961. Although the burglars would be caught in the act, many months would passbefore the enough details would emerge to create a picture of the events leading up to that night. These men had been hired by representatives of President Nixon’s administration to use illegal means to gather information that could prove useful to Nixon winning the 1972 election.

On June 17, 1972, Frank Wills, a security guard at the Watergate Complex, noticed tape covering the latch on the locks of several stairway doors in the complex , allowing them to be closed without locking. He removed the tape, and thought nothing of it. An hour later, he discovered that someone (McCord) had re-taped the locks. Wills called the police, who showed up in plainclothes in an unmarked car, allowing them to pass by the lookout without the alarm being sounded. The burglars then turned off their radio when they heard noise in an adjacent stairwell. The lookout saw several of the police officers outside on a terrace near the DNC offices, but when he alerted Liddy (Liddy and Hunt stayed in the hotel room, in two-way radio contact with the others), the ex-FBI agent was unable to reach them on the radio. Within minutes, the police arrested the 5 burglars. On their possession were wire-tapping equipment, two cameras, several dozen rolls of film, and a few thousand dollars in cash–$100 bills in sequential serial numbers (indicating the money had come directly from a bank, which could possibly be traced). Liddy and Hunt quickly vacated the premises, but the burglars also had two hotel room keys, one of which was for the room where Liddy and Hunt had stayed.

The five burglars were processed at the police station, where several of them gave fake names. Hunt hired a lawyer to quickly bail the men out, but he underestimated their bail amount. G. Gordon Liddy went to his office and commenced a shredding operation to eliminate any evidence of his involvement. Liddy worked for the Committee to Re-elect the President, sometimes referred to pejoratively as CREEP, and his involvement was a direct connection to President Nixon. McCord was the chief security officer at CREEP. Liddy and Hunt had also worked at the White House, which made the Nixon connection more serious. Meanwhile, a simple fingerprint check revealed the burglar’s true identities.

On Monday, June 19, 1972: The Washington Post reported, “One of the five men arrested early Saturday in the attempt to bug the Democratic National Committee headquarters is the salaried security coordinator for President Nixon’s re-election committee.” Shortly thereafter, it was revealed that a search warrant had been executed for the hotel rooms for which the burglars had keys, and that inside one of them were address books that listed Howard Hunt’s name or initials, and included the hand-written notation, “WH,” for White House. Official reaction was swift. From the White House, Nixon’s Press Secretary, Ron Zeigler, dismissed the incident as some sort of petty thievery attempt. John Mitchell, the head of CREEP, denied that the organization had any connection to the event. These public denials were lies. In fact, an elaborate cover-up was already under way. The charge that would stem from the cover-up, “obstruction of justice,” would eventually bring Nixon down.

The Connection to the Committee to Re-Elect the President (CREEP)

On August 1, 1972, a $25,000 cashiers check earmarked for the Nixon re-election campaign was found in the bank account of one of the Watergate burglars. Further investigation revealed that, in the months leading up to their arrests, more thousands had passed through their bank and credit card accounts, supporting the burglars’ travel, living expenses, and purchase,. Several donations (totaling $89,000) were made by individuals who thought they were making private donations to the President’s re-election committee. The donations were made in the form of cashier’s, certified, and personal checks, and all were made payable only to the Committee to Re-Elect the President. However, through a complicated fiduciary set-up, the money actually went into an account owned by a Miami company run by Watergate burglar Bernard Barker. On the backs of these checks was the official endorsement by the person who had the authority to do so, Committee Bookkeeper and Treasurer, Hugh Sloan. Thus a direct connection between the Watergate break-in and the Committee to Re-Elect the President had been established. When confronted and faced with the potential charge of federal bank fraud, Sloan revealed that he had given the checks to G. Gordon Liddy at the direction of Committee Deputy Director Jeb Magruder and Finance Director Maurice Stans. Liddy had then given the endorsed checks to Watergate burglar Bernard Barker, who then deposited the money in accounts located outside the U.S. and withdrew the money in the form of cashier’s checks and money orders in April and May. They did not know that banks kept records of these transactions.

Woodward, Bernstein & “Deep Throat”

Media coverage during 1972 was influential in keeping the Watergate story in the news, and in establishing the connection between the burglary and the Committee to Re-Elect the President. The most notable coverage came from Time, The New York Times, and especially from The Washington Post. Opinions vary, but the publicity these media outlets gave to Watergate likely resulted in more consequential political repercussions from the Congressional investigation. Most famous is the story of how Washington Post Reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein relied heavily on anonymous sources to reveal that knowledge of the break-in and subsequent attempt to cover it up had connections deep in the Justice Department, the FBI, the CIA, and even the White House.

Woodward and Bernstein’s most famous source was an individual they had nicknamed Deep Throat, a reference to a controversial pornography film of the time. Woodward claimed in his 1974 book, All The President’s Men, that the two would meet secretly at an underground parking garage just over the Key Bridge in Rosslyn, usually at 2:00 am, where Deep Throat helped him make the connections. Throughout the protracted investigation, Woodward would signal his source that he desired a meeting by placing a flowerpot with a red flag on the balcony of his apartment. If Deep Throat wanted a meeting, he would make special marks on page twenty of Woodward’s copy of The New York Times. The first meeting took place on June 20, 1972, only 3 days after the break-in. The identity of Deep Throat was the subject of intense speculation for more than 30 years before he was revealed to be the FBI’s #2, Mark Felt.

On September 15, 1972, Hunt, Liddy, and the 5 Watergate burglars were indicted by a federal grand jury.

On September 29, it was revealed that Attorney General & Nixon campaign chairman John Mitchell had controlled a secret Republican fund used to pay for spying on the Democrats. On October 10, the FBI reported that the break-in at the Watergate was part of a massive campaign of political spying and sabotage on behalf of the officials and heads of the Nixon re-election campaign. Despite these revelations, Nixon’s re-election was never seriously jeopardized, and on November 7 the President was re-elected in one of the biggest landslides ever in American political history.

Watergate Burglars’ Trial Begins

On January 8, 1973, the five burglars plead guilty as their trial began. On January 30, just ten days after Richard Nixon’s second inauguration, Liddy and McCord were convicted on charges conspiracy, burglary, and wiretapping. Nixon had dodged a bullet in the months between the break-in and his re-election, but the Watergate Scandal did not die out after the burglars were tried.

White House Linked to Cover-Up

On February 28, 1973, Acting FBI Director L. Patrick Gray testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding his nomination to replace J. Edgar Hoover. Committee chairman Sam Ervin, referencing newspaper articles, questioned Gray as to how the White House had gained access to FBI files related to the Watergate investigation. Gray stated he had given reports to White House counsel John Dean, that Dean had ordered him to give the White House daily updates on the FBI’s investigation, that he had discussed the investigation with Dean on many occasions, and that Dean had “probably lied” to FBI investigators about his role in the scandal. Subsequently, Gray was ordered not to talk about Watergate by Attorney General Richard G. Kleindienst. Gray’s nomination failed, and now White House counsel Dean was directly linked to the Watergate cover-up.

On March 19, 1973, convicted Watergate burglar and ex-CIA agent James McCord, still facing sentencing, wrote a letter to U.S. District Judge John Sirica. In the letter, McCord stated that he had been pressured to plead guilty and remain silent, that he had perjured himself during the trial, that the break-in was not a CIA operation, and that other, as yet unnamed government officials, were involved. Judge Sirica urged McCord to cooperate fully with the Senate Watergate Committee, which was about to begin its investigation. On March 23, as the burglars were sentenced, Dean hired an attorney and began to quietly cooperate with Watergate investigators. He did this without informing the President, and continued to work as Nixon’s Chief White House Counsel, a clear conflict of interest.

Senate Watergate Committee Begins Investigation

On March 25, 1973, Senate Watergate Committee lawyer Sam Dash told reporters that he had interviewed James McCord twice, and that McCord had “named names” and had begun “supplying a full and honest account” of the Watergate operation. Dash refused to give details, but promised that McCord would soon testify in public Senate hearings. Shortly after Dash’s press conference, the Los Angeles Times reported that two that McCord had named were White House Counsel John Dean, and Nixon campaign deputy director Jeb Magruder. The White House denied Dean’s involvement, but said nothing about Magruder. Republican sources on Capitol Hill ominously confirmed the story, with one stating that McCord’s allegations were “convincing”. When Dean’s lawyer learned of a follow-up story planned by the Washington Post, he threatened to sue the newspaper if they ran the story. The Postprinted the story anyway, along with the threat from Dean’s lawyer.

On March 28, 1973, James McCord testified before the Senate Watergate Committee in a closed 5-hour session. There were so many leaks to the press that committee leaders decided to conduct all future hearings in public session. The most significant leak was that fellow Watergate burglar G. Gordon Liddy had told McCord that the burglary and surveillance operation was approved by then-Nixon campaign chairman & Attorney General John Mitchell in February 1972, and that White House Special Counsel to the President Charles Colson knew about the Watergate operation in advance (Colson had just quit his post to return to private practice). The next day, Colson told a National Press Club audience “I had no involvement or no knowledge of the Watergate, direct or indirect.”On April 8, 1973, White House Counsel John Dean told White House Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman that he planned to testify before the Senate Committee. Haldeman advised against it, saying, “Once the toothpaste is out of the tube, it’s going to be very hard to get it back in.” Dean compiled a list of 15 names, mostly lawyers, who could be indicted in the scandal, and showed then showed the list to White House counsel and Assistant to the President for Domestic Affairs, John Ehrlichman.

Washington Post Connects Break-In to the Cover-up

April 9, 1973: The New York Times reported that James McCord told the Senate Watergate Committee that the cash payoffs for the burglars came directly from the the Republican Committee to Re-Elect the President (CREEP). When trying to confirm whether or not the “slush fund” continued to operate after the arrests (presumably as payoffs to keep the burglars silent), a CREEP employee exploded over the phone to Bob Woodward. He was apparently emotionally distraught over how the ignorance of former CREEP official John Mitchell and others has undermined the presidency. Woodward then called Hugh Sloan, and, using information he had gotten out of the other CREEP official, wrangled out of the former CREEP Treasurer that about $70,000 in CREEP “slush fund” money was used to pay off the burglars. The Washington Post reporters now had linkage between the bugging and the cover-up.

On April 17, 1973, President Nixon made a brief statement before the White House Press Corps that his White House aides and staff would appear before the Senate Watergate Committee if asked. He announced his own ongoing investigation, and promised to reveal “major new developments” in the future. He stated, “Real progress has been made in finding the truth.” Nixon also said that his concerns about separation of powers had been resolved, and that any person in the executive branch who was indicted would be discharged that no one would be given immunity from prosecution. Nixon concluded, “I condemn any attempts to cover up in this case, no matter who is involved.” After the president left the podium, the press corps proceeded to hammer Press Secretary Ron Ziegler about whether the President’s statement contradicted the position previously articulated. Finally, Ziegler said to the press, “This is the operative statement. The others are inoperative.” Later in the day, the White House issued an official statement saying that the President had no prior knowledge of the Watergate Affair.

On April 22, 1973, Nixon requested that White House Counsel John Dean write him a report about everything he knew about the Watergate matter, and he sent Dean to Camp David to write it. Dean suspected he was on the cusp of becoming the Watergate scapegoat, and so he went to Camp David, but did not write the report.

On April 24, Attorney General Richard Kleindienst met with President Nixon to inform the President that White House counsel John Dean had testified about the white House having ordered the break-in at the office of Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist. Because Ellsberg’s was then on trial over the Pentagon Papers business, Kleindienst said that this new information must be transmitted to to the trial judge. The Attorney General told Nixon, “We have to do it could be another goddamn cover-up, you know. We can’t have another cover-up, Mr. President.” Nixon replied, “I don’t want any cover-ups of anything.” They briefly discussed the possibility of immunity for Dean, but quickly ruled it out. Later in the day, in another conversation, the despondent President told Kleindienst, “What the hell, you know. People say impeach the President. Well, then they get [Vice President Spiro] Agnew. What the hell?” Kleindienst replied, “There’s not going to be anything like that, Mr. President.” These conversations and many others of relevance were recorded on an oval office tape machine, which would be a major component of the investigation. Nixon also learned that Dean had testified about acting FBI Director L. Patrick Gray’s involvement in destroying files from White House “Plumber” E. Howard Hunt’s safe. Nixon says that Gray has to go. Gray resigned on April 27.

Haldeman and Ehrlichman Implicated & Resign

Further leaks about Dean’s discussions with investigators next implicated John Ehrlichman (White House counsel and Assistant to the President for Domestic Affairs) and White House Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman. On April 30, 1973, left with little choice, Nixon summoned the two men to Camp David and, in what’s been described as a very emotional meeting, asked for their resignations. Attorney General Kleindienst also resigned. Nixon also asked for the resignation of White House counsel Dean, whose Senate testimony had, and would continue to be so damaging. He then issued a public statement announcing their resignations.

Nixon’s 1st Primetime Address on Watergate (April 30, 1973)

Later that evening, the President took to the airwaves in his first primetime oval office address to the American people on Watergate. He explained that the resignations were not an admission of guilt, but were carried out in order to restore the confidence of the American people. Nixon announced that he had replaced Attorney General Kleindienst with Elliot Richardson, and that he had given him the authority to designate a special independent counsel to investigate Watergate. Nixon took responsibility for the behavior of CREEP, and said, “I will do everything in my power to ensure that the guilty are brought to justice and that such abuses are purged from our political processes in the years to come, long after I have left this office.” He then explained that, henceforth, he would return to the larger duties of his presidency.

Senate Watergate Committee Hearings Begin

The televised Senate Watergate Committee hearings began on May 17, 1973. The three major networks (ABC, CBS, NBC) agreed to rotate coverage, with each network broadcasting the proceedings every third day (until their completion on August 7). The witness list began with minor players from CREEP. On the fifth day, President Nixon again made a public statement about Watergate. He said, “I had no prior knowledge of the Watergate operation. I took no part in, nor was I aware of, any subsequent efforts that may have been made to cover up Watergate.” Nixon also affirmed that he would not use executive privilege to impede testimony or the presentation of evidence.”

On May 18, 1973, Watergate Burglar James McCord testified before the Senate Committee.

On May 19, 1973, Archibald Cox was appointed Special Prosecutor to oversee the investigation into possible presidential impropriety. He was sworn in on May 25.

On May 22, 1973, President Nixon issued a statement about the Watergate Investigations.

On June 3, 1973, Washington Post reporters Woodward and Bernstein wrote that John Dean planned on giving testimony to the effect that Nixon was deeply involved in the Watergate cover-up, and that Nixon had prior knowledge of the hush-money used to pay off various conspirators. Dean would also testify that Haldeman and Ehrlichman were present at these meetings where cover-up was discussed. On the veracity of Dean’s information, The Post reported a Justice Department source as having said, “[E]verything we have gotten from Dean that we were able to check out has turned out to be accurate.”

John Dean Testifies, Nixon Claims “Executive Privilege”

From June 25-29, 1973, former White House Counsel John Dean did indeed made these allegations. He began with a seven-hour opening statement in which he laid out his knowledge of the entire campaign of White House espionage. He also revealed that he believed Nixon had tape-recorded some of the oval office conversations regarding Watergate. Dean’s story held up well under cross examination. Ten days later, President Nixon announced that he would not testify before the Senate Watergate Committee, and he would not provide access to White House documents. Despite his earlier pronouncement, Nixon justified this decision as “executive privilege”.

The Nixon Tapes

On July 16, 1973, another former aide to the President, Alexander Butterfield, testified before the Senate Committee that there was an oval office recording system, that it was installed and operated by the Secret Service, and that Nixon probably had it installed to record things for posterity, for the Nixon Library. (A few days later, Nixon ordered that the taping system be turned off). The shocking revelation set off a chain reaction in which samples of these tapes were sought by both the Senate Committee and by Independent prosecutor Archibald Cox. Nixon, however, refused to turn over the tapes, again claiming executive privilege. The Senate Committee and Cox then issued subpoenas for the White House tapes.

Nixon again refused, and instead ordered Cox to drop his subpoena, but Cox would not. Eventually, the Supreme Court would decide the issue. Meanwhile, as former Aide John Ehrlichman testified before the Senate Committee and disputed Dean’s testimony, public opinion was split on whether or not John Dean or President Nixon was the more credible.

Nixon’s 2nd Primetime Address on Watergate (August 15, 1973)

On August 15, as the Senate Committee wrapped up the hearings, Nixon again addressed the nation in primetime about Watergate. The President said, “It has become clear that both the hearings themselves and some of the commentaries on them have become increasingly absorbed in an effort to implicate the President personally in the illegal activities that took place.” He reminded the American people that he had already taken “full responsibility” for the “abuses that occurred during my administration.” Nixon restated his innocence: “I state again to every one of you listening tonight these facts–I had no prior knowledge of the Watergate break-in I neither took part in nor knew about any of the subsequent cover-up activities I neither authorized nor encouraged subordinates to engage in illegal or improper campaign tactics. That was and that is the simple truth.”

The president went on to explain in detail how he did not know anything about the cover-up. Nixon justified his refusal to turn over the Oval Office recordings as “a much more important principle than what the tapes might prove about Watergate.” A president must be able to talk “openly and candidly with his advisers about issues and individuals” without having those conversations ever made public. These were “privileged” conversations, similar to but more important than those between a lawyer and his client or “a priest and a penitent.” The conversations on those tapes are “blunt and candid,” made without thought to any future public disclosure, and for future presidents and their advisers to know that their conversations and advice might one day be made public would cripple their ability to talk freely and offer unfettered opinions. “That is why I shall continue to oppose efforts which would set a precedent that would cripple all future presidents by inhibiting conversations between them and those they look to for advice.” Special prosecutor Cox and the Senate Committee asked the Supreme Court to decide the legal dispute over the tapes.

Spiro Agnew Resigns, Gerald R. Ford to Become Vice President

As the summer of 1973 gave way to fall, another event occurred that would have far-reaching effects on the nation’s presidential history. Vice President Spiro Agnew was under investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s office in Baltimore, Maryland, on charges of extortion, tax fraud, bribery, and conspiracy. In October, he was formally charged with having accepted bribes totaling more than $100,000 while serving as Maryland’s governor. To end the criminal proceedings quickly, a deal was reached. Agnew would plead no contest to a lesser charge of failing to report income to the IRS, on the condition that he resign the Vice Presidency. President Nixon sought advice from Congress on a replacement, resulting in the affable 13-term congressman from Michigan getting the nod, Gerald R. Ford. The U.S. Senate approved the nomination 92-3. The House confirmed by a vote of 397-35. On December 6, 1973, Ford took the oath of office as Vice President of the United States. The press, however, paid little notice. Watergate was all-consuming.

The “Saturday Night Massacre”

On October 19, 1973, Nixon, looking toward a solution to the tape dispute, offered what later came to known as the Stennis Compromise. U.S. Senator John C. Stennis (D-MS) would independently review the tapes and summarize them for the special prosecutor’s office. Cox refused the compromise. The next night, a Saturday, Nixon worked to have Cox removed. He contacted Attorney General Elliot Richardson and ordered him to fire Cox. Richardson refused and resigned in protest instead. Nixon then ordered Deputy Attorney General Ruckelshaus to fire Cox he also refused and resigned in protest. Nixon then contacted the Solicitor General, Robert Bork, and ordered him, as acting head of the Justice Department in the wake of the previous resignations, to fire Cox. Bork reluctantly complied. The firing of Special Prosecutor Cox, and the flurry of high-profile Justice Department resignations over the weekend caused the press to dub this event, the “Saturday Night Massacre.”

Congress was infuriated about the Saturday Night Massacre. Numerous resolutions to impeach him were introduced in the House. Nixon, feeling the pressure, agreed to release some of the tapes to District Judge Sirica. A few days later at a nationally televised press conference, Nixon also announced that he was instructing Acting Attorney General Bork to appoint a new Special Prosecutor for the Watergate matter. On November 1, The Justice Department appointed Leon Jaworski its new special prosecutor.

Nixon “I am not a crook” Remark

On November 17, 1973, the President gave another televised press conference, this time from the Contemporary Hotel in Disney World, where the President was attending the Annual Convention of the Associated Press Managing Editors Association. At the end of a lengthy response to a question about his personal finances, the President famously said, “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.”

The 18 1/2 Minute Tape Gap

On November 21, 1973, the White House reported that two of the subpoenaed tapes were missing, and that one that was dated just 3 days after the Watergate burglary contained an erasure of 18 1/2 minutes during a conversation between the President and H.R. Haldeman. Haldeman’s personal notes on the meeting indicate that the break-in was the subject under discussion. Nixon’s secretary, Rose Mary Woods, in initial testimony about the tape, said, “The buttons said on and off, forward and backward. I caught on to that fairly fast. I don’t think I’m so stupid as to erase what’s on a tape.” Later she tried to explain that she had accidentally re-recorded 5 minutes of the tape, while transcribing it, but only 5 minutes, not 18 1/2. She demonstrated how she probably had recorded over the tape with her foot on the transcription pedal located beneath her typewriter as she reached awkwardly for the phone. Suspicions arose that Nixon was destroying evidence.

On February 6, 1974, the House voted to authorized the Judiciary Committee to investigate grounds for impeaching president Nixon.

On March 1, 1974, indictments were handed down for what the press dubs “the Watergate Seven”: Former Attorney General and Nixon campaign manager John N. Mitchell, former White House Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman, former Nixon aide John Ehrlichman, former White House counsel Charles Colson, White House Aide to Haldeman Gordon C. Strachan, aide to Mitchell and CREEP counsel Robert Mardian, and CREEP counsel Kenneth Parkinson. Former White House Counsel John Dean had taken a plea bargain back in October. Nixon was named an “unindicted co-conspirator” by the grand jury.

On April 16, 1974, Special Prosecutor Jaworski issued subpoenas for sixty-four more Nixon tapes.

Nixon’s 3rd Primetime Watergate Address

On April 29, 1974, President Nixon addressed the nation responding to the House Judiciary Committee’s Subpoena for Additional Presidential Tape Recordings.

On April 30, 1974, the White House released edited transcripts of the Nixon tapes and promises 1,200 pages. The House Judiciary Committee insisted that the actual tapes be turned over. The public is shocked by the course language used in private by the President, even though the phrase “expletive deleted” is used in place of the actual words used.

On May 9, 1974, the House Judiciary Committee began impeachment hearings.

United States v. Nixon, Articles of Impeachment, and the “Smoking Gun” Tape

On July 24, 1974, the Supreme Court unanimously decided United States v. Nixon. The President’s argument was rejected. Nixon was ordered to turn over the tapes to investigators. He reluctantly complied. Meanwhile, the House Judiciary Committee pressed ahead. Between July 27 and 30, the Committee adopted three articles of impeachment against the president: Obstructing the Watergate investigation, Misuse of power and violating his oath of office, Failure to comply with House subpoenas. On August 5, in an effort to soften impact of the inevitable disclosure, Nixon voluntary made public three of the subpoenaed tapes. One of these would become known as the “Smoking Gun” tape, a conversation recorded six days after the Watergate break-in. In that tape, Nixon orders Haldeman to use the CIA to hold back the inquiry by the FBI. Haldeman introduces the topic as follows: “…the Democratic break-in thing, we’re back to the–in the, the problem area because the FBI is not under control, because Gray doesn’t exactly know how to control them, and they have… their investigation is now leading into some productive areas […] and it goes in some directions we don’t want it to go.”

After explaining how the money from CRP was traced to the burglars, Haldeman explained to Nixon the cover-up plan: “the way to handle this now is for us to have Walters [CIA] call Pat Gray [FBI] and just say, ‘Stay the hell out of this …this is ah, business here we don’t want you to go any further on it.'” President Nixon approved the plan, and he is given more information about the involvement of his campaign in the break-in, telling Haldeman: “All right, fine, I understand it all. We won’t second-guess Mitchell and the rest.” Returning to the use of the CIA to obstruct the FBI, he instructs Haldeman: “You call them in. Good. Good deal. Play it tough. That’s the way they play it and that’s the way we are going to play it.” The President of the United States was caught on tape, attempting to obstruct justice. Following this revelation, several Republican on the House Judiciary Committee who had voted against the articles of impeachment indicated they would vote for impeachment when the vote was taken in the full House.

President Nixon Resigns

On August 8, key Republican Senators informed the President that, once impeached, enough votes existed in the Senate to convict the President in the trial and remove him from office. That night, Richard Nixon addressed the nation from the Oval Office. He informed the American people that he no longer had a base of support in Congress. Therefore, he would not see the impeachment proceedings through to their conclusion. The nation needed a full-time president. In the interests of the nation, he would resign. The President said, “To continue to fight through the months ahead for my personal vindication would almost totally absorb the time and attention of both the President and the Congress in a period when our entire focus should be on the great issues of peace abroad and prosperity without inflation at home. Therefore, I shall resign the Presidency effective at noon tomorrow. Vice President Ford will be sworn in as President at that hour in this office.”

Nixon Departs, Gerald R. Ford Takes the Oath of Office

The next morning, President and Mrs. Nixon said their goodbyes to the White House staff in the East Room. The Nixons, accompanied by the Fords, walked across the White House lawn to Marine One, where the President turned and gave one last farewell. As the helicopter disappeared from view en route to Edwards, where the Nixons would depart for California, Gerald Ford returned to the East room and took the oath of office. Afterward, he said, “I have not sought this enormous responsibility, but I will not shirk it. Those who nominated and confirmed me as Vice President were my friends and aremy friends. They were of both parties, elected by all the people and acting under the Constitution in their name. It is only fitting then that I should pledge to them and to you that I will be the President of all the people.” He also stated, “My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over. Our constitution works. Our great republic is a government of laws and not of men. Here, the people rule. But there is a higher power, by whatever name we honor Him. Who ordains not only righteousness but love, not only justice, but mercy…. Let us restore the golden rule to our political process and let brotherly love purge our hearts of suspicion and hate.”

The Watergate Scandal - History

When John Gardner formed Common Cause in August 1970 to act as a citizens' lobby to make government and politics more open and accountable, little did he know that in a few years the times would be ripe for reform. The Watergate scandal which brought down the Nixon presidency entails the break-in of the Democratic Party headquarters in 1972, the cover-up of the break-in, and assorted scandals and improprieties that the investigation subsequently revealed. It was the worst scandal in American history for it was an attempt to subvert the American political process itself. It resulted in Richard Nixon becoming the first American president to ever resign from office, and prompted a wave of electoral and political reform.

On June 17, 1972, five men were arrested for breaking into the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate complex in Washington, DC. The ensuing investigation uncovered the roles of White House consultant E. Howard Hunt and G. Gordon Liddy, who was employed by the Committee to Re-Elect the President (CREEP). In particular, journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of the Washington Post doggedly pursued the story, especially the possibility that there was a direct link between the burglars and Nixon.

When Judge John Sirica sentenced the burglars on March 23, 1973, one of the defendents, James McCord charged the White House with trying to cover-up its connection to the break-in, including pressuring the defendants to lie. One of the defendants, Jed Stuart Magruder, changed his testimony and said he perjured himself at the urging of campaign head and former Attorney General John Mitchell and White House Counsel John Dean. In April of 1973, Nixon accepted the resignations of his top aides H.R. Haldeman, John Erlichman, Dean, and Attorney General Richard Kleindienst, and announced that the White House would conduct an investigation into the matter. In May of 1973, the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Activities, chaired by Senator Sam Ervin of North Carolina, began its own televised hearings into the case. The hearings riveted the nation.

At the hearings, Dean accused President Nixon of direct involvement in the cover-up. There was no other evidence, however, until on July 16, 1973, Alexander Butterfield, a former White House staff member, testified that there were secret recordings of presidential conversations. The Committee and the special Watergate prosecutor, Archibald Cox, subpoenaed the tapes, but Nixon refused to turn them over. In response, Nixon ordered his Attorney General Eliot Richardson to fire Cox Richardson refused and resigned as did his deputy, William Ruckelshaus. Cox was eventually fired by the Solicitor General, Robert Bork. This was known as the "Saturday Night Massacre" and provoked a huge outcry at Nixon's abuse of power. On December 8, 1973, Nixon released seven of the nine tapes, and one of the seven had a huge gap in them.

As the contents of these tapes became public, a whole host of abuses became clear from the White House orchestration of the break-in into the office of the psychiatrist of Daniel Ellsberg, famous for leaking the Pentagon Papers, to dirty tricks against political rivals from the use of the IRS to harass political enemies to the virtual sale of ambassadorships and from the threat of rescinding government broadcasting licenses to harass the media to the solicitation of huge cash campaign contributions from wealthy individuals and corporations.

On July 24, 1974, the Supreme Court unanimously ordered Nixon to hand over transcripts of the tapes. A few days later, the House Judiciary Committee passed three articles of impeachment. On August 5, Nixon supplied transcripts that clearly implicated him in the cover-up. With his support eroding, Nixon announced his decision to resign on August 8, 1974. The next day, Vice President Gerald Ford became President.

The Watergate scandal was now over, but its effects were long-lasting. It immediately led to campaign finance reform legislation and other good government measures. But at the same time, the scandal fed into a growing disillusionment and lack of faith in government that exists to this day.


Aerial view of the Watergate complex, site of June 17, 1972 burglary of Democratic National Committee Headquarters that became synonymous with the President Nixon cover up and eventual resignation. The break-ins occurred in the office building in the center.

In the early morning hours of June 17, 1972, a night guard at a D.C. hotel and office complex was making his rounds when he noticed a suspiciously taped-open exit door. He quickly alerted authorities, setting off a series of events that would forever change the nation.

More than 40 years later, the word Watergate is synonymous with political crime and corruption. In fact, it has become so ingrained in our collective conscience that just adding “-gate” to the end of a word instantly signifies a scandal.

On the day of the break-in at the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee, Acting FBI Director L. Patrick Gray was notified by teletype of the incident and that one of those arrested was the security officer for the Committee to Re-Elect the President. It was clear from the beginning that this was no ordinary burglary, and the FBI immediately found itself involved in the most politically sensitive investigation in its history. In the end, despite some issues in its own ranks, the Bureau’s exhaustive efforts were invaluable to unraveling the Watergate saga.

Visit the links below for more information, including the FBI's files on the massive investigation and records on former FBI Deputy Director Mark Felt, who identified himself as “Deep Throat” in 2005.

What was Watergate and why was it so important?

The release of an explosive new book by one of the journalists at the heart of the Watergate scandal has prompted comparisons between the Nixon and Trump administrations.

Fear: Trump in the White House, by Bob Woodward, goes on sale today, 46 years after a break-in at the Democratic Party HQ in the Watergate building triggered an investigation that uncovered illegal activities, cover-ups and conspiracies right in the heart of the White House.

Watergate, as it became known, eventually brought down president Richard Nixon, forcing him to resign, after it was revealed he had lied to the US public about his involvement in the burglary.

The impact of the crisis was so powerful that scandals around the world are still dubbed “gates”. But what actually happened, why was it so important - and can parallels really be drawn with the present day.

The cover-up

Police were called out to Watergate in the early hours of 17 June 1972 and arrested five men - Virgilio Gonzalez, Bernard Barker, James McCord, Eugenio Martinez and Frank Sturgis – who were attempting to break into the complex, carrying photographic equipment and bugging devices.

The subsequent FBI investigation uncovered address books belonging to two of the burglars linking them to former CIA agent E Howard Hunt, who had become a leading member of the Committee to Re-elect the President (officially the CRP, but commonly referred to as Creep), which was working to see Nixon back in the White House for a second term.

Creep’s activities ranged from the unethical to the illegal, including wiretapping, money-laundering, harassment of activist groups and even, says Irish news site The Journal, stealing the shoes of Democratic campaign workers.

It would later be discovered that Hunt and a fellow committee member, G Gordon Liddy, were in the hotel opposite Watergate during the break-in, guiding the burglars via walkie-talkie.

Despite the link to his campaign, Nixon categorically denied any White House involvement - but in private, the administration leaned on the CIA to put a stop to the FBI inquiry.

Woodward and Bernstein

Washington Post reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward were instrumental in providing the evidence that directly linked the burglary to the Nixon administration.

Crucial to their investigation was a source known only as “Deep Throat”, an anonymous FBI official finally identified in 2005 as the bureau’s deputy director, Mark Felt. He supplied the two journalists with vital leads and a simple but ultimately revelatory tip: “Follow the money.”

Doing so, Bernstein discovered one of the burglars had received a cheque for $25,000 from Creep, taken from campaign contributions.

The story was ignored by the most of the media and Nixon was easily re-elected in November 1972, but Woodward and Bernstein continued to pursue the connection between Watergate and the White House.

The book they would later write about it, All the President’s Men, was turned into a hit film starring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman in 1976.

Things fall apart

Six months after the break-in, burglar McCord, along with Liddy, was found guilty of conspiracy, burglary and wiretapping. Five other men, including Hunt, had already pleaded guilty.

But it was two months after that, in March 1973, when the Watergate affair truly came back with a bang. McCord, a former CIA agent, accused senior White House officials of pressuring him to give false testimony in order to disguise the administration’s involvement in illegal activities.

A few days later, fearing he was going to be used as a scapegoat in the scandal, Nixon’s legal counsel John Dean agreed to cooperate with investigators.

Two of the president’s closest aides, HR Haldeman and John Ehrlichman, along with attorney general Richard Kleindienst, resigned the following month.

Nixon was forced to accept responsibility for Watergate for the first time, although he continued to deny personal involvement. That was about to change.

The tapes

In May 1973, the United States was gripped as the Senate select committee on presidential activities began televised hearings into the case.

Witness testimony unravelled the connection between the White House and Creep’s dirty dealings, including Watergate.

But the most explosive revelation came from former White House official Alexander Butterfield, who revealed that all the conversations and phone calls in the Oval Office had been recorded since 1971.

A subpoena was immediately sent out to access the recordings. Nixon, however, refused, invoking presidential privilege.

“I am not a crook,” he told the US public in November of that year, as the legal wrangling continued.

It took a Supreme Court ruling in July 1974 to force him to hand over the tapes. The contents were damning. Recorded conversations “showed that Nixon had, contrary to repeated claims of innocence, played a leading role in the cover-up from the very start”, says the Washington Post.

Facing impeachment, Nixon resigned on 8 August 1974.

Forty-eight government officials were convicted of participating in the cover-up. The scandal was over, but its impact would continue to reverberate for years to come.

The aftermath

Watergate “was the worst scandal in American history for it was an attempt to subvert the American political process itself”, says PBS. Campaign finance reforms were enacted to minimalise the risk of any future legal misconduct, but the real damage was on a cultural level.

The US public were now “divided between disillusioned, defeated and bitter conservatives and mistrustful, alienated and confrontational liberals”, writes author Andrew Downer Crain.

However, the lasting legacy of Watergate has been the political polarisation of the US. Republicans and Democrats began to drift apart sharply in the wake of the scandal - and the rift only continues to grow with time.

Are there any parallels with modern politics?

“What would Watergate look like if it were to happen now?” The New York Times asks, before answering its own question: it looks like Donald Trump.

For months, “the Trump administration and its scandals have carried whiffs of Watergate and drawn comparisons to the characters and crimes of the Nixon era”, says CBS News.

In fact “nearly every element in Trump's trouble has a Watergate parallel”, the news organisation adds.

“This is a president who says things publicly that we know from the tapes that Nixon said privately,” Timothy Naftali, a New York University historian who directed the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, tells CBS. “It's as if Trump is wrestling with the history of Watergate openly. It's the president who is inviting these parallels.”

Special prosecutor Robert Mueller is leading an independent investigation sparked by a break-in at the Democratic National Committee, though this time the burglary was digital and linked to Moscow, not the Oval Office.

Tales from inside Trump’s White House have recently arrived in the form of an anonymous New York Times op-ed penned by a senior administration official, as well as the 448-page book by Woodward. These reports describe an administration in disorder, complete with an aloof president in Trump who appears incapable of leading the nation.

Andrew Hall, who was present when four of Nixon’s top advisers were sentenced to prison for their roles in Watergate, believes he is watching history repeat itself.

“The coverup is always worse than the crime,” Hall tells The Independent. “And this one is very shady. We have a sitting president who will undoubtedly be impeached.”

But so far Trump is not accused of any crime and the series of convictions against Trump campaign aides has not unearthed collusion between Russia and the campaign.

Therefore the parallels with Watergate only go so far, says Naftali.

Yet “Nixon's playbook for dirty tricks and abuse of power and political espionage is a useful source of questions for any investigation of an impulsive, erratic and potentially criminal presidency,” he adds. “We'll be watching. The Nixon presidency makes us smarter as we try to make sure that our presidents don't do what Nixon did.”

Watergate and the Constitution

When Richard Nixon resigned in 1974 in the wake of the Watergate scandal, it was only the second time in our history that impeachment of a President had been considered. Nearly every action taken with regard to the case had some constitutional significance. The document shown here deals with a specific question: Should the Watergate Special Prosecutor seek an indictment of the former President?

It is two pages of a three-page memorandum written for the Watergate Special Prosecutor in August 1974, after Richard Nixon resigned the Presidency and before President Ford pardoned him. (The third page adds one more item to the pro-indictment list and adds another category, "delay decision.")

The Office of the Special Prosecutor was created by Executive Order in May 1973 and twice faced the question of whether to seek an indictment of Richard Nixon. The first time was in March 1974, when the grand jury handed down indictments of seven White House aides for perjury and obstruction of justice.

President Nixon was named an "unindicted coconspirator" at that time because Watergate Special Prosecutor Leon Jaworski advised the grand jury that in his opinion a sitting President could not be indicted. In his view, the House Judiciary Committee was the appropriate body under the Constitution for examining evidence relating to the President.

The House Judiciary Committee pursued its constitutional mandate and drew up five articles of impeachment, three of which they approved in the summer of 1974. When the President was forced by the Supreme Court in August 1974 to surrender tape recordings that revealed his knowledge of the cover-up, even his staunchest supporters in the House admitted that they would have to vote in favor of impeachment. On August 9, 1974, President Richard Nixon resigned the Presidency and became citizen Richard Nixon.

Thus, for the second time the Watergate Special Prosecutor's Office faced the question of whether or not to seek an indictment. Article I, section 3, clause 7 of the Constitution provides that a person removed from office by impeachment and conviction "shall nevertheless be liable to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to the Law." But there are no guidelines in the Constitution about a President who has resigned. The memorandum shown here is typical of others in this file. It outlines reasons for and against pursuing an indictment against Richard Nixon. It is taken from Records Relating to Richard M. Nixon, Records of the Watergate Special Prosecution Force, Record Group 460.

The Document

Justice Department Memorandum Considering Indictment of Richard M. Nixon Page 1

Record Group 460 Records of the Watergate Special Prosecution Force National Archives and Records Administration

Justice Department Memorandum Considering Indictment of Richard M. Nixon Page 2

Record Group 460 Records of the Watergate Special Prosecution Force National Archives and Records Administration

Article Citation
Gray, Leslie and Wynell Burroughs Schamel. "Constitutional Issues: Watergate and the Constitution." Social Education 51, 2 (February 1987): 88-90.


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