The Watergate scandal is a well known scandal which is linked with Richard Milhous Nixon the ex-president of United States of America. Watergate is basically a common term that is used for a number of political scandals. The Watergate scandal began with the arrest of five men who broke in the main offices of Democratic National Committee at Washington D. C at the hotel called Watergate Complex on June 17,1972.
On June 17,1972 a security guard, Frank Wills, at the Watergate Complex, discovered several doors whose locks were covered with tape.
he called the police immediately and within some minutes five men were comprehended inside the headquarters’ of Democratic National Committee. The who were arrested were Virgilio Gonzalez, Bernard Baker, James W. McCord Jr. , Frank Sturgis and Eugenio Martinez. These men were charged with burglary and also with the interception of telephone lines and other kinds of communication.
These men were indicted by a grand jury with two other men as well; E.
Howard Hunt, Jr. and Gordon Liddy for the burglary and for the violation of federal wire-tapping laws and as well as for conspiracy on 15th September, 1972. In March 1973 James W. McCord Jr. wrote a letter to the Judge John J. Sirica. (James and Gordon Liddy had not cooperated and were charged with various charges and were sentenced to prison).
In the letter to the judge he claimed that the high ranked officials had pressured the other defendants to plead guilty. As soon as the release of the letter this cased moved from a police case to a major political scandal. The significance of this scandal is that it showed the existence of White House dirty tricks team, which was behind the political sabotage of a campaign, with the help of the high ranked officials at the White House.
Through this scandal it revealed that the involvement of Attorney General John N. Mitchell. The link between the presidents re-election campaign and the break-in at the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee was focused by the media coverage. the coverage of the scandal rapidly increased the profile of the crimes and the consequents political repercussions. the anonymous source who fed the tips went by the code name of “Deep Throat”.
Deep Throat’s secret was revealed on May 31,2005. The Vanity Fair Magazine identified an ex-FBI official named Mark Felt as the anonymous source called Deep Throat. Mark Felt helped the two POST reporters; Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein to uncover the information that gave the knowledge of the break-in and the attempts that were made to cover up the whole scandal or the mess which led deep into the FBI, the CIA, the Justice Department and even into the White House as well.
The political investigations began in February 1973 when the senate established a committee to investigate the Watergate Scandal, Sam Ervin led this Committee. On May 19, 1973 President Richard Nixon appointed a new Attorney General Archibald Cox. Before appointing Archibald Cox to the position televised hearing had began 2 days before. The hearings were held by the senate committee and in that White House Counsel John Dean was the star who was fired by Richard Nixon; Dean had become the key witness against the president.
And in the hearings many other key administrations officials gave testimonies which caused a lot of political damage to Nixon. These hearings were broadcasted from the 17th May to 7th August 1973. On July 13,1973 there was a major break through in the Watergate scandal when the Assistant Minority Counsel, Donald Sanders, asked Alexander Butterfield if there were any kind of recording equipment in the White House. Mr.
Butterfield admitted to the fact that there was a recorder that automatically recorded everything in the Oval Office. It was also found that other rooms were also bugged and even including the Nixon private office, where almost all of his meetings were held. The shocking revelation rapidly transformed the investigation. The tapes were subpoenaed by Cox and the senate. The President told Cox to drop his subpoena. Cox refused to do that which led to Saturday Night Massacre, which happened on October 20, 1973.
when Nixon forced the resignations of Richardson and Deputy William Ruckelshaus in search of someone in the Justice Department who was willing to fire Cox. The search for a such a person ended when he found Solicitor General Robert Bork and as the new department head he dismissed Cox. The reaction of the people of United States was intense people started protest and carrying signs which said ” HONK TO IMPEACH” . Which forced Nixon to hire a new special prosecutor Leon Jaworski who continued with the investigation.
Nixon’s position was becoming precarious the House of Representatives began formal investigations into the possible impeachment of the president Nixon. in August 1974 a unknown tape from June 23, 1972 was released. Which was recorded a couple of days after the break-in at the Watergate. It was a conversation between Nixon and Haldeman who made a plan to block investigations by having the CIA lie to the FBI that The National Security was involved. The tape was referred to as a Smoking Gun.
Whatever little supporters Nixon had deserted him. The Congress Members who had voted against the impeachment of the president now agreed to support it. On August 8, 1974 Nixon announced that he would resign, which will be effective from noon on Friday, 9th August 1974. On September 8, 1974 President Gerald Ford gave Nixon a full pardon for any crimes the he has committed while he was President. The effects of the Watergate scandal did not end with the resignation of the President Nixon or the imprisonment of some of his aides.
The Watergate scandal cause a lot of changes in the campaign financing. The scandal became a dividing factor in the Freedom of Information Act 1986. Presidents since Franklin D. Roosevelt had recorded many of their conversation after the Watergate scandal the practice of recording was ended. The scandal severely damaged the reputation of the Legal Profession in the eyes of the public because people handling this case and people involved in the scandal were lawyers.
The Watergate has left a major impression within the US and as well as internationally. That many such scandals since than have been labeled gate for example Korea gate, White Watergate and Travel gate etc.
1. The Watergate Story www. washingtonpost. com/wp-srv/politics/special/watergate/index. html 2. The Watergate Files www. ford. utexas. edu/museum/exhibits/watergate_files/index. html 3. Watergate Scandal www. history1900s. about. com/od/watergatescandal/Watergate_Scandal. htm