The Infamous Watergate Scandal


"The Watergate Complex is a series of modern buildings with 
balconies that looks like filed down Shark's Teeth" (Gold, 1). 
Located on the Potomac River in Washington, D.C. it contains many 
hotel rooms and offices. What happened in the complex on June 17, 
1972 early in the morning became a very historical event for our 
nation that no one will ever forget.
 The "Watergate Scandal" and constitutional crisis that began on 
June 17, 1972 with the arrest of five burglars who broke into the 
Democratic National Committee (DMC) headquarters at the Watergate 
office building in Washington D.C. It ended with the registration of 
President Richard M. Nixon on August 9, 1974. (Watergate)
 At approximately 2:30 in the morning of June 17, 1972 five men 
were arrested at the Watergate Complex. The police seized a walkie 
talkie, 40 rolls of unexposed film, two 35 millimeter cameras, lock 
picks, pensized teargas guns, and bugging devices. (Gold, 75)
 These five men and two co-plotters were indicated in September 
1972 on charges of burglary, conspiracy and wire tapping. Four months 
later they were convicted and sentenced to prison terms by District 
Court Judge John J. Sercia was convinced that relevant details had 
not been unveiled during the trial and offered leniency in exchanged 
for further information. As it became increasingly evident that the 
Watergate burglars were tied closely to the Central Intelligence 
Agency and the Committee to re-elect the president. (Watergate)
Four of these men, that were arrested on the morning of June 17, 1972, 
came from Miami, Florida. They were Bernard L. Barker, Frank A. 
Sturgis, Virgillio R. Gonzalez, and Eugenio R. Martinez. The other 
man was from Rockville, Maryland named James W. McCord, Jr. The two 
co-plotters were G. Gordon Liddy and E. Howard Hunt. (Watergate)
 The senate established and investigative committee headed by 
Senate Sam Ervin, Jr., to look into the growing scandal. As they were 
investigating, they related that the famous break-in was far more 
involved than what everyone had expected. (Watergate) The White Houses 
involvement of that morning first became evident when James McCord 
wrote a letter to Judge Sirca. In this letter McCord explained that 
he wanted to disclose the details of Watergate. He made it apparent 
that he would not speak to a Justice department official of an FBI 
agent. Although his letter did unveil details, it made server 
chargers. McCord justified that "Political pressure" (Westerfled 36) 
had generated many defendants to plead guilty and remain silent. He 
also claimed that there had been whiteness at the trail who had 
committed perjury in order to protect the people who headed the 
brake-in. McCord declared that he, his family, and his friend may be 
in danger if he spoke out. (Westerfled 36-37)
 The Senate Watergate Committee saw their chance to unravel the 
mystery of this scandal. The offered James McCord a chance to speak 
publicly. In his first meeting with representatives of this committee 
he named two more people that he claimed were involved in the burglary 
and cover-up. Theses two men were John Dean and Jeb Margruder. 
Margruder was the second-in-charge of the CRP and Dean was a White 
House aid. After hearing these substantial accusations the Senate 
Watergate Committee promptly subpoenaed John Dean and Jeb Margruder. 
(Westerfled 37-38).
 After the next session with James McCord he took the whiteness 
stand and explained how Liddy had promised him an executive pardon if 
he would plead guilty. This began to question the a White House 
involvement since only the president could present such a pardon. 
(Westerfled, 40) Jeb Margruder was the next witness to testify. He 
admitted his own perjury to the Grand Jury and verified what McCord 
had said. While on the stand he also revealed another name to add to 
the list of those involved, John Mitchell. (Gold, 246-247)
 The next witness scheduled to appear was John Dean. In Dean's 
testimony he exposed that the Watergate burglary had been only a part 
of a greater abuse of power. He said that for four years the White 
House had used the powers of the presidency to attack political 
enemies. They spied on and harassed anyone who did not agree with 
Nixon's policies. If a reporter wrote stories criticizing the White 
House they would be singled out for tax investigations. The White 
House also kept an "Enemies List" (Westerfled 43) of people that the 
presidents men wanted revenge on. After being fired, dean kept 
official documents that supported his statements. (Westerfled 43-44; 
Gold 309-330)
 John Dean said, is his opening statements, that he had discussed 
the cover-up with president Nixon in several meetings. At the first 
meeting, in September 1972, he told the president how he and other 
members of the White House had handled the cover-up so far. Dean 
claimed that in another important meeting with Nixon, on March 21, 
1973, the president agreed $1 million should be raised to silence the 
burgalers. However Dean said that he dealt with the president mostly 
through H.R. Haldman and John Ehrlichman. (Gold 266-308; Westerfled 
 Dean faced the committee for four days of Questioning, after his 
opening statement. During these four days the republicans focused on 
what happened in these meetings between Dean and the president, which 
was the only evidence the president. The question that Senator baker 
asked and was being wondered throughout the nation was, what did the 
president know and when did he know it? (Westerfled, 43) The Nixon 
administration tackled Dean's reports of the two meetings. They 
claimed that the March 21, 1973 meeting was the first Nixon had heard 
of the cover-ups. The White House's version was they the president 
had rejected the burglars' blackmail. (Hearings 02)
 For the first time in this intriguing scandal the president 
himself had been accused. This was the greatest blow the Nixon White 
House had sustained. "polls showed that 70 percent of TV viewers 
believed Deans version of the event" (Westerfled, 43). But who was to 
be believed? It was John Deans Word against Richard Nixon's. (Gold 
669-670; Westerfled, 43) The committee then made a shocking discovery, 
only a few weeks after Deans testimony. As the committee was managing 
a routine aid, they asked him how the White House administration came 
up with their version of what happened in the meeting s of Dena and 
Nixon. His response was that the meetings had probably been recorded 
on tape. (Westerfled 43)
 Alexander Butterflied explained that the White House had been 
equipped with a recording system. They were installed in his two 
offices, the Oval Room "The taping device was spring load to a voice 
actuation situation." (Gold 436) In Alexander Butterfields testimony 
he said that the recording system was installed to help preserve all 
documents. The only people who knew of these recording devices were 
the president, Haledman, Kigbe, Butterfield, and the secret service 
people. (Gold 434-442)
 Now the committee had stumbled across exactly what they were 
looking for, a way to prove the presidents innocence of guilt. The 
tapes of the meeting s between Dean and Nixon were lying some where in 
the White House. These tapes would show which of these men were lying 
and if the president of the united States had been involved in a 
criminal conspiracy. Although when the senate asked him for the tapes 
the President refused, but why?
 On July 17, 1973 the Senate Committee went directly to the 
president about their request. Congress wanted the tapes of all the 
important meetings. President Nixon refused. The Committee decided 
to subpoena the tapes that afternoon. (Westerfled 45) On the same day, 
July 17, 1973, special Prosecutor Archibald Cox had also subpoenaed 
the tapes. He declared that they were significant for the grand 
jury's criminal investigation. This was the first time anyone had 
ever subpoenaed the president of the United States, and Nixon has two 
subpoenas in one day. Although the White House claimed that neither 
Congress nor the special prosecutor had the right to demand evidence 
from the executive branch and refused to obey. (Westerfled 45)
 This started a powerful struggle. The Senate Committee wondered 
if they could find the president in contempt of congress which would 
be a serious legal charge. But they didn't know who would be a 
serious legal charge. But they didn't know who would arrest him since 
the president controlled the Department of Justice, the FBI, and the 
Armed Forces. The committee had to think quick and come up with 
another way to get the tapes. Cox and the grand jury was going to sue 
for the tapes in federal court. The committee decided to follow the 
special prosecutor's lead. (Westerfled 43) Both lawsuits went to Judge 
John Sirca, the same judge who presided the trials of the Watergate 
burglars. Judge Sirca charged the president to turn over the tapes to 
the special prosecutor. When the White House Appealed the decision 
the case went to the Federal Court of appeals. (Westerfled 43)
Another scandal in the White House shocked the nation. The Department 
of Justice announced that they had been investigating Vice President 
Spiro T. Anew for taking large bribes in return for government 
contracts. He then resigned from office October 10, 1973. (Westerfled 
 On October 15, 1973 the court of appeals sustained Judge Sirca's 
ruling and demanded that the president give the subpoenaed tapes to 
the Special Prosecutor, Archibald Cox. Nixon ordered Cox not to 
subpoena any more tapes, although Cox said he would do so. Cox also 
told him that if he refused he would find him in contempt of the 
court. (Westerfled 45) Nixon was beyond furious. Cox was a employee 
of the executive branch and questioning the authority of the 
president. Nixon ordered Richardson's deputy attorney general William 
D. Ruckelshavs to fire Cox. He also refused and was fired. The 
third-ranking Justice Department official, Solicitor General Robert H. 
Bork, was now acting as Attorney General. He agreed to fire Cox. 
This event was called the "Saturday Massacre." (Westerfled 48)
 The nation raged in anger. So Nixon agreed to hand the tapes 
over to Sirca's court and appoint a new Special Prosecutor. The new 
prosecutor was Leon Jaworski. Jaworski was a very well known lawyer 
and accepted the offer on the one condition that Nixon could not fire 
him. (Westerfled 48-49) As the presidents lawyers were going over the 
tapes preparing them for the special prosecutor they made an alarming 
discovery. During a conversation between Nixon and Haldman there was 
an 18-minute gap. This made the nation lose even more faith in their 
president. (Westerfled 49)
 On April 11, 1974 Special Prosecutor Jaworski demanded the White 
House turn over 69 more tapes. Once again the Supreme Court ruled 
that Nixon had to supply the subpoenaed tapes. (Westerfled 51-54)
"On July 27-30, the House Judiciary Committee, whose public hearings 
had disclosed evidence of illegal White house activities, recommended 
that Nixon be impeached on three charges: obstruction of Justice, 
abuse of presidential power, and trying to impede the impeachment 
process by defying committee subpoenas." (Watergate) Millions of 
people watched the committee vote on television. There were 
twenty-seven votes for the impeachment and only eleven against it. He 
was accused of misuse of his authority and also violating the 
constitutional rights of citizens by ordering the FBI and Secret 
Services to spy on American citizens. The last thing he was charged 
with was refusing to obey congress's subpoenas. Nixon had broken his 
oath to up hold the law. (Watergate)
 With the impeachment vote against him, Nixon would have to stand 
trial before the U.S. senate. Two-thirds of the senate would have to 
vote for impeaching the president. Nixon would be removed from 
office. (Westerfled 46) On August 5, 1974 the White House released an 
overdue transcript of the tapes. The recording was from June 23, 
1972, only a week after the break-in. This tape told how Nixon 
ordered Haldeman to tell the CIA to cease the FBI"s investigation of 
Watergate. These tapes made it clear that Nixon was involved in the 
cover-up from the beginning. (Westerfled 56)
 At nine o'clock August 8, 1974 Nixon made his last speech as 
president Richard M. Nixon. He only admitted loosing the support he 
had from Congress. He said "I have never been a quitter, to leave 
office before my term is complete is abhorrent to ever instinct in my 
body. But, as president, I must put the interest of America first. 
America needs a full-time president and a full-time Congress. 
Therefore, In shall resign the presidency effective at noon tomorrow." 
(Westerfled 57)
 The next morning Nixon addressed a tearful White House staff. 
He then boarded a helicopter and began his journey home to San 
Clemente, California. (Westerfled 57) At noon the Vice President, 
Gerald R. Ford, was inaugurated. He became the thirty-seventh 
president of the United States. He told the American people in his 
first speech "Our long national nightmare is over." (Westerfled 57)


Gold, Gerald ed. Watergate hearings. New York: Bantam books, 1978.
Westerfled, Scott. Watergate. Englewood Cliffs: Silber Burdett, 
"Watergate". Grolier Electronic Publishing. 1992.
The New grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia. Danbury, CT: Grolier 
Electronic Publising Inc., 1993.
Microsoft Encarta. Microsoft Corporation: Funk & Wagnalls 
Corporation, 1993.


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