Watergate1

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.
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;
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
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
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
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
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.”
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)
Bibliography:

Bibliography
Gold, Gerald ed. Watergate hearings. New York: Bantam books, 1978.

Westerfled, Scott. Watergate. Englewood Cliffs: Silber Burdett,
1991.

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“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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