The term “Watergate” has become a common household name in correlation with people’s thoughts about corruption in government. President Nixon was in office at the time of this scandal and is often thought to be the most famous face in America’s conspiracy of wickedness in the government. The Watergate scandal had rocked everything our country thought we knew about the American Presidency because it had forfeited the common vision of the leader of the nation. Watergate had replaced the image of elegance and worldliness of the U. S.
President with a scattered vision of corruption and extreme competitive measures that the country had never been a part of. Richard Nixon and his men had taken unauthorized recordings of his reelection competition and other illegal activities such as accepting prohibited campaign contributions. Richard Nixon was born in 1913 and was placed into a life of academics and politics. He attended Whittier College and Duke University Law School. He was, elected to the senate in 1950. From there General Eisenhower selected Nixon to be his Presidential running mate as the Vice President.
He served many duties and many responsibilities for President Eisenhower. Later, in 1960 he ran for office against John F. Kennedy and lost by a close defeat. Then two short years later he ran for Governor of California and again was unsuccessful. His luck seemed to have changed less than a decade later when he was nominated for presidency in 1968. He had convinced America that in return for their selection of himself to be their leader, he would make peace from the turmoil that was the United States during the Vietnam war. In a small defeat against Hubert H.
Humphrey, he rose to the exclusive title of President1. In his first term, before the Watergate scandal, President Nixon had made some notable achievements. He visited Russia to negotiate a treaty for limiting of nuclear weapons, as well as easing cold war tensions2. He had also begun the withdrawl of troops from Vietnam. One of the most widely unknown facts about President Nixon is the fact that during his second term election he possessed one of the largest defeats in campaign history against opposing candidate George McGovern2.
This time in between his Presidency and his reelection was probably the most crucial time in Nixon’s career. The fact that he had faced two losing campaigns before was probably to account for the amount of stress that he was under to win his second term in office. The Watergate scandal occurred during Nixon’s at this time of reelection. The event happened with many contributing factors, therefore it is safe to say that did not remain discreet from the American citizens for long. The beginning of the scandal was the moment that sparked the national eye on the event of Watergate.
Richard Nixon’s downfall began with a break-in at 2:30 a. m, June 17th 1972 at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate complex in Washington D. C: Five men were arrested. One of the men was a supposed former federal agent and contributed his knowledge of the layout of the building (it may have been easy to tell that he had been there a few times)3. From knowing the circumstances of the few pieces of evidence the government had, there had begun an investigation into the twisted nature of the break in3.
The Washington Post entitled their headline “Five Held in Plot to Bug Democratic Offices Here,” of their June 18th, 1972 front page as this became the factor that sparked the public suspicion of the nature of the events following the next few years. 4 Along with the country following with a watchful eye, two reporters from the Washington Post were intrigued by this story to the extent that they took into their own hands to investigate this sketchy affair.
The five men detained were immediately investigated, and upon their findings the police discovered the bank accounts of the men involved in the break- in had a $25,000 check deposited into their account that was traced back to the Nixon re-election campaign efforts5. The purpose of this break in was to “bug” the Democratic Offices in effort to aid Nixon’s attempt to win a second term6. The police on the scene had taken into custody: 40 rolls of undeveloped film, two cameras, a radio device, listening devices that had phone listening capabilities long with being able to pick up conversations in the room, and “pen-size tear gas guns”7
Two reporters from the Washington post named Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward had taken an interest in this event and perhaps maybe even knew there was more to it. Two days after the scandal at the Democratic Headquarters, Bob Woodward called in a favor from whom he referred to as “an old friend”, who came to be known as “Deep Throat”123. He was later revealed to be a high ranking federal agent who met with the reporters in extreme caution and secrecy to reveal details of the investigation into the Watergate scandal.
An important detail of Deep Throat’s significance is that he expressed the confidential tapings of White House conversations, to which only a few people at the time knew about existed. He also disclosed that there was 18 ? minutes of the recordings that were missing, suggesting that the missing time was blank on purpose19. The identity of Deep Throat remained a mystery for over thirty years, when a man named Mark Felt revealed himself confirming that he had in fact retained high authority in the time of the ordeal21. The next few months in time were a very closely followed series of events.
Not long after the initial break-in at the Democratic Party Headquarters occurred, the FBI concluded that the investigation of the incident had ties to major campaign sabotage planned against opposing candidate’s party Senator George McGovern of South Dakota7. In an article by the Washington Post it says that, “During their Watergate investigation, federal agents establish that hundreds of thousands of dollars in Nixon campaign contributions has been set aside to pay for an extensive undercover campaign aimed at discrediting Democratic Presidential candidates and disrupting their campaigns. 9 However all of this uncovering of events intermingled with speculation did not seem to effect America’s opinion of Nixon. By one of the widest margins of defeat in Presidential history, Nixon crushed his opponent receiving more than 2/3 of the vote8. Within months of the start of his second term, chaos became synonymous with the White House. On January 30th, 1973 G. Gordon Liddy and James W. McCord Jr (both of whom were former “aides” to Nixon) were convicted of “conspiracy, burglary and wiretapping in the Watergate incident”9.
Then two of Nixon’s White House employees, John Ehrlichman and H. R Haldeman, resigned in conjunction with Attorney General Richard Kleindienst10. This series of events was starting to uncover a new world of measures the citizens of America did not know was possible for the government to reach. President Nixon, at this time, still insisted that he was innocent, stating “I’m not a crook. ”11 Meanwhile his colleagues and subordinates were falling one by one. President Nixon was being cornered with surfaced recordings that he ordered to be taken in all of his offices without permission since 197112.
The staff writers of the New York Times put it best when they restated words of John Dean saying, “There’s a cancer growing on the presidency. ”13 The scandal had become a household topic, with more and more pressure building on the government to conduct investigations and take into possession the tapes of the recorded conversations that President Nixon possessed. He claimed “Executive privilege”, meaning that he had the right to bear confidential accounts because he was the president14.
Following long tedious court hearings, Nixon continued to refuse to give up the tapes, even firing a man who refused his proposal to give written content of the tapes. On July 24th, 1974 the Supreme Court unanimously ordered the possession of the recordings to be handed over to Congress. In a battle between the powers of checks and balances, he was forced to give up the actual recordings he had kept secret for so long16. (Although he released transcripts of the “recordings” to the public, the Washington Post claimed that they were probably altered saying they were, “candid beyond any papers ever made public by a president. 17) Within two days of his release of the cassettes, an order for impeachment had been given for Nixon’s actions making it an end to his reign of Presidency15 President Nixon resigned with a teary eyed speech, after many attempts to keep his secret tapes in his own possession. After being granted a pardon of all crimes during presidency, Richard Nixon took a step into the shadows to remain in peace and quiet until he died years later. The Watergate scandal was the realization of all Americans that even a President is human. The events from 1972-1974 cast an enormous spotlight on he actions of the government behind closed doors. All pieces of evidence were interpreted to prove that Richard Nixon had been in association with affairs including recordings of non-authorized White House conversations, attempt at “bugging” the Democratic National Party’s headquarters and other illegal acts. Nixon qualified to be the first president that could have been removed following impeachment had he not resigned before receiving consequences for his actions. Watergate: Analysis of a Presidential Crisis Bernstein, Carl. All the President’s Men. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1974 Harry Ransom Center. Deep Throat Exposed. ” Harry Ransom Center: University of Texas at Austin http://www. hrc. utexas. edu/exhibitions/web/woodstein/deepthroat/ (accessed April 12th, 2011) Miller, Marvin. The Breaking of a President 1974: The Nixon Connection. City of Industry: Therapy Productions, 1975. The New York Times Staff. The Watergate Hearings: Break-in and Cover-up. New York: Viking Press, 1973. Spartacus Educational. “Deep Throat. ” Spartacus Educational. http://www. spartacus. schoolnet. co. uk/JFKdeepthroat. htm (accessed April 12, 2011). The Washington Post. “Part 1: The Post Investigates. The Washington Post . http://www. washingtonpost. com/wpsrv/politics/special/watergate/part1. html, (accessed April 1 12th, 2011). The Washington Post. “Part 2: The Government Acts. ” The Washington Post. http://www. washingtonpost. com/wpsrv/politics/special/watergate/part2. html, (accessed April 12, 2011). The Washington Post. “Part 3: Nixon Resigns. ” The Washington Post. http://www. washingtonpost. com/wp-srv/politics/special/watergate/part3. html (accessed April April 12th, 2011). The Washington Post. “Part 4: Deep Throat Revealed. ” The Washington Post. ttp://www. washingtonpost. com/wp-srv/politics/special/watergate/part4. html, (accessed April 12th, 2011). The Washington Post. “Timeline. ” The Washington Post. http://www. washingtonpost. com/wp-srv/onpolitics/watergate/chronology. htm, (accessed April 12th, 2011). Watergate Info. “Brief Timeline of Events. ” Watergate Info. http://watergate. info/chronology/brief. shtml, (accessed April 12, 2011. The White House. “Richard M. Nixon 1969-1974. ” The White House President Barack Obama . http://www. whitehouse. gov/about/presidents/richardnixon (accessed April 12th, 2011).