Watergate Essay, Research Paper
Randall D. Hutton
English Composition II
Dr. John Keeney
Thesis statement: Watergate could possibly be the worst scandal in
the history of the
1. Richard Nixon.
II. Latest scandals.
A. Iran Contra affair.
B. Whitewater affair.
C. John F.Kennedy
B. Special prosecutors.
C. Senate hearings.
D. Fight for tapes.
V. National Archives and Records Administration.
A. Material available for research.
B. Special Files Unit.
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end outline page 2
Political scandals are not strangers to the United States. They date
back as far as 1830, with the presidential sex scandal and Thomas
Jefferson, and in 1875 with the Whiskey Ring and President Ulysses S.
Grant (Time and Again 1). Today we have the Iran-Contra affair with
Ronald Reagan and Whitewater with Bill and Hillary Clinton. Even with
these, it can be argued that Watergate could possibly be the worst
scandal in the history of the United States.
Richard Milihous Nixon was the 37th President of the United States,
and the only President to ever resign his office. He was born the second
of five sons, in Yorba Linda, California. His parents were Francis
Anthony and Hannah Milhous Nixon. His career started in 1945 when he
accepted the candidacy for a seat in the 12th congressional district which
he won. He was elected to United States Congress in 1946, he then
entered into the Senate as the youngest member ever in 1951. Only a
short two years later he became the second youngest vice-president in
history at the age of thirty nine. He served two terms as vice President
under President Dwight D. Eisenhower. In 1969 he won his bid for the
The Iran-contra affair was more of a U.S. foreign policy affair. This
scandal came about in November of 1986 when President Ronald
Reagan admitted to the selling of arms to Iran. The overall goal was to
improve relations with Iran, but it soon came to light that it was more of a
trade of arms for hostages deal. Later it was found that some of the
profits from the sale of the arms to Iran went to the Nicaraguan “contra”
rebels. On Dec.24, 1992, President George Bush pardoned all the
people involved with the scandal and no charges were filed against
Ronald Reagan (Iran-contra 1).
The latest of all scandals is the Whitewater affair. The
Whitewater affair is an ongoing investigation into a bad Arkansas
real-estate adventure in the late 1970, and its connection with the now
defunct Arkansas savings and loan company, and with President Bill
Clinton and his wife Hillary. The Whitewater development company
started in 1979 and had the investors Bill Clinton, the Governor of
Arkansas, his wife Hillary Rodham Clinton, a attorney for the Rose law
firm, James B. McDougal the owner of the Madison Guaranty Savings
and Loan. The group purchased some land which later turned out to be a
bad venture. Sometime later the savings and loan went bankrupt at a cost
of sixty million dollars to the taxpayers. There was allegations of the
diversion of funds from Whitewater through the Madison Saving and
Loan to cover some of the campaign debts of the Clinton’s. There were
also allegations of whether the Clinton’s gained income-tax benefits from
the failure of Whitewater that they were not entitled to. To date no
charges have been filed against President Clinton or his wife Hillary
The whole Watergate scandal, brought about charges of political
bribery, burglary, extortion, wiretapping, conspiracy, obstruction of
justice, destruction of evidence, tax fraud, and illegal use of the CIA and
the FBI, campaign contributions and taxpayers money for private matters.
In all, more than 30 administration officials and other people in the Nixon
administration pleaded guilty or were found guilty of illegal acts (Time and
The term ?Watergate” came from the Watergate Hotel in Washington
D. C. In addition to a hotel, the Watergate complex houses many
business offices, one which was the headquarters for the Democratic
National Committee. It was here that the great scandal got its very start
(Farnsworth 1). In the early morning hours of June 17, 1972 a
security guard at the Watergate Hotel called police about a robbery.
Later, five men were arrested with evidence that linked them to the
committee to re-elect the President (NARA,1).
After the Watergate scandal had been uncovered, another group of
illegal activities came to light. It was found that in 1971 a group of White
House officials commonly called the “Plumbers” had been doing whatever
they deemed necessary to stop any leaks that were originating from the
White House. A grand jury later indicted John Ehrlichman and Special
Counsel, Charles Colson and others for the burglary and the break-in at
the office of a psychiatrist to get damaging material on Daniel Ellsberg, the
person that had published classified documents called the Pentagon
Papers. It was also later discovered that the Nixon administration had
received large sums of illegal campaign funds and used them to pay for
political espionage and pay more than five hundred thousand dollars to
the five men that burglarized the Watergate Hotel (Infopedia,1).
In 1972 , White House officials also testified that the Nixon
administration had falsified documents to make it look as though John F
Kennedy had been involved in the assassination of President Ngo Dinh
Diem of South Vietnam, and that they had also written some documents
accusing Senator Hubert H. Humphery of moral improprieties(Infopedia
After the Watergate burglars were linked to the committee to re-elect
the President, official investigations were put into action. As more and
more evidence pointed toward presidential involvement, the media
became more confident and aggressive. Bob Woodard and Carl
Bernstein two reporters from the Washington Post, were very
instrumental in the development of teams of investigative reporters around
the world. The term “Deep Throat” became a very common phrase for
the anonymous official who leaked valuable information to the reporters
Woodard and Berstein(Farnsworth 6). Other leaders in the investigation
were Judge Sirica, The Sam Ervin committee and special prosecuter
Archibald Cox was sworn in as the special prosecutor in May 1973.
As Cox and the Ervin Committee pushed the President for tapes that had
been made in the White House, Richard Nixon ordered Attorney General
Elloit L. Richardson to dismiss Cox as special prosecutor. On Oct 20,
1973 Elloit L. Richardson turned in his resignation, refusing to fire Cox.
William Ruckeishaus, the deputy Attorney General also refused to dismiss
Cox and was fired by Nixon. This turn of events came to be known as
the “Saturday Night Massacre” and heightened the idea that the president
was more involved than previously thought (Grolier 1). Eventually
Archibald Cox was dismissed as special prosecutor by the
Solicitor-General Robert Bork(Farnsworth 4).
Between May and October of 1973, during special Senate hearings,
Alexander Butterfield disclosed to the senate committee that some White
House tapes existed. Archibald Cox and the Senate Watergate
Committee began their push to listen to the tapes. Nixon claimed
“Executive Privilege” and refused to turn the tapes over for review
(Farnsworth 4). The President, on April 30, did release some edited
transcripts of Oval Office conversations. All the tapes had suspicious
gaps. Not very satisfied with what they had received, Judge Sirica
subpoenaed additional tapes. When Nixon refused to release the
additional tapes the case went before the Supreme Court. The court
decision was that Nixon could withhold any tapes that was of concern to
National Security, but insisted that Watergate was a criminal matter. This
ruling later led to the case of UNITED STATES V. RICHARD NIXON
On August 5,1974, Nixon than released three more tapes to the
public. One of the tapes clearly revealed that he had taken many steps to
stop the FBI’s investigation in the Watergate burglary. The tape also
made it clear that the president had been actively involved in the cover-up
from the very beginning(Grolier 1).
The fight for the tapes started in the period between May and October
of 1973 when Alexander Butterfield disclosed to senate hearings that the
tapes existed. The tapes led to the firing and resignation of many people,
and allegations against Rose Mary Woods, Nixon’s secretary, that she
had deliberately erased select portions of the tapes as they were being
released ( Farnsworth 4). Although Nixon did release the tapes a few at a
time, and what were released may have been edited, not all of the tapes
have been released to this day. This is why the tapes were given the
name ?The smoking gun”(Groiler 2).
Although not all the tapes and files were released, the Nixon
Presidential Materials Staff ,a part of the National Archives and Records
Administrations, Office of the Presidential Nixon administration, is
custodian for all the historical materials of the Nixon administration.
Their holdings include, some forty million pages of textual material, the
audiovisual records, approximately five hundred thousand photographs,
four thousand videotapes, four thousand, four hundred audiotapes, nine
hundred and fifty white House tapes and one million feet of motion picture
film, and more than thirty thousand gift items (NARA I).
The Nixon Presidential Materials Staff have some of the records
available for research. The material open to the public is approximately
two thousand two hundred and ten cubic feet of textual materials. They
also created a special flies unit. The special files unit was created in
September of 1972 and was to provide a storage location away from the
White House Complex to store the selected sensitive files. These
complete files are of a highly sensitive nature and consist of papers of the
Office of the President, the staff secretary, the offices of H.R. Haldernan,
John Dean, Charles Closon. The following are the other groups that make
up the special files and are only portions of the files(NARA1).
Desmond Barker Jr. Special Assistant to the President (1 cubic foot)
John R. Brown Ill Staff assistant to H.R. Haldeman (I cubic foot)
Patrick J. Buchanan Special Assistant to the President (9 cubic feet)
Stephen B. Bull Special Assistant to the President (2 cubic feet)
Alexander P. Butterfield Deputy Assistant to the President (3 cubic
J.Fred Buzhardt replaced John Dean as Counsel to the President (2
Dwight Chapin President’s Appointments Secretary (14 cubic feet)
Charles W. Colson Special Counsel to the President (45 cubic feet)
John W. Dean Counsel to the President (37 cubic feet)
Harry Dent Deputy counsel and Special Counsel to the President (4
John D. Ehrlichman Counsel to the President (23 cubic feet)
Alexander M. Haig Senior Military Assistant to the President (16
H.R. Haldeman President’s Chief of Staff (140 cubic feet)
President’s Office Files (38 cubic feet)
President’s Personal Files (65 cubic feet)
This is only a partial list of the files that are at the Nation Archives and
Records Administration and the Nixon Presidential Materials
Staff(NARA 2). Richard Nixon, facing White House
impeachment and probable Senate Conviction, became the first U.S.
chief executive to resign on August 9, 1974 (Grolier 1). It was later
reported that, Richard Nixon had arranged a deal with Vice-President
Ford. The arrangement was, if Ford would full fill two requests, that
Nixon would step down and make Gerald Ford the President. Those
conditions were, Richard Nixon was to receive a full pardon and
that Ford would make sure that any information about Nixon’s
involvement with the anti-Castro operations would be totally concealed
(Secret 1972 2). With Gerald Ford stepping in to fill in the remainder of
the term, Ford gave Nixon a full and absolute pardon in September
Harry Robbins Haldeman was Nixon’s White House Chief of Staff.
Haldeman was found guilty of conspiracy , obstruction of justice and
perjury in the Watergate cover-up. Haldeman was given a four year
sentence and was paroled on Dec.20, 1978 after serving eighteen
months. He later published a book about the scandal entitled The Ends of
Power in 1978 (Grolier 1).
Everette Howard Hunt was a CIA agent and an presidential aide.
Hunt was the director of the Watergate burglary at the Democratic
National Headquarters. For his part in the burglary Hunt was given a eight
year sentence. He was paroled on February 23, 1977 after serving thirty
two months. Hunt went on to publish dozens of spy thrillers into the
John Newton Mitchell served as the Attorney General of the United
States. He became chairman of the Committee to Re-Elect the President
in March of 1972. He was sentenced to four years for his conviction on
charges of conspiracy, obstruction of justice and perjury. He went on to
live quietly in Washington DC after his release from prison in January
1979 (Grolier 1).
John Wesley Dean was the counsel to the President. Dean testified
that the President was involved in the cover-up and also admitted his own
involvement. He served a term of September 1974 to January 1975
G. Gorden Liddy was recruited for the White House staff by Attorney
General John Mitchell. For Liddy’s involvement in the Watergate burglary
at the Democratic Headquarters and the break-in at Ellsberg’s
psychiatrist’s office, he received a twenty years prison sentence. On April
12, 1977, President Carter changed Liddy’s sentence from twenty to
eight years (Taylor 6).
These are just a few examples of the more than 30 Nixon officials that
admitted their quilt or were found guilty of illegal acts.
Watergate gives us good material to look at for analyzing the different
arms of the government. Congressional committees ,senate and judiciary,
have complete independence and great power. The Senate Watergate
committees were crucial in getting the resignation of Nixon, while the
recommendation by the Judiciary committee to try to impeach the
president was carried in votes by both the Republican and Democratic
members (Farnsworth 6).
The power of the Supreme Court over the Executive branch was
shown with the ruling that Nixon must turn over the tapes of the Oval
Office (Farnsworth 7).
The separation of powers means that no member of any of the three
different parts of the government may belong or be a member of another
As a good example of the checks and balances, while the president is
the head of the government he cannot control the legislature. While the
president has to appoint the Judicial arm of the government, they have to
be approved by the Senate. The president serves a four year term and
can only be removed from office by mpeachment. The Senate is the only
part of the government that can impeach the president, but the
impeachment process must start in the Mouse of Representatives
Different branches of goverment have separate responsibilities. The
president is on a fixed term and he is accountable to the House of
Representatives, the part of the government that most reflects the current
opinion of the nation. The Senate where each state has two senators
regardless of population, is the only part that can remove the president
Although the tapes played a major part in obtaining President Nixon’s
resignation, legal actions taken by the President managed to keep all but
the forty hours of tapes from being released before his death twenty years
later (Secret 1974 1).
It is now some twenty five years after the beginning of Watergate, and
the Nixon tapes are still making the news. In a recent court battle, the
Nixon family lost their fight to keep the remaining tapes sealed. The
National Archives have just released some two hundred hours of tapes,
one which has President Nixon telling his chief of staff H.R. Haldeman to
break into the Brookings Institution to remove documents concerning the
Vietnam War. The publisher of the Pentagon Papers, Daniel Ellsberg and
former Pentagon analyst, had several colleagues that worked at the
Although there was never any record of a break-in at the Brookings
institution, all of this is just one more piece of evidence of the many illegal
acts that accompanied the Watergate scandal, and was thought of or
performed by the Nixon Administration(Mercury I).
end of paper
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