Watergate Scandal Essay, Research Paper
Watergate Political scandals are not strangers to the United States. They dateback as far as 1830, with the presidential sex scandal and ThomasJefferson, and in 1875 with the Whiskey Ring and President Ulysses S.Grant (Time and Again 1). Today we have the Iran-Contra affair withRonald Reagan and Whitewater with Bill and Hillary Clinton. Even withthese, it can be argued that Watergate could possibly be the worstscandal 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 secondof five sons, in Yorba Linda, California. His parents were FrancisAnthony and Hannah Milhous Nixon. His career started in 1945 when heaccepted the candidacy for a seat in the 12th congressional district whichhe won. He was elected to United States Congress in 1946, he thenentered into the Senate as the youngest member ever in 1951. Only ashort two years later he became the second youngest vice-president inhistory at the age of thirty nine. He served two terms as vice Presidentunder President Dwight D. Eisenhower. In 1969 he won his bid for thePresidency(Kinsella 3). The Iran-contra affair was more of a U.S. foreign policy affair. Thisscandal came about in November of 1986 when President RonaldReagan admitted to the selling of arms to Iran. The overall goal was toimprove relations with Iran, but it soon came to light that it was more of atrade of arms for hostages deal. Later it was found that some of theprofits from the sale of the arms to Iran went to the Nicaraguan “contra”rebels. On Dec.24, 1992, President George Bush pardoned all thepeople involved with the scandal and no charges were filed againstRonald Reagan (Iran-contra 1). The latest of all scandals is the Whitewater affair. TheWhitewater affair is an ongoing investigation into a bad Arkansasreal-estate adventure in the late 1970, and its connection with the nowdefunct Arkansas savings and loan company, and with President BillClinton and his wife Hillary. The Whitewater development companystarted in 1979 and had the investors Bill Clinton, the Governor ofArkansas, his wife Hillary Rodham Clinton, a attorney for the Rose lawfirm, James B. McDougal the owner of the Madison Guaranty Savingsand Loan. The group purchased some land which later turned out to be abad venture. Sometime later the savings and loan went bankrupt at a costof sixty million dollars to the taxpayers. There was allegations of thediversion of funds from Whitewater through the Madison Saving andLoan to cover some of the campaign debts of the Clinton’s. There werealso allegations of whether the Clinton’s gained income-tax benefits fromthe failure of Whitewater that they were not entitled to. To date nocharges have been filed against President Clinton or his wife Hillary(Whitewater 1). The whole Watergate scandal, brought about charges of politicalbribery, burglary, extortion, wiretapping, conspiracy, obstruction ofjustice, destruction of evidence, tax fraud, and illegal use of the CIA andthe FBI, campaign contributions and taxpayers money for private matters.In all, more than 30 administration officials and other people in the Nixonadministration pleaded guilty or were found guilty of illegal acts (Time andAgain 2). The term “Watergate” came from the Watergate Hotel in WashingtonD. C. In addition to a hotel, the Watergate complex houses manybusiness offices, one which was the headquarters for the DemocraticNational 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 thecommittee to re-elect the President (NARA,1). After the Watergate scandal had been uncovered, another group ofillegal activities came to light. It was found that in 1971 a group of WhiteHouse officials commonly called the “Plumbers” had been doing whateverthey deemed necessary to stop any leaks that were originating from theWhite House. A grand jury later indicted John Ehrlichman and SpecialCounsel, Charles Colson and others for the burglary and the break-in atthe office of a psychiatrist to get damaging material on Daniel Ellsberg, theperson that had published classified documents called the PentagonPapers. It was also later discovered that the Nixon administration hadreceived large sums of illegal campaign funds and used them to pay forpolitical espionage and pay more than five hundred thousand dollars tothe five men that burglarized the Watergate Hotel (Infopedia,1). In 1972 , White House officials also testified that the Nixonadministration had falsified documents to make it look as though John FKennedy had been involved in the assassination of President Ngo DinhDiem of South Vietnam, and that they had also written some documentsaccusing Senator Hubert H. Humphery of moral improprieties(Infopedia2). After the Watergate burglars were linked to the committee to re-electthe President, official investigations were put into action. As more andmore evidence pointed toward presidential involvement, the mediabecame more confident and aggressive. Bob Woodard and CarlBernstein two reporters from the Washington Post, were veryinstrumental in the development of teams of investigative reporters aroundthe world. The term “Deep Throat” became a very common phrase forthe anonymous official who leaked valuable information to the reportersWoodard and Berstein(Farnsworth 6). Other leaders in the investigationwere Judge Sirica, The Sam Ervin committee and special prosecuterArchibald Cox. Archibald Cox was sworn in as the special prosecutor in May 1973.As Cox and the Ervin Committee pushed the President for tapes that hadbeen made in the White House, Richard Nixon ordered Attorney GeneralElloit 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 dismissCox and was fired by Nixon. This turn of events came to be known asthe “Saturday Night Massacre” and heightened the idea that the presidentwas more involved than previously thought (Grolier 1). EventuallyArchibald Cox was dismissed as special prosecutor by theSolicitor-General Robert Bork(Farnsworth 4). Between May and October of 1973, during special Senate hearings,Alexander Butterfield disclosed to the senate committee that some WhiteHouse tapes existed. Archibald Cox and the Senate WatergateCommittee 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 editedtranscripts of Oval Office conversations. All the tapes had suspiciousgaps. Not very satisfied with what they had received, Judge Siricasubpoenaed additional tapes. When Nixon refused to release theadditional tapes the case went before the Supreme Court. The courtdecision was that Nixon could withhold any tapes that was of concern toNational Security, but insisted that Watergate was a criminal matter. Thisruling later led to the case of UNITED STATES V. RICHARD NIXON(Grolier 1). On August 5,1974, Nixon than released three more tapes to thepublic. One of the tapes clearly revealed that he had taken many steps tostop the FBI’s investigation in the Watergate burglary. The tape alsomade it clear that the president had been actively involved in the cover-upfrom the very beginning(Grolier 1). The fight for the tapes started in the period between May and Octoberof 1973 when Alexander Butterfield disclosed to senate hearings that thetapes existed. The tapes led to the firing and resignation of many people,and allegations against Rose Mary Woods, Nixon’s secretary, that shehad deliberately erased select portions of the tapes as they were beingreleased ( Farnsworth 4). Although Nixon did release the tapes a few at atime, and what were released may have been edited, not all of the tapeshave been released to this day. This is why the tapes were given thename “The smoking gun”(Groiler 2). Although not all the tapes and files were released, the NixonPresidential Materials Staff ,a part of the National Archives and RecordsAdministrations, 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, theaudiovisual records, approximately five hundred thousand photographs,four thousand videotapes, four thousand, four hundred audiotapes, ninehundred and fifty white House tapes and one million feet of motion picturefilm, and more than thirty thousand gift items (NARA I). The Nixon Presidential Materials Staff have some of the recordsavailable for research. The material open to the public is approximatelytwo thousand two hundred and ten cubic feet of textual materials. Theyalso created a special flies unit. The special files unit was created inSeptember of 1972 and was to provide a storage location away from theWhite House Complex to store the selected sensitive files. Thesecomplete files are of a highly sensitive nature and consist of papers of theOffice of the President, the staff secretary, the offices of H.R. Haldernan,John Dean, Charles Closon. The following are the other groups that makeup 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 cubicfeet) J.Fred Buzhardt replaced John Dean as Counsel to the President (2cubic feet) 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 (4cubic feet) John D. Ehrlichman Counsel to the President (23 cubic feet) Alexander M. Haig Senior Military Assistant to the President (16cubic feet) 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 andRecords Administration and the Nixon Presidential MaterialsStaff(NARA 2). Richard Nixon, facing White Houseimpeachment and probable Senate Conviction, became the first U.S.chief executive to resign on August 9, 1974 (Grolier 1). It was laterreported that, Richard Nixon had arranged a deal with Vice-PresidentFord. The arrangement was, if Ford would full fill two requests, thatNixon would step down and make Gerald Ford the President. Thoseconditions were, Richard Nixon was to receive a full pardon andthat Ford would make sure that any information about Nixon’sinvolvement with the anti-Castro operations would be totally concealed(Secret 1972 2). With Gerald Ford stepping in to fill in the remainder ofthe term, Ford gave Nixon a full and absolute pardon in September1974(Grolier 1). Harry Robbins Haldeman was Nixon’s White House Chief of Staff.Haldeman was found guilty of conspiracy , obstruction of justice andperjury in the Watergate cover-up. Haldeman was given a four yearsentence and was paroled on Dec.20, 1978 after serving eighteenmonths. He later published a book about the scandal entitled The Ends ofPower 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 DemocraticNational Headquarters. For his part in the burglary Hunt was given a eightyear sentence. He was paroled on February 23, 1977 after serving thirtytwo months. Hunt went on to publish dozens of spy thrillers into the1990s(Grolier 1). John Newton Mitchell served as the Attorney General of the UnitedStates. He became chairman of the Committee to Re-Elect the Presidentin March of 1972. He was sentenced to four years for his conviction oncharges of conspiracy, obstruction of justice and perjury. He went on tolive quietly in Washington DC after his release from prison in January1979 (Grolier 1). John Wesley Dean was the counsel to the President. Dean testifiedthat the President was involved in the cover-up and also admitted his owninvolvement. He served a term of September 1974 to January 1975(Grolier 1). G. Gorden Liddy was recruited for the White House staff by AttorneyGeneral John Mitchell. For Liddy’s involvement in the Watergate burglaryat the Democratic Headquarters and the break-in at Ellsberg’spsychiatrist’s office, he received a twenty years prison sentence. On April12, 1977, President Carter changed Liddy’s sentence from twenty toeight years (Taylor 6). These are just a few examples of the more than 30 Nixon officials thatadmitted their quilt or were found guilty of illegal acts. Watergate gives us good material to look at for analyzing the differentarms of the government. Congressional committees ,senate and judiciary,have complete independence and great power. The Senate Watergatecommittees were crucial in getting the resignation of Nixon, while therecommendation by the Judiciary committee to try to impeach thepresident was carried in votes by both the Republican and Democraticmembers (Farnsworth 6). The power of the Supreme Court over the Executive branch wasshown with the ruling that Nixon must turn over the tapes of the OvalOffice (Farnsworth 7). The separation of powers means that no member of any of the threedifferent parts of the government may belong or be a member of another(Farnsworth 7). As a good example of the checks and balances, while the president isthe head of the government he cannot control the legislature. While thepresident has to appoint the Judicial arm of the government, they have tobe approved by the Senate. The president serves a four year term andcan only be removed from office by mpeachment. The Senate is the onlypart of the government that can impeach the president, but theimpeachment process must start in the Mouse of Representatives(Farnsworth 7). Different branches of goverment have separate responsibilities. Thepresident is on a fixed term and he is accountable to the House ofRepresentatives, the part of the government that most reflects the currentopinion of the nation. The Senate where each state has two senatorsregardless of population, is the only part that can remove the president(Farnsworth 8). Although the tapes played a major part in obtaining President Nixon’sresignation, legal actions taken by the President managed to keep all butthe forty hours of tapes from being released before his death twenty yearslater (Secret 1974 1). It is now some twenty five years after the beginning of Watergate, andthe Nixon tapes are still making the news. In a recent court battle, theNixon family lost their fight to keep the remaining tapes sealed. TheNational Archives have just released some two hundred hours of tapes,one which has President Nixon telling his chief of staff H.R. Haldeman tobreak into the Brookings Institution to remove documents concerning theVietnam War. The publisher of the Pentagon Papers, Daniel Ellsberg andformer Pentagon analyst, had several colleagues that worked at theBrooking Institution. Although there was never any record of a break-in at the Brookingsinstitution, all of this is just one more piece of evidence of the many illegalacts that accompanied the Watergate scandal, and was thought of orperformed by the Nixon Administration(Mercury I). end of paper
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