Watergate Scandal In The White House Essay

Watergate; Scandal In The White House Essay, Research Paper The Watergate Scandal was a series of crimes committed by the President Nixon and his staff members who were found to of spied on and harassed political

Watergate; Scandal In The White House Essay, Research Paper

The Watergate Scandal was a series of crimes committed by the President Nixon

and his staff members who were found to of spied on and harassed political

opponents, accepted illegal campaign contributions, and covered up their own


On June 17, 1972, The Washington Post published a small story. In which the

reporters stated that five men had been arrested breaking into the headquarters

of the Democratic National Committee. These bumbling fools had made two attempts

prior; the first time they were halted in their efforts due to what they thought

was an alarm, their second attempt the next day led them to no better

conclusion, when they were confronted by a locked door, which they were unable

to open. Finally on the third day (Sunday) having sent the locksmith back to

Miami on a day round trip, they got the door wrenched open and went in. (Emery,


The democratic headquarters were located in a Washington, D.C. building complex

called Watergate. These burglars were carrying equipment to wiretap telephones

and take pictures of documents. The Washington Post had two reporters who

researched deep into the story. Their names were Carl Bernstein and Bob

Woodward, they discovered that one of the suspects had an address book with the

name and phone number of a White House official who could have been involved in

the crime (Woodward). The reporters suspected that other White House officials

had ordered the break-in. During a press conference in August of 1972, president

Nixon said that nobody on the White House staff was involved in the crime. Most

of the public accepted Nixon’s word and dropped the questioning. But when the

burglars went to trial four months later. The story changed rapidly from a small

disturbance to a national scandal, which ended only when Richard Nixon was

forced from office. The Watergate investigation eventually exposed a long series

of illegal activities in the Nixon administration. Nixon and his staff were

found to have spied on and harassed political opponents, embezzled campaign

contributions and tried to cover-up their illegal acts.

For years Nixon was carrying on the crimes and they were not noticed until 1972.

1969 was the date in which the Watergate scandal really began.

It all started when Nixon had the White House staff make up a list called the

enemies list. Nixon had enemies, which include about 300 liberal politicians,

journalists and actors. Most of these people made a public speech against the

Vietnam War. Nixon’s aids formed a tax audit on these `enemies’ (Feinberg, 75).

He also had agents find out personal information that would harm them

politically. Nixon was always worried about government employees revealing

secret information to the newspapers or other media sources. The president’s

agents helped him by wiretapping phone lines that belonged to reporters in order

to find out any revealing material. Nixon was so worried about internal

espionage that during the Cambodia bombing he felt he had to wiretap his own

staff members. In June of 1971, The New York Times formed work that was

published about the history of the Vietnam War; these were known as the Pentagon

Papers. The classified information pointed towards some policies that may have

been responsible for causing the Vietnam War. Daniel Ellsberg, a former

employee, gave some classified documents to the Washington post. Nixon was

infuriated by their publishes. Nixon then tried to twist Ellsberg’s actions into

a form of treason, but Nixon did not want to take Ellsberg to court. Instead he

made a secret group of CIA agents that went by the code name plumbers this is a

name made up “because they cover up leaks”(Schudson, p.18), that could hurt the

White House, such as the pentagon papers. While they were searching for

incriminating evidence the “Plumbers” stumbled across Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s

office. Although they discovered nothing wrong they were not content to leaving

Ellsberg alone and it is believed that they had initiated a plan to try and

further discredit Ellsberg’s reputation (Watergate, Cover-up).

One of Nixon’s biggest worries was about having enough votes for the election in

1972. Nixon was concerned that Edmund Muskie of Maine would win because he was

the strongest Democratic candidate. Hoping to wipe out Edmund from the

competition, the Plumbers began to play a bunch of so called `dirty tricks’

(Schudson, 26). They issued false statements in Muskie’s name and told the press

false rumors about him, so that the plumbers could publish it to the public.

Worst of all, they sent a letter to the New Hampshire newspaper stating that

Muskie was making mean remarks about French Canadian ancestry. All of these

slurs enabled Nixon to gain further ground on Muskie in the elections. Despite

Nixon’s efforts the Democratic nomination went to George McGovern, a liberal

senator from South Dakota. His supporters included many people who backed the

civil rights, anti-war and environmental movements of the 1960s. McGovern had

fought to make the nomination process more open and democratic. Congress had at

that time passed the 23rd amendment of the Constitution allowing

eighteen-year-Olds to vote. As a result, the 1972 Democratic Convention was the

first to include large numbers of woman, minorities and a younger crowd among

the delegates. McGovern’s campaign ran into trouble early. The press revealed

that his running mate Thomas Eagleton had once received psychiatric treatment.

First McGovern stood by Eagleton, and then he abandoned him choosing a different

running mate. In addition, many Democratic voters were attached to Nixon because

of his conservative positions on the Vietnam War. Meanwhile, Nixon’s campaign

sailed smoothly along, aided by millions of dollars in funds, Nixon’s campaign

officials collected much of the money illegally. Major corporations were told to

“contribute” at least 100,000 dollars each. The collectors made it clear that

the donations could easily buy the parties favor with the White House. Many

large corporations went along. As shipbuilding tycoon George Steinbrenner said;

it was a shakedown, a plain old-fashioned shakedown(Watergate, the secret


The final blow to McGovern’s chances for presidency came just days before the

election, when Kissinger announced that peace was at hand in Vietnam. McGovern

had made his political reputation as a critic of the Vietnam War, and the

announcement took the wind out of his sails. Nixon tallied an enormous victory.

He received over 60 percent of the popular vote and won every state except

Massachusetts (Kutler, 43). Congress however remained under Democratic control.

In January of 1973, two months after Nixon had won the presidential election,

the misdeeds of Watergate began to surface. The Watergate burglars went on trial

in a Washington D.C. courtroom. James McCord, one of the burglars, gave shocking

evidence. McCord testified that people in higher office had paid hush money to

the burglars who were involved in Watergate (Emery, 276). McCord a former CIA

agent who had led the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961, McCord worked for

the Nixon re-election campaign. With the hush money they were supposed to

conceal the White Houses involvement in Watergate. After the prosecuting

attorney investigated he quickly found out that the attorney General, John

Mitchell, approved the break-in. Even thought John Mitchell was one of the most

trusted advisors, Nixon denied knowledge about the break-in and cover-up of

Watergate. The public soon found out that Nixon was not telling the truth. The

public also found out that Nixon had ordered his aids to block any information

to the investigators. The White House also tried to stop flow of the

investigations, because they were afraid that it would uncover very important

secrets about the White Houses involvement. Nixon would not appear at the

congressional committee, complaining that if he were to testify it would violate

the separation of powers, which is stated in the constitution. Although the

constitution does define that their must be a separation of powers, it does not

state that the president is not able to testify in front of a congressional

committee. Nixon’s unwillingness to testify made people feel that Nixon was

abusing his executive privileges just to cover-up his crimes. When Nixon had no

possible way of protecting the White House staff, he fired them. Such as when he

fired two of his aids, H.R Haldeman and John Ehrlichwan, because they were on

the line of being charged for their crimes, but they were still convicted of

conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and perjury (Muzzio, 9). In may of 1973, the

press broadcasted the hearings on television to millions of people, the public

felt that it was their civic duty to watch over Nixon’s trial. An official told

the court that Nixon had tape-recorded all the conversations he had made to his

“Plumbers”(Watergate, Impeachment). Nixon had hoped that these tapes would one

day be used by historians to document the triumph of his term; instead they

would play a key element in his downfall and proved to be very prudent in

showing that Nixon was guilty. Nixon refused to release the tapes, claiming the

executive privilege gave him the right to keep his record private. Nixon’s

unwillingness to forfeit the tapes caused him to go to court, before it was

decided, Vice President Agnew was charged with income tax evasion. He was also

charged for accepting bribes in exchanging for political favors. Agnew resigned

because of the charges in October of 1973. He made a deal with the prosecuting

attorney and pleaded guilty for tax evasion and all of the other charges were

dropped (Emery, 382-83). This scandal was not connected to Watergate, but it put

a lot of stress on Nixon.

Nixon nominated Gerald Ford in place of Agnew (Kutler, 577). A couple of days

after Agnew resignation, the federal court ordered Nixon hand over the tapes.

Nixon refused once again so judge Cox tried to make him. Nixon tried to persuade

his lawyer to find a loophole, which would disqualify Cox as an impartial

interpreter. Cox was an idle to Richardson, because he was his professor in law

school. Richardson refused Nixon’s order and resigned. President Nixon then

ordered the deputy Attorney General to fire Cox. This massive event was known as

the Saturday Night Massacre (Watergate, Massacre). Many people of the nation

felt that Nixon’s blocking of the judicial process was proof of his guiltiness.

People mailed Congress thousands of telegrams asking for them to begin the

impeachment process against president Nixon. President Nixon had still

proclaimed his innocence. At a press conference in November, Nixon made his

famous quote, I am not a crook (Emery, 415). He avoided questions and

extremely agitated. The Internal Revenue Services also discovered something that

could harm Nixon. They noticed that in 1970 and 71′ Nixon had only paid 00 in

taxes when he earned over 00,000. The nation found out that he also used public

money to fix-up his houses in Florida and California. Nixon kept on refusing to

release his Watergate tapes. Then, on April 1974, he gave out the transcripts of

the tapes. He edited the transcripts and tried to cover up the crimes, but it

did not work and ended up giving Nixon a bad reputation (Muzzio, 125). The

Committee voted to bring impeachment charges in July against Nixon. The first

charge said that the president knowingly covered-up the crimes of Watergate. The

second charge stated that he used Government Agencies to violate the

Constitution of the U.S., the third asserted that he would be impeached because

of the withholding of evidence from Congress and interfering with the

impeachment process. Shortly after the house committee voted to impeach

President Nixon, the case went to the entire House for a final say. Nixon at

this point still counted on the public to back him up; he relied on the few that

still doubted his involvement in Watergate. Nixon at this point had to follow

through with the orders to hand over the tapes. Nixon for a long time claimed

that he had no idea of the Watergate scandal until John Dean told him on March

21, 1973. The tapes showed that Nixon was a true liar, and not only knew about

it, but ordered it. Because of this Nixon met with a group of republican leaders

and they tried to convince him to resign from office. He did just that on August

9, 1974, Nixon broadcasted that he was resigning to the nation. This meant that

President Richard Nixon was the first president of the United States to resign

from office. The nation was shocked by this whole scandal because of the way

Nixon had lied to the public and abused his own powers. This led most of the

public never to trust a president as they did before, because of the massive

secrecy in the Government. As a nation the country did survive the trauma, and

due to the recantation of Nixon and his vice president Agnew the country was

left in the careful hands of Gerald Ford who served honorably until the end of

his presidential term.

Sources Cited

Emwey, Fred. Watergate. The corruption of American Politics and the fall of

Richard Nixon. Random House: New York NY, 1994.

Feinberg, Barbara S. WATERGATE Scandal in the White House. Franklin Watts: New

York NY, 1990.

Kutler, Stanley I. The Wars of Watergate. A.A Knopf: New York NY, 1990.

Muzzio, Douglas. Watergate Games strategies, choices, outcomes. N.Y.U. Press:

New York NY, 1982.

Schudson, Michael. Watergate in American memory. Basic Books: New York NY, 1992

Watergate, The Secret Story. Executive Pro. Andrew Lack. CBS Video, 1992.

Watergate, Cover-up, Series Pro. Paul Mitchell. Discovery Channel, 1994.

Watergate, Impeachment, Series Pro. Paul Mitchell. Discovery channel, 1994.

Watergate, Massacre, Series Pro. Paul Mitchell. Discovery Channel, 1994.

Woodward, Bob “GOP Security Aide Among 5 Arrested in Bugging Affair”. Washington


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