Nixon and the Watergate Scandal

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The Watergate Scandal
Victoria Daniele
Constitutional History
May 19, 2013

The Watergate Scandal involved a number of illegal activities that were designed to help President Richard Nixon win re-election. The scandal involved burglary, wiretapping, campaign financing violations, and the use of government agencies to harm political opponents. A major part of the scandal was also the cover-up of all these illegal actions. The Watergate Scandal got its name from the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C. This large office building was the home of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters, and the site of the break-in that began the largest scandal in American politics. However, even before the break-in, President Nixon had begun illegal operations. In January 1972, G. Gordon Liddy[->0], general counsel to the Committee for the Re-Election of the President[->1] (CRP), presented a campaign intelligence plan to CRP's Acting Chairman Jeb Stuart Magruder[->2], Attorney General John Mitchell[->3], and Presidential Counsel John Dean[->4], that involved extensive illegal activities against the Democratic Party[->5]. Mitchell viewed the plan as unrealistic, but two months later was alleged to have approved a reduced version of the plan which involved burgling the Democratic National Committee's (DNC) headquarters at the Watergate Complex[->6] in Washington, D.C. The ostensible purpose of this was to photograph documents and install listening devices. Liddy was nominally in charge of the operation, but has since insisted that he was duped by Dean and at least two of his subordinates. These included former CIA officers E. Howard Hunt[->7] and James McCord[->8], then CRP-Security Coordinator; John Mitchell had by then resigned as Attorney General to become chairman of the CRP."WATERGATE RETROSPECTIVE: THE DECLINE AND FALL"[->9], Time Magazine, August 19, 1974 After two attempts to break into the Watergate Complex failed to yield information of value, the order for yet another break-in was given to Liddy by Jeb Magruder, either acting on his own or on orders from Dean. Shortly after midnight on June 17, 1972, Frank Wills[->10], a security guard at the Watergate Complex, noticed tape covering the latches on doors in the complex (allowing the doors to close but remain unlocked). He removed the tape and thought nothing of it. Wills returned an hour later and discovered that someone had re-taped the locks, which he then called the police. Five men were discovered and arrested inside the DNC's office."WATERGATE RETROSPECTIVE: THE DECLINE AND FALL"[->11], Time Magazine, August 19, 1974 The five men were Virgilio González, Bernard Barker[->12], James McCord, Eugenio Martínez[->13], and Frank Sturgis[->14], who were charged with attempted burglary and attempted interception of telephone and other communications. On September 15, a grand jury[->15] indicted them, as well as Hunt and Liddy,Watergate: chronology of a crisis 1. Washington D. C.: Congressional Quarterly Inc. p. 4. ISBN[->16] 0-87187-059-2[->17]. OCLC[->18] 20974031[->19] for conspiracy, burglary, and violation of federal wiretapping laws. The five burglars who broke into the office were tried by Judge John Sirica[->20] and convicted on January 30, 1973. Throughout the next few months this minor break-in turned into a full blown political scandal. When first questioned about the situation in early 1973, Nixon denied all allegations that either he or any White House official was linked to the break-in. Later that year evidence was uncovered that linked several White House officials to the break-in, and/or the cover-up and concealment of the evidence. This information indicated that White House officials had attempted to involve the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the cover-up. The FBI connected cash found on the burglars to a slush fund[->21] used by the Committee for the Re-Election of the...
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