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  • Writer's pictureAanya M.

Watergate Scandal

The Watergate scandal changed American politics forever. It had many people doubting their leaders. On the morning of June 17, 1972, several burglars were arrested in the office of the Democratic National Committee, located in the Watergate complex of buildings in Washington, D.C. They were connected to President Nixon's reelection campaign. They had been caught wiretapping phones and stealing documents. Nixon tried all he could to hide the crimes, but when Washington Post writers Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein exposed his participation in the plot, Nixon resigned on August 9, 1974.

Nixon's Committee to Re-Elect the President infiltrated the Democratic National Committee's Watergate headquarters, stealing copies of top-secret papers and bugging the office's phones. The wiretaps, however, did not function correctly, so on June 17, a team of five burglars returned to the Watergate building. A security guard observed someone had taped over numerous of the building's door locks as the burglars prepared to break into the workplace with a new microphone. The guard phoned the cops, who came just in time to arrest them.

The thieves' connection to the president was not immediately evident, however, officers were suspicious when they discovered printouts of the reelection committee's White House phone number among the criminals' possessions. Nixon tried his best to cover it up and Nixon gave a speech in which he swore that his White House staff was not involved in the break-in. Voters believed him and in November of 1972, he was reelected.

Later it was found that Nixon was lying. For instance, a few days after the break-in, he planned to pay the thieves hundreds of thousands of dollars in "hush money." Nixon and his aides then planned on instructing the CIA to disrupt the FBI’s investigation of the crime. Nixon abused his power as president.

A number of Nixon's aides, including White House lawyer John Dean, testified before a grand jury regarding the president's misdeeds; they also claimed that Nixon covertly filmed every discussion in the Oval Office. Prosecutors would have proof of the president's guilt if they could get their hands on those tapes. Nixon agreed to surrender some but not all of the tapes.

The Supreme Court ordered Nixon to give over the tapes in July. The House Judiciary Committee decided to impeach him for obstruction of justice, misuse of authority, criminal cover-up, and many constitutional infractions.

Finally, on August 5, Nixon released the recordings, which proved his culpability in the Watergate scandal. Nixon resigned in disgrace on August 8, facing almost likely impeachment by Congress, and departed office the next day.

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