US History Essay – Watergate

After winning the election in 1968, Richard Nixon ran in the presidency again in 1972. On June 17, 1972, five men were arrested while trying to bug the offices of the Democratic National Committee. This took place at the Watergate hotel in Washington, D.C. Two days later on June 19, John Mitchell, head of Nixon’s reelection campaign, denies that they have anything to do with the operation. A few months later, it is reported that John Mitchell controlled a secret Republican fund used to finance widespread intelligence-gathering operations against the Democrats. Then on October 10, FBI agents established that the Watergate break in stemmed from a large campaign of political spying conducted on behalf of the Nixon reelection effort. On November 11, Nixon is elected president with more than 60% of the votes.

In January of 1973, G. Gordon Liddy and James W. McCord Jr. are convicted of conspiracy, burglary, and wiretapping in the Watergate incident. After this, five other men plead guilty on the incident. Some of Nixon’s top White House staff including H.R. Haldeman, John Ehrlichman, and Attorney General Richard Kleindienst end up retiring over the Watergate scandal. John Dean, White House counsel, is also fired. Vice President Agnew is linked to the mafia and also resigns. Watergate prosecutors find a memo addressed to John Ehrlichman describing in detail the plans to burglarize the office of Pentagon Papers. Alexander Butterfield reveals in congressional testimony that since 1971, Nixon had recorded all conversations and telephone calls in his offices.

After Butterfield tells that Nixon had recorded all phone calls, Nixon disconnects the White House taping system and refuses to give the tape recordings to the special prosecutor or Senate Watergate committee. In the Saturday Night Massacre, Nixon fires Archibald Cox and abolishes the office of the special prosecutor. Attorney General Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William D. Ruckelshaus resign. In 1974 the White House releases edited transcripts of the Nixon tapes but will not release the tapes. The Supreme Court rules that Nixon must turn over the tapes of 64 White House conversations, rejecting Nixon’s claims for executive privilege.

The House Judiciary Committee then passes the first article of impeachment with charges of obstruction of justice. The House Judiciary Committee ends up passing a total of three impeachment articles. After this, Nixon becomes the first president to resign. The Republicans pick Gerald Ford to take over office. Ford pardons Nixon of all charges having to do with the Watergate case so that nothing will be televised and the nation can move on.

From the facts I know about the Watergate scandal, I think Nixon was the mastermind behind it all. In the Saturday Night Massacre, Nixon fired everyone that had to do with or knew about the Watergate scandal. Firing everyone associated with the scandal makes Nixon look like he is trying to protect himself, and he looks very suspicious. If he had nothing to do with the scandal, he would not have acted like he had something to hide. I also think that Nixon was behind the scandal because he withheld information. He refused to give up the tapes of the White House calls. When he gave the transcripts of the tapes, they were altered. I do not think that Nixon would have withheld the tapes of the White House phone calls unless he had something to do with the scandal.



In the United States presidential election of 1972, Richard Nixon was was elected to a second term defeating Democrat George McGovern in one of the largest landslides in US history. Early in the morning of June 17, 1972, several burglars were arrested inside the office of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), located in the Watergate building in Washington, D.C. This was no ordinary robbery: The prowlers were connected to President Richard Nixon’s reelection campaign, and they had been caught while attempting to wiretap phones and steal secret documents. While historians are not sure whether Nixon knew about the Watergate espionage operation before it happened, he took steps to cover it up afterwards, raising “hush money” for the burglars, trying to stop the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) from investigating the crime, destroying evidence and firing uncooperative staff members. In August 1974, after his role in the Watergate conspiracy had finally come to light, the president resigned. His successor, Gerald Ford, immediately pardoned Nixon for all the crimes he “committed or may have committed” while in office. Although Nixon was never prosecuted, the Watergate scandal changed American politics forever, leading many Americans to question their leadership and think more.

Six weeks after the new president Gerald Ford (1913-2006) was sworn in, he pardoned Nixon for any crimes he had committed while in office. Some of Nixon’s aides were not so lucky: They were convicted of very serious offenses and sent to federal prison. Nixon himself never admitted to any criminal wrongdoing, though he did acknowledge using poor judgment. His abuse of presidential power had a negative effect on American political life, creating an atmosphere of cynicism and distrust. While many Americans had been deeply dismayed by the outcomes of the Vietnam War, Watergate added further disappointment in a national climate already soured by the difficulties and losses of the past decade.