Watergate scandal was a major political scandal that occurred in
the United States during the early 1970s, following a break-in by five
men at the
Democratic National Committee
Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters at the
Watergate office complex in
Washington, D.C. on June 17, 1972, and
President Richard Nixon's administration's subsequent attempt to cover
up its involvement. After the five burglars were caught and the
conspiracy was discovered, Watergate was investigated by the United
States Congress. Meanwhile, Nixon's administration resisted its
probes, which led to a constitutional crisis.
The term Watergate, by metonymy, has come to encompass an array of
clandestine and often illegal activities undertaken by members of the
Nixon administration. Those activities included such "dirty tricks" as
bugging the offices of political opponents and people of whom Nixon or
his officials were suspicious. Nixon and his close aides also ordered
investigations of activist groups and political figures, using the
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Central Intelligence Agency
(CIA), and the
Internal Revenue Service
Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as political weapons.
The scandal led to the discovery of multiple abuses of power by
members of the Nixon administration, an impeachment process against
the president that led to articles of impeachment, and Nixon's
resignation. The scandal also resulted in the indictment of 69 people,
with trials or pleas resulting in 48 being found guilty, many of whom
were top Nixon officials.
The affair began with the arrest of five men for breaking into the DNC
headquarters at the
Watergate complex on Saturday, June 17, 1972. The
FBI investigated and discovered a connection between cash found on the
burglars and a slush fund used by the Committee for the Re-Election of
the President (CRP), the official organization of Nixon's
campaign. In July 1973, evidence mounted against the president's
staff, including testimony provided by former staff members in an
investigation conducted by the Senate Watergate Committee. The
investigation revealed that Nixon had a tape-recording system in his
offices and that he had recorded many conversations.
After a series of court battles, the Supreme Court of the United
States unanimously ruled that the president was obliged to release the
tapes to government investigators (United States v. Nixon). The tapes
revealed that Nixon had attempted to cover up activities that took
place after the break-in, and to use federal officials to deflect the
investigation. Facing virtually certain impeachment in the House
of Representatives and equally certain conviction by the Senate, Nixon
resigned the presidency on August 9, 1974, preventing the House from
impeaching him. On September 8, 1974, his successor, Gerald
Ford, pardoned him.
The name "Watergate" and the suffix "-gate" have since become
synonymous with political and non-political scandals in the United
States, and some other parts of the world.
1 Wiretapping of the Democratic Party's headquarters
2 Cover-up and its unraveling
2.1 Initial cover-up
2.2 Money trail
2.3 Role of the media
2.4 Scandal escalates
2.5 Senate Watergate hearings and revelation of the Watergate tapes
2.6 “Saturday Night Massacre”
2.7 Legal action against Nixon Administration members
2.8 Release of the transcripts
2.9 Supreme Court
2.10 Release of the tapes
3 Final investigations and resignation
3.1 "Smoking Gun" tape
4 President Ford’s pardon of Nixon
5.1 Final legal actions and effect on the law profession
5.2 Political and cultural reverberations
6 Purpose of the break-in
7.5 Soviet Union
7.6 United Kingdom
7.7 Other international reactions
7.8 Domestic reactions
8 See also
10 Further reading
11 External links
Wiretapping of the Democratic Party's headquarters
E. Howard Hunt
E. Howard Hunt and G. Gordon Liddy, who led the Watergate break-in
team, were stationed in a Watergate Hotel room while the burglary was
underway. A lookout was posted across the street at the Howard Johnson
Bruce Givner was a 21-year old intern working at the DNC's 6th
floor offices in the Watergate Hotel Complex when his prolonged stay
on that floor precluded the burglars from entering the offices to
correct their earlier wiretap work. During the break-in, Hunt and
Liddy would remain in contact with each other and with the burglars by
radio. These Chapstick tubes outfitted with tiny microphones were
later discovered in Hunt's
White House office safe.
Transistor radio used in the Watergate break-in
Walkie-talkie used in Watergate break-in
A DNC filing cabinet from the Watergate office building, damaged by
On Thursday, January 27, 1972, G. Gordon Liddy, Finance Counsel for
Committee for the Re-Election of the President
Committee for the Re-Election of the President (CRP) and former
aide to John Ehrlichman, presented a campaign intelligence plan to
CRP's Acting Chairman Jeb Stuart Magruder, Attorney General John
Mitchell, and Presidential Counsel John Dean, that involved extensive
illegal activities against the Democratic Party. According to Dean,
this marked "the opening scene of the worst political scandal of the
twentieth century and the beginning of the end of the Nixon
Mitchell viewed the plan as unrealistic. Two months later, he was
alleged to have approved a reduced version of the plan, including
burgling the Democratic National Committee's (DNC) headquarters at the
Watergate Complex in Washington, D.C.—ostensibly to photograph
campaign documents and install listening devices in telephones. 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
E. Howard Hunt and James McCord, then-CRP
Security Coordinator (John Mitchell had by then resigned as Attorney
General to become chairman of the CRP).
In May, McCord assigned former FBI agent
Alfred C. Baldwin III to
carry out the wiretapping and monitor the telephone conversations
afterward. McCord testified that he selected
Baldwin's name from a registry published by the Society of Former
Special Agents of the FBI to work for the Committee to Re-elect the
President. Baldwin first served as bodyguard to
Martha Mitchell, the wife of John Mitchell, who was living in
Washington. Baldwin accompanied Martha Mitchell to
Chicago. Martha did not like Baldwin and described
him as the "gauchest character I've ever met". The
Committee replaced Baldwin with another security man.
On May 11, McCord arranged for Baldwin, whom investigative reporter
Jim Hougan described as "somehow special and perhaps well known to
McCord", to stay at the Howard Johnson's motel across
the street from the Watergate complex. Room 419 was
booked in the name of McCord’s company. At behest
G. Gordon Liddy
G. Gordon Liddy and E. Howard Hunt, McCord and his
team of burglars prepared for their first Watergate break-in,[citation
needed] which began on May 28.
Two phones inside the offices of the DNC headquarters were said to
have been wiretapped. One was the phone of Robert
Spencer Oliver, who at the time was working as the executive director
of the Association of State Democratic Chairmen, and the other was the
phone of DNC chairman Larry O'Brien. The FBI found no
evidence that O'Brien's phone was bugged. However, it
was determined that an effective listening device had been installed
in Oliver's phone.
Despite the success in installing the listening devices, the Committee
agents soon determined that they needed to be repaired. They
planned a second "burglary" in order to take care of this.
Shortly after midnight on June 17, 1972, Frank Wills, a security guard
at the Watergate Complex, noticed tape covering the latches on some of
the doors in the complex leading from the underground parking garage
to several offices (allowing the doors to close but remain unlocked).
He removed the tape, thinking nothing of it. But when he returned an
hour later and discovered that someone had retaped the locks, Wills
called the police. Five men were discovered inside the DNC office and
arrested. They were Virgilio Gonzalez, Bernard Barker, James
McCord, Eugenio Martínez, and Frank Sturgis, who were charged with
attempted burglary and attempted interception of telephone and other
The Washington Post
The Washington Post reported at the time: "In
addition, police found lock-picks and door jimmies, almost $2,300 in
cash, most of it in $100 bills with the serial numbers in
sequence....a short wave receiver that could pick up police calls, 40
rolls of unexposed film, two 35 millimeter cameras and three pen-sized
tear gas guns." On September 15, a grand jury indicted them, as
well as Hunt and Liddy, for conspiracy, burglary, and violation of
federal wiretapping laws. The five burglars who broke into the office
were tried by a jury, Judge
John Sirica officiating, and pled guilty
or were convicted on January 30, 1973.
On the morning of 18 June 1972,
G. Gordon Liddy
G. Gordon Liddy called
Jeb Magruder in
Los Angeles and informed him that "the four men arrested with McCord
were Cuban freedom fighters, whom Howard Hunt recruited." Initially
Nixon's organization and the
White House quickly went to work to cover
up the crime and any evidence that might have damaged the president
and his reelection.
Cover-up and its unraveling
Address book of Watergate burglar Bernard Barker, discovered in a room
at the Watergate Hotel, June 18, 1972
Within hours of the burglars' arrest, the FBI discovered the name of
E. Howard Hunt
E. Howard Hunt in the address books of Barker and Martínez. Nixon
administration officials were concerned because Hunt and Liddy were
also involved in a separate secret activity known as the White House
Plumbers, which was set up to stop security "leaks" and to investigate
other sensitive security matters. Dean would later testify he was
ordered by top Nixon aide
John Ehrlichman to "deep six" the contents
of Howard Hunt's
White House safe. Ehrlichman subsequently denied
that. In the end, the evidence from Hunt's safe was destroyed (in
separate operations) by Dean and the FBI's Acting Director, L. Patrick
Nixon's own reaction to the break-in, at least initially, was one of
skepticism. Watergate prosecutor James Neal was sure Nixon had not
known in advance of the break-in. As evidence, he cited a June 23
taped conversation between the President and his Chief of Staff, H. R.
Haldeman, in which Nixon asked, "Who was the asshole who ordered
it?" But Nixon subsequently ordered Haldeman to have
the CIA block the FBI's investigation into the source of the funding
for the burglary.
A few days later, Nixon's Press Secretary, Ron Ziegler, described the
event as “a third-rate burglary attempt.” On August 29, at a news
conference, Nixon stated Dean had conducted a thorough investigation
of the matter, when in fact Dean had not conducted any investigation
at all. Nixon also said, “I can say categorically that ... no one in
White House staff, no one in this Administration, presently
employed, was involved in this very bizarre incident.” On September
15, Nixon congratulated Dean, saying, “The way you've handled it, it
seems to me, has been very skillful, because you—putting your
fingers in the dikes every time that leaks have sprung here and sprung
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On June 19, 1972, the press reported that one of the Watergate
burglars was a Republican Party security aide. Former Attorney
General John Mitchell, who at the time was the head of the CRP, denied
any involvement with the Watergate break-in or knowledge of the five
burglars. On August 1, a $25,000 ($146,000 today) cashier’s
check was found to have been deposited in the US and Mexican bank
accounts of one of the Watergate burglars, Bernard Barker. Made out to
the Finance Committee of the Committee to Reelect the President, the
check was a 1972 campaign donation by Kenneth H. Dahlberg. This money
(and several other checks which had been lawfully donated to the CRP)
had been directly used to finance the burglary/wire tapping team's
expenses, hardware, and supplies.
Mr. Barker's multiple and international national businesses all had
separate bank accounts, which he was found to have attempted to use to
disguise the true origin of the monies being paid to the burglars. The
donor's checks demonstrated the burglars' direct link to the finance
committee of the CRP.
Donations totaling $86,000 ($503,000 today) were made by individuals
who thought they were making private donations by certified and
cashier's checks for the president's re-election. Investigators'
examination of the bank records of a Miami company run by Watergate
burglar Barker revealed an account controlled by him personally had
deposited a check and then transferred it (through the Federal Reserve
Check Clearing System).
The banks that had originated the checks were keen to ensure the
depository institution used by Barker had acted properly in ensuring
the checks had been received and endorsed by the check's payee, before
its acceptance for deposit in Bernard Barker's account. Only in this
way would the issuing banks not be held liable for the unauthorized
and improper release of funds from their customers' accounts.
The investigation by the FBI, which cleared Barker's bank of fiduciary
malfeasance, led to the direct implication of members of the CRP, to
whom the checks had been delivered. Those individuals were the
Committee bookkeeper and its treasurer, Hugh Sloan.
As a private organization, the committee followed normal business
practice in allowing only duly authorized individuals to accept and
endorse checks on behalf of the Committee. No financial institution
could accept or process a check on behalf of the committee unless a
duly authorized individual endorsed it. The checks deposited into
Barker's bank account were endorsed by Committee treasurer Hugh Sloan,
who was authorized by the Finance Committee. However, once Sloan had
endorsed a check made payable to the Committee, he had a legal and
fiduciary responsibility to see that the check was deposited only into
the accounts named on the check. Sloan failed to do that. When
confronted with the potential charge of federal bank fraud, he
revealed that committee deputy director
Jeb Magruder and finance
Maurice Stans had directed him to give the money to G. Gordon
Liddy, in turn, gave the money to Barker, and attempted to hide its
origin. Barker tried to disguise the funds by depositing them into
accounts in banks outside of the United States. What Barker, Liddy,
and Sloan did not know was that the complete record of all such
transactions were held for roughly six months. Barker's use of foreign
banks in April and May 1972, to deposit checks and withdraw the funds
via cashier's checks and money orders, resulted in the banks keeping
the entire transaction records until October and November 1972.
All five Watergate burglars were directly or indirectly tied to the
1972 CRP, thus causing Judge Sirica to suspect a conspiracy involving
higher-echelon government officials.
On September 29, 1972, the press reported that John Mitchell, while
serving as Attorney General, controlled a secret Republican fund used
to finance intelligence-gathering against the Democrats. On October
10, the FBI reported the Watergate break-in was part of a massive
campaign of political spying and sabotage on behalf of the Nixon
re-election committee. Despite these revelations, Nixon's campaign was
never seriously jeopardized; on November 7, the President was
re-elected in one of the biggest landslides in American political
Role of the media
The connection between the break-in and the re-election committee was
highlighted by media coverage—in particular, investigative coverage
by The Washington Post, Time, and The New York Times. The coverage
dramatically increased publicity and consequent political
repercussions. Relying heavily upon anonymous sources, Post reporters
Bob Woodward and
Carl Bernstein uncovered information suggesting that
knowledge of the break-in, and attempts to cover it up, led deeply
into the upper reaches of the Justice Department, FBI, CIA, and the
White House. Woodward and Bernstein interviewed Judy Hoback Miller,
the bookkeeper for Nixon, who revealed to them information about the
mishandling of funds and records being destroyed.
Chief among the Post's anonymous sources was an individual whom
Woodward and Bernstein had nicknamed Deep Throat; 33 years later, in
2005, the informant was identified as William Mark Felt, Sr., deputy
director of the FBI during that period of the 1970s, something
Woodward later confirmed. Felt met secretly with Woodward several
times, telling him of Howard Hunt's involvement with the Watergate
break-in, and that the
White House staff regarded the stakes in
Watergate extremely high. Felt warned Woodward that the FBI wanted to
know where he and other reporters were getting their information, as
they were uncovering a wider web of crimes than the FBI first
disclosed. All of the secret meetings between Woodward and Felt took
place at an underground parking garage somewhere in Rosslyn over a
period from June 1972 to January 1973. Prior to resigning from the FBI
on June 22, 1973, Felt also anonymously planted leaks about Watergate
with Time magazine, the
Washington Daily News and other
The garage in Rosslyn where Woodward and Felt met, seen in January
2018; also visible is the historical marker erected by the county to
note its significance.
During this early period, most of the media failed to grasp the full
implications of the scandal, and concentrated reporting on other
topics related to the 1972 presidential election. Most outlets
ignored or downplayed Woodward and Bernstein's scoops; the crosstown
Washington Star-News and the
Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times even ran stories
incorrectly discrediting the Post's articles. After the Post revealed
H.R. Haldeman made payments from the secret fund, newspapers like
Chicago Tribune and the
Philadelphia Inquirer failed to publish
the information, but did publish the White House's denial of the story
the following day. The
White House also sought to isolate the
Post's coverage by tirelessly attacking that newspaper while declining
to criticize other damaging stories about the scandal from the New
York Times and Time Magazine.
After it was learned that one of the convicted burglars wrote to Judge
Sirica alleging a high-level cover-up, the media shifted its focus.
Time magazine described Nixon as undergoing “daily hell and very
little trust.” The distrust between the press and the Nixon
administration was mutual and greater than usual due to lingering
dissatisfaction with events from the Vietnam War. At the same time,
public distrust of the media was polled at more than 40%.
Nixon and top administration officials discussed using government
agencies to “get” (or retaliate against) those they perceived as
hostile media organizations. The discussions had precedent. At the
request of Nixon's
White House in 1969, the FBI tapped the phones of
five reporters. In 1971, the
White House requested an audit of the tax
return of the editor of Newsday, after he wrote a series of articles
about the financial dealings of Charles “Bebe” Rebozo, a friend of
The Administration and its supporters accused the media of making
"wild accusations", putting too much emphasis on the story, and of
having a liberal bias against the Administration. Nixon said in a
May 1974 interview with supporter
Baruch Korff that if he had followed
the liberal policies that he thought the media preferred, “Watergate
would have been a blip.” The media noted that most of the
reporting turned out to be accurate; the competitive nature of the
media guaranteed widespread coverage of the far-reaching political
scandal. Applications to journalism schools reached an all-time
high in 1974.
Rather than ending with the conviction and sentencing to prison of the
five Watergate burglars on January 30, 1973, the investigation into
the break-in and the Nixon Administration's involvement grew broader.
Nixon's conversations in late March and all of April 1973 revealed
that not only did he know he needed to remove Haldeman, Ehrlichman,
and Dean to gain distance from them, but he had to do so in a way that
was least likely to incriminate him and his presidency. Nixon created
a new conspiracy—to effect a cover-up of the cover-up—which began
in late March 1973 and became fully formed in May and June 1973,
operating until his presidency ended on August 9, 1974. On March
23, 1973, Judge Sirica read the court a letter from Watergate burglar
James McCord, who alleged that perjury had been committed in the
Watergate trial, and defendants had been pressured to remain silent.
Trying to make them talk, Sirica gave Hunt and two burglars
provisional sentences of up to 40 years.
On March 28, on Nixon’s orders, aide
John Ehrlichman told Attorney
Richard Kleindienst that nobody in the
White House had prior
knowledge of the burglary. On April 13, Magruder told U.S. attorneys
that he had perjured himself during the burglars’ trial, and
John Dean and John Mitchell.
John Dean believed that he, Mitchell, Ehrlichman, and Haldeman could
go to the prosecutors, tell the truth, and save the presidency. Dean
wanted to protect the president and have his four closest men take the
fall for telling the truth. During the critical meeting between Dean
and Nixon on April 15, 1973, Dean was totally unaware of the
president’s depth of knowledge and involvement in the Watergate
cover-up. It was during this meeting that Dean felt that he was being
recorded. He wondered if this was due to the way Nixon was speaking,
as if he were trying to prod attendees’ recollections of earlier
conversations about fundraising. Dean mentioned this observation while
testifying to the Senate Committee on Watergate, exposing the thread
of what were taped conversations that would unravel the fabric of the
Two days later, Dean told Nixon that he had been cooperating with the
U.S. attorneys. On that same day, U.S. attorneys told Nixon that
Haldeman, Ehrlichman, Dean, and other
White House officials were
implicated in the cover-up.
On April 30, Nixon asked for the resignation of Haldeman and
Ehrlichman, two of his most influential aides. They were later both
indicted, convicted, and ultimately sentenced to prison. He asked for
the resignation of Attorney General Kleindienst, to ensure no one
could claim that his innocent friendship with Haldeman and Ehrlichman
could be construed as a conflict. He fired
White House Counsel
White House Counsel John
Dean, who went on to testify before the
Senate Watergate Committee
Senate Watergate Committee and
said that he believed and suspected the conversations in the Oval
Office were being taped. This information became the bombshell that
Richard Nixon to resign rather than be impeached.
Writing from prison for New West and New York magazines in 1977,
Ehrlichman claimed Nixon had offered him a large sum of money, which
The President announced the resignations in an address to the American
In one of the most difficult decisions of my Presidency, I accepted
the resignations of two of my closest associates in the White House,
Bob Haldeman, John Ehrlichman, two of the finest public servants it
has been my privilege to know. Because Attorney General Kleindienst,
though a distinguished public servant, my personal friend for 20
years, with no personal involvement whatsoever in this matter has been
a close personal and professional associate of some of those who are
involved in this case, he and I both felt that it was also necessary
to name a new Attorney General. The Counsel to the President, John
Dean, has also resigned.
On the same day, Nixon appointed a new attorney general, Elliot
Richardson, and gave him authority to designate a special counsel for
the Watergate investigation who would be independent of the regular
Justice Department hierarchy. In May 1973, Richardson named Archibald
Cox to the position.
Senate Watergate hearings and revelation of the Watergate tapes
From left to right: minority counsel Fred Thompson, ranking member
Howard Baker, and chair
Sam Ervin of the
Senate Watergate Committee
Senate Watergate Committee in
Main article: Nixon
White House tapes
United States Senate Watergate Committee
United States Senate Watergate Committee and G. Bradford
On February 7, 1973, the
United States Senate
United States Senate voted 77-to-0 to approve
Senate Resolution S.Res. 60 and establish a select committee to
investigate Watergate, with
Sam Ervin named chairman the next day.
The hearings held by the Senate committee, in which Dean and other
former administration officials testified, were broadcast from May 17
to August 7, 1973. The three major networks of the time agreed to take
turns covering the hearings live, each network thus maintaining
coverage of the hearings every third day, starting with ABC on May 17
and ending with
NBC on August 7. An estimated 85% of Americans with
television sets tuned into at least one portion of the hearings.
On Friday, July 13, 1973, during a preliminary interview, deputy
Donald Sanders asked
White House assistant Alexander
Butterfield if there was any type of recording system in the White
House. Butterfield said he was reluctant to answer, but finally
stated there was a new system in the
White House that automatically
recorded everything in the Oval Office, the Cabinet Room and others,
as well as Nixon’s private office in the Old Executive Office
On Monday, July 16, 1973, in front of a live, televised audience,
chief minority counsel
Fred Thompson asked Butterfield whether he was
“aware of the installation of any listening devices in the Oval
Office of the President.” Butterfield’s revelation of the taping
system transformed the Watergate investigation. Cox immediately
subpoenaed the tapes, as did the Senate, but Nixon refused to release
them, citing his executive privilege as president, and ordered Cox to
drop his subpoena. Cox refused.
“Saturday Night Massacre”
Main article: Saturday Night Massacre
On October 20, 1973, after Cox refused to drop the subpoena, Nixon
ordered Attorney General
Elliot Richardson to fire the special
prosecutor. Richardson resigned in protest rather than carry out the
order. Nixon then ordered Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus
to fire Cox, but Ruckelshaus also resigned rather than fire him.
Nixon’s search for someone in the Justice Department willing to fire
Cox ended with the Solicitor General Robert Bork. Though Bork said he
believed Nixon’s order was valid and appropriate, he considered
resigning to avoid being “perceived as a man who did the
President’s bidding to save my job.” Bork carried out the
presidential order and dismissed the special prosecutor.
These actions met considerable public criticism. Responding to the
allegations of possible wrongdoing, in front of 400 Associated Press
managing editors at Disney's Contemporary Resort on November
17, 1973, Nixon stated emphatically, “I’m not a crook.”
He needed to allow Bork to appoint a new special prosecutor; Bork
Leon Jaworski to continue the investigation.
Legal action against Nixon Administration members
On March 1, 1974, a grand jury in Washington, D.C., indicted several
former aides of Nixon, who became known as the "Watergate Seven"—H.
R. Haldeman, John Ehrlichman, John N. Mitchell, Charles Colson, Gordon
C. Strachan, Robert Mardian, and Kenneth Parkinson—for conspiring to
hinder the Watergate investigation. The grand jury secretly named
Nixon as an unindicted co-conspirator. The special prosecutor
dissuaded them from an indictment of Nixon, arguing that a President
can only be indicted after he leaves office. John Dean, Jeb Stuart
Magruder, and other figures had already pleaded guilty. On April 5,
1974, Dwight Chapin, the former Nixon appointments secretary, was
convicted of lying to the grand jury. Two days later, the same grand
jury indicted Ed Reinecke, the Republican Lieutenant Governor of
California, on three charges of perjury before the Senate committee.
Release of the transcripts
President Nixon giving a televised address explaining release of
edited transcripts of the tapes on April 29, 1974
The Nixon administration struggled to decide what materials to
release. All parties involved agreed that all pertinent information
should be released. Whether to release unedited profanity and
vulgarity divided his advisers. His legal team favored releasing the
tapes unedited, while Press Secretary
Ron Ziegler preferred using an
edited version where “expletive deleted” would replace the raw
material. After several weeks of debate, they decided to release an
edited version. Nixon announced the release of the transcripts in a
speech to the nation on April 29, 1974. Nixon noted that any audio
pertinent to national security information could be redacted from the
Initially, Nixon gained a positive reaction for his speech. As people
read the transcripts over the next couple of weeks, however, former
supporters among the public, media and political community called for
Nixon's resignation or impeachment. Vice President
Gerald Ford said,
“While it may be easy to delete characterization from the printed
page, we cannot delete characterization from people's minds with a
wave of the hand.” The Senate Republican Leader
Hugh Scott said
the transcripts revealed a “deplorable, disgusting, shabby, and
immoral” performance on the part of the President and his former
aides. The House Republican Leader
John Jacob Rhodes agreed with
Scott, and Rhodes recommended that if Nixon’s position continued to
deteriorate, he “ought to consider resigning as a possible
The editors of The Chicago Tribune, a newspaper that had supported
Nixon, wrote, “He is humorless to the point of being inhumane. He is
devious. He is vacillating. He is profane. He is willing to be led. He
displays dismaying gaps in knowledge. He is suspicious of his staff.
His loyalty is minimal.” The
Providence Journal wrote,
“Reading the transcripts is an emetic experience; one comes away
feeling unclean.” This newspaper continued that, while the
transcripts may not have revealed an indictable offense, they showed
Nixon contemptuous of the United States, its institutions, and its
people. According to Time magazine, the Republican Party leaders in
the Western U.S. felt that while there remained a significant number
of Nixon loyalists in the party, the majority believed that Nixon
should step down as quickly as possible. They were disturbed by the
bad language and the coarse, vindictive tone of the conversations in
The issue of access to the tapes went to the United States Supreme
Court. On July 24, 1974, in United States v. Nixon, the Court ruled
unanimously (8 to 0) that claims of executive privilege over the tapes
were void. (Then-Justice William Rehnquist—who had recently been
appointed to the Court by Nixon and most recently served in the Nixon
Justice Department as Assistant Attorney General of the Office of
Legal Counsel—recused himself from the case.) The Court ordered the
President to release the tapes to the special prosecutor. On July 30,
1974, Nixon complied with the order and released the subpoenaed tapes
to the public.
Release of the tapes
The tapes revealed several crucial conversations that took place
between the President and his counsel, John Dean, on March 21, 1973.
In this conversation, Dean summarized many aspects of the Watergate
case, and focused on the subsequent cover-up, describing it as a
“cancer on the presidency.” The burglary team was being paid hush
money for their silence and Dean stated: “That’s the most
troublesome post-thing, because Bob [Haldeman] is involved in that;
John [Ehrlichman] is involved in that; I am involved in that; Mitchell
is involved in that. And that’s an obstruction of justice.” Dean
continued, saying that Howard Hunt was blackmailing the White House
demanding money immediately. Nixon replied that the money should be
paid: “... just looking at the immediate problem, don’t you
have to have—handle Hunt’s financial situation damn soon? …
you’ve got to keep the cap on the bottle that much, in order to have
At the time of the initial congressional proceedings, it was not known
if Nixon had known and approved of the payments to the Watergate
defendants earlier than this conversation. Nixon’s conversation with
Haldeman on August 1, 1972, is one of several that establishes he did.
Nixon said: “Well ... they have to be paid. That’s all there
is to that. They have to be paid.” During the congressional
debate on impeachment, some believed that impeachment required a
criminally indictable offense. Nixon's agreement to make the blackmail
payments was regarded as an affirmative act to obstruct justice.
On December 7, 1973, investigators found that an 18½-minute portion
of one recorded tape had been erased. Rose Mary Woods, Nixon’s
longtime personal secretary, said she had accidentally erased the tape
by pushing the wrong pedal on her tape player when answering the
phone. The press ran photos of the set-up, showing that it was
unlikely for Woods to answer the phone while keeping her foot on the
pedal. Later forensic analysis in 2003 determined that the tape had
been erased in several segments—at least five, and perhaps as many
Final investigations and resignation
See also: Impeachment process of Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon's resignation speech
Resignation speech of President Richard Nixon, delivered August 8,
Problems playing this file? See media help.
Nixon’s position was becoming increasingly precarious. On February
6, 1974, the House of Representatives approved H.Res. 803 giving the
Judiciary Committee authority to investigate impeachment of the
President. On July 27, 1974, the House Judiciary Committee
voted 27-to-11 to recommend the first article of impeachment against
the president: obstruction of justice. The Committee recommended the
second article, abuse of power, on July 29, 1974. The next day, on
July 30, 1974, the Committee recommended the third article: contempt
of Congress. On August 20, 1974, the House authorized the printing of
the Committee report H. Rep. 93–1305, which included the text of the
resolution impeaching Nixon and set forth articles of impeachment
"Smoking Gun" tape
Oval Office meeting with
H.R. Haldeman "Smoking Gun"
Conversation June 23, 1972 Full Transcript
On August 5, 1974, the
White House released a previously unknown audio
tape from June 23, 1972. Recorded only a few days after the break-in,
it documented the initial stages of the cover-up: it revealed Nixon
and Haldeman had conducted a meeting in the
Oval Office where they
discussed how to stop the FBI from continuing their investigation of
the break-in, as they recognised that there was a high risk that their
position in the scandal may be revealed.
Haldeman introduced the topic as follows:
... the Democratic break-in thing, we’re back to the—in the, the
problem area because the FBI is not under control, because Gray
doesn’t exactly know how to control them, and they have ...
their investigation is now leading into some productive areas ...
and it goes in some directions we don’t want it to go.
After explaining how the money from CRP was traced to the burglars,
Haldeman explained to Nixon the cover-up plan: “the way to handle
this now is for us to have Walters [CIA] call Pat Gray [FBI] and just
say, ‘Stay the hell out of this ... this is ah, business here
we don’t want you to go any further on it.’”
Nixon approved the plan, and after he was given more information about
the involvement of his campaign in the break-in, he told Haldeman:
“All right, fine, I understand it all. We won’t second-guess
Mitchell and the rest.” Returning to the use of the CIA to obstruct
the FBI, he instructed Haldeman: “You call them in. Good. Good deal.
Play it tough. That’s the way they play it and that’s the way we
are going to play it.”
Nixon denied that this constituted an obstruction of justice, as his
instructions ultimately resulted in the CIA truthfully reporting to
the FBI that there were no national security issues. Nixon urged the
FBI to press forward with the investigation when they expressed
concern about interference.
Before the release of this tape, Nixon had denied any involvement in
the scandal. He claimed that there were no political motivations in
his instructions to the CIA, and claimed he had no knowledge before
March 21, 1973, of involvement by senior campaign officials such as
John Mitchell. The contents of this tape persuaded Nixon's own
Fred Buzhardt and James St. Clair, that “the President had
lied to the nation, to his closest aides, and to his own lawyers—for
more than two years.” The tape, which
Barber Conable referred to
as a “smoking gun,” proved that Nixon had been involved in the
cover-up from the beginning.
In the week before Nixon's resignation, Ehrlichman and Haldeman tried
unsuccessfully to get Nixon to grant them pardons—which he had
promised them before their April 1973 resignations.
"Resignation of Richard Nixon" redirects here. For the nationally
televised address from the Oval Office, see Richard Nixon's
Further information: Inauguration of Gerald Ford
Nixon's resignation letter, August 9, 1974
Oliver F. Atkins’ photo of Nixon leaving the
White House on Marine
One shortly before his resignation became effective, August 9,
The release of the “smoking gun” tape destroyed Nixon politically.
The ten congressmen who had voted against all three articles of
impeachment in the
House Judiciary Committee
House Judiciary Committee announced they would all
support the impeachment article accusing Nixon of obstructing justice
when the articles came up before the full House.
On the night of August 7, 1974, Senators
Barry Goldwater and Hugh
Scott and Congressman
John Jacob Rhodes met with Nixon in the Oval
Office. Scott and Rhodes were the Republican leaders in the Senate and
House, respectively; Goldwater was brought along as an elder
statesman. The three lawmakers told Nixon that his support in Congress
had all but disappeared. Rhodes told Nixon that he would face certain
impeachment when the articles came up for vote in the full House.
Goldwater and Scott told the president that there were enough votes in
the Senate to convict him, and that no more than 15 Senators were
willing to vote for acquittal.
Realizing that he had no chance of staying in office and that public
opinion was not in his favor, Nixon decided to resign.  In a
nationally televised address from the
Oval Office on the evening of
August 8, 1974, the president said, in part:
In all the decisions I have made in my public life, I have always
tried to do what was best for the Nation. Throughout the long and
difficult period of Watergate, I have felt it was my duty to
persevere, to make every possible effort to complete the term of
office to which you elected me. In the past few days, however, it has
become evident to me that I no longer have a strong enough political
base in the Congress to justify continuing that effort. As long as
there was such a base, I felt strongly that it was necessary to see
the constitutional process through to its conclusion, that to do
otherwise would be unfaithful to the spirit of that deliberately
difficult process and a dangerously destabilizing precedent for the
I would have preferred to carry through to the finish whatever the
personal agony it would have involved, and my family unanimously urged
me to do so. But the interest of the Nation must always come before
any personal considerations. From the discussions I have had with
Congressional and other leaders, I have concluded that because of the
Watergate matter I might not have the support of the Congress that I
would consider necessary to back the very difficult decisions and
carry out the duties of this office in the way the interests of the
Nation would require.
I have never been a quitter. To leave office before my term is
completed is abhorrent to every instinct in my body. But as President,
I must put the interest of America first. America needs a full-time
President and a full-time Congress, particularly at this time with
problems we face at home and abroad. To continue to fight through the
months ahead for my personal vindication would almost totally absorb
the time and attention of both the President and the Congress in a
period when our entire focus should be on the great issues of peace
abroad and prosperity without inflation at home. Therefore, I shall
resign the Presidency effective at noon tomorrow. Vice President Ford
will be sworn in as President at that hour in this office.
Oliver F. Atkins' photo of Nixon leaving the
White House shortly
before his resignation became effective, August 9, 1974
The morning that his resignation took effect, the President, with Mrs.
Nixon and their family, said farewell to the
White House staff in the
East Room. A helicopter carried them from the
White House to
Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. Nixon later wrote that he thought,
“As the helicopter moved on to Andrews, I found myself thinking not
of the past, but of the future. What could I do now?” At Andrews, he
and his family boarded Air Force One to El Toro Marine Corps Air
Station in California, and then were transported to his home La Casa
Pacifica in San Clemente.
President Ford’s pardon of Nixon
Pardon of Richard Nixon
Pen used by President Gerald R. Ford to pardon
Richard Nixon on
September 8, 1974
With Nixon's resignation, Congress dropped its impeachment
proceedings. Criminal prosecution was still a possibility both on the
federal and state level. Nixon was succeeded by Vice President
Gerald Ford as President, who on September 8, 1974, issued a full and
unconditional pardon of Nixon, immunizing him from prosecution for any
crimes he had “committed or may have committed or taken part in”
as president. In a televised broadcast to the nation, Ford
explained that he felt the pardon was in the best interest of the
country. He said that the Nixon family’s situation “is an American
tragedy in which we all have played a part. It could go on and on and
on, or someone must write the end to it. I have concluded that only I
can do that, and if I can, I must.”
Nixon proclaimed his innocence until his death in 1994. In his
official response to the pardon, he said that he “was wrong in not
acting more decisively and more forthrightly in dealing with
Watergate, particularly when it reached the stage of judicial
proceedings and grew from a political scandal into a national
Some commentators have argued that pardoning Nixon contributed to
President Ford’s loss of the presidential election of 1976.
Allegations of a secret deal made with Ford, promising a pardon in
return for Nixon's resignation, led Ford to testify before the House
Judiciary Committee on October 17, 1974.
Wikisource has original text related to this article:
The Nixon Pardon
In his autobiography A Time to Heal, Ford wrote about a meeting he had
with Nixon’s Chief of Staff, Alexander Haig. Haig was explaining
what he and Nixon’s staff thought were Nixon’s only options. He
could try to ride out the impeachment and fight against conviction in
the Senate all the way, or he could resign. His options for resigning
were to delay his resignation until further along in the impeachment
process, to try and settle for a censure vote in Congress, or to
pardon himself and then resign. Haig told Ford that some of Nixon’s
staff suggested that Nixon could agree to resign in return for an
agreement that Ford would pardon him.
Haig emphasized that these weren’t his suggestions. He didn’t
identify the staff members and he made it very clear that he wasn’t
recommending any one option over another. What he wanted to know was
whether or not my overall assessment of the situation agreed with his.
[emphasis in original] ... Next he asked if I had any suggestions
as to courses of actions for the President. I didn’t think it would
be proper for me to make any recommendations at all, and I told him
— Gerald Ford, A Time to Heal
Final legal actions and effect on the law profession
Charles Colson pleaded guilty to charges concerning the Daniel
Ellsberg case; in exchange, the indictment against him for covering up
the activities of the
Committee to Re-elect the President
Committee to Re-elect the President was dropped,
as it was against Strachan. The remaining five members of the
Watergate Seven indicted in March went on trial in October 1974. On
January 1, 1975, all but Parkinson were found guilty. In 1976, the
U.S. Court of Appeals ordered a new trial for Mardian; subsequently,
all charges against him were dropped.
Haldeman, Ehrlichman, and Mitchell exhausted their appeals in 1977.
Ehrlichman entered prison in 1976, followed by the other two in 1977.
Since Nixon and many senior officials involved in Watergate were
lawyers, the scandal severely tarnished the public image of the legal
Watergate scandal resulted in 69 government officials being
charged and 48 being found guilty, including:
John N. Mitchell,
Attorney General of the United States
Attorney General of the United States who resigned
to become Director of Committee to Re-elect the President, convicted
of perjury about his involvement in the Watergate break-in. Served 19
months of a one- to four-year sentence.
Richard Kleindienst, Attorney General, convicted of "refusing to
answer questions" (contempt of court); given one month in jail.
Jeb Stuart Magruder, Deputy Director of Committee to Re-elect the
President, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to the
burglary, and was sentenced to 10 months to four years in prison, of
which he served 7 months before being paroled.
Frederick C. LaRue, Advisor to John Mitchell, convicted of obstruction
of justice. He served four and a half months.
H. R. Haldeman, Chief of Staff for Nixon, convicted of conspiracy to
the burglary, obstruction of justice, and perjury. Served 18 months in
John Ehrlichman, Counsel to Nixon, convicted of conspiracy to the
burglary, obstruction of justice, and perjury. Served 18 months in
Egil Krogh, aide to John Ehrlichman, sentenced to six months for his
part in the Daniel Ellsberg case.
John W. Dean III, counsel to Nixon, convicted of obstruction of
justice, later reduced to felony offenses and sentenced to time
already served, which totaled 4 months.
Dwight L. Chapin, deputy assistant to Nixon, convicted of perjury.
United States Secretary of Commerce
United States Secretary of Commerce who resigned to
become Finance Chairman of Committee to Re-elect the President,
convicted of multiple counts of illegal campaigning, fined $5,000 (in
1975 – $22,700 today).
Herbert W. Kalmbach, personal attorney to Nixon, convicted of illegal
campaigning. Served 191 days in prison and fined $10,000 (in 1974 –
Charles W. Colson, special counsel to Nixon, convicted of obstruction
of justice. Served 7 months in Federal Maxwell Prison.
Herbert L. Porter, aide to the Committee to Re-elect the President.
Convicted of perjury.
Convictions among members of the Watergate "burglary" team included:
G. Gordon Liddy,
Special Investigations Group, convicted of
masterminding the burglary, original sentence of up to 20 years in
prison. Served 4½ years in federal prison.
E. Howard Hunt, security consultant, convicted of masterminding and
overseeing the burglary, original sentence of up to 35 years in
prison. Served 33 months in prison.
James W. McCord Jr., convicted of six charges of burglary, conspiracy
and wiretapping. Served 2 months in prison.
Virgilio Gonzalez, convicted of burglary, original sentence of up to
40 years in prison. Served 13 months in prison.
Bernard Barker, convicted of burglary, original sentence of up to 40
years in prison. Served 18 months in prison.
Eugenio Martínez, convicted of burglary, original sentence of up to
40 years in prison. Served 15 months in prison.
Frank Sturgis, convicted of burglary, original sentence of up to 40
years in prison. Served 10 months in prison.
To defuse public demand for direct federal regulation of lawyers (as
opposed to leaving it in the hands of state bar associations or
American Bar Association
American Bar Association (ABA) launched two major
reforms. First, the ABA decided that its existing Model Code of
Professional Responsibility (promulgated 1969) was a failure. In 1983
it replaced it with the Model Rules of Professional Conduct. The
MRPC have been adopted in part or in whole by 49 states (and is being
considered[when?] by the last one, California). Its preamble contains
an emphatic reminder that the legal profession can remain
self-governing only if lawyers behave properly. Second, the ABA
promulgated a requirement that law students at ABA-approved law
schools take a course in professional responsibility (which means they
must study the MRPC). The requirement remains in effect.
On June 24 and 25, 1975, Nixon gave secret testimony to a grand jury.
According to news reports at the time, Nixon answered questions about
the 18½-minute tape gap, altering
White House tape transcripts turned
over to the House Judiciary Committee, using the Internal Revenue
Service to harass political enemies, and a $100,000 contribution from
billionaire Howard Hughes. Aided by the Public Citizen Litigation
Group, the historian Stanley Kutler, who has written several books
about Nixon and Watergate and had successfully sued for the 1996
public release of the Nixon
White House tapes, sued for release of
the transcripts of the Nixon grand jury testimony.
On July 29, 2011, U.S. District Judge
Royce Lamberth granted Kutler's
request, saying historical interests trumped privacy, especially
considering that Nixon and other key figures were deceased, and most
of the surviving figures had testified under oath, have been written
about, or were interviewed. The transcripts were not immediately
released pending the government's decision on whether to appeal.
They were released in their entirety on November 10, 2011, although
the names of people still alive were redacted.
Texas A&M University–Central Texas professor Luke Nichter wrote
the chief judge of the federal court in Washington to release hundreds
of pages of sealed records of the Watergate Seven. In June 2012 the
U.S. Department of Justice wrote the court that it would not object to
their release with some exceptions. On November 2, 2012,
Watergate trial records for
G. Gordon Liddy
G. Gordon Liddy and James McCord were
ordered unsealed by Federal Judge Royce Lamberth.
Political and cultural reverberations
According to Thomas J. Johnson, a professor of journalism at
University of Texas at Austin, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger
predicted during Nixon's final days that history would remember Nixon
as a great president and that Watergate would be relegated to a "minor
When Congress investigated the scope of the president's legal powers,
it belatedly found that consecutive presidential administrations had
declared the United States to be in a continuous open-ended state of
emergency since 1950. Congress enacted the
National Emergencies Act
National Emergencies Act in
1976 to regulate such declarations. The
Watergate scandal left such an
impression on the national and international consciousness that many
scandals since then have been labeled with the suffix "-gate."
One of a variety of anti-Ford buttons generated during the 1976
presidential election: it reads "Gerald ...
Pardon me!" and
depicts a thief cracking a safe labeled "Watergate".
Disgust with the revelations about Watergate, the Republican Party,
and Nixon strongly affected results of the November 1974 Senate and
House elections, which took place three months after Nixon's
resignation. The Democrats gained five seats in the Senate and
forty-nine in the House (the newcomers were nicknamed "Watergate
Babies"). Congress passed legislation that changed campaign financing,
to amend the Freedom of Information Act, as well as to require
financial disclosures by key government officials (via the Ethics in
Government Act). Other types of disclosures, such as releasing recent
income tax forms, became expected, though not legally required.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt had recorded many of their
conversations but the practice purportedly ended after Watergate.
Ford's pardon of Nixon played a major role in his defeat in the 1976
presidential election against Jimmy Carter.
In 1977, Nixon arranged an interview with British journalist David
Frost in the hopes of improving his legacy. Based on a previous
interview in 1968, he believed that Frost would be an easy
interviewer and was taken aback by Frost's incisive questions. The
interview displayed the entire scandal to the American people, and
Nixon formally apologized, but his legacy remained tarnished.
In the aftermath of Watergate, "follow the money" became part of the
American lexicon and is widely believed to have been uttered by Mark
Felt to Woodward and Bernstein. The phrase was never used in the 1974
All the President's Men
All the President's Men and did not become associated with it
until the movie of the same name was released in 1976.
The parking garage where Woodward and Felt met in Rosslyn still
stands. Its significance was noted by Arlington County with a
historical marker in 2011. In 2017 it was announced that the
garage would be demolished as part of construction of an apartment
building on the site; the developers announced that the site's
significance would be memorialized within the new complex.
Purpose of the break-in
Despite the enormous impact of the Watergate scandal, the purpose of
the break-in of the DNC offices has never been conclusively
established. Records from the United States v. Liddy trial, made
public in 2013, showed that four of the five burglars testified that
they were told the campaign operation hoped to find evidence that
linked Cuban funding to Democratic campaigns. The longtime
hypothesis suggests that the target of the break-in was the offices of
Larry O'Brien, the DNC Chairman. However,
O'Brien's name was not on Alfred C. Baldwin III's list of targets that
was released in 2013. Among those listed were senior
DNC official R. Spencer Oliver, Oliver's secretary Ida "Maxine" Wells,
co-worker Robert Allen and secretary Barbara Kennedy.
Based on these revelations, Texas A&M history professor Luke
Nichter, who had successfully petitioned for the release of the
information, argued that Woodward and Bernstein were incorrect in
concluding, based largely on Watergate burglar James McCord's word,
that the purpose of the break-in was to bug O'Brien's phone to gather
political and financial intelligence on the Democrats.[citation
needed] Instead, Nichter sided with late journalist J. Anthony Lukas
of the New York Times, who had concluded that the committee was
seeking to find evidence linking the Democrats to prostitution, as it
was alleged that Oliver's office had been used to arrange such
meetings. However, Nichter acknowledged that Woodward and Bernstein's
theory of O'Brien as the target could not be debunked unless
information was released about what Baldwin heard in his bugging of
In 1968, O'Brien was appointed by Vice President
Hubert Humphrey to
serve as the national director of Humphrey's presidential campaign
and, separately, by
Howard Hughes to serve as Hughes' public-policy
lobbyist in Washington. O'Brien was elected national chairman of the
DNC in 1968 and 1970. In late 1971, the president's brother, Donald
Nixon, was collecting intelligence for his brother at the time and
asked John H. Meier, an adviser to Howard Hughes, about O'Brien. In
Donald Nixon had borrowed $205,000 from
Howard Hughes and had
never repaid the loan. The loan's existence surfaced during the 1960
presidential election campaign, embarrassing
Richard Nixon and
becoming a political liability. According to author Donald M.
Richard Nixon would do whatever was necessary to prevent
another family embarrassment. From 1968 to 1970, Hughes withdrew
nearly half a million dollars from the Texas National Bank of Commerce
for contributions to both Democrats and Republicans, including
presidential candidates Humphrey and Nixon. Hughes wanted Donald Nixon
and Meier involved but Nixon opposed this.
Meier told Donald that he was sure the Democrats would win the
election because they had considerable information on Richard Nixon's
illicit dealings with Hughes that had never been released, and that it
resided with Larry O'Brien. According to Fred Emery, O'Brien had
been a lobbyist for Hughes in a Democrat-controlled Congress, and the
possibility of his finding out about Hughes' illegal contributions to
the Nixon campaign was too much of a danger for Nixon to ignore.
James F. Neal, who prosecuted the Watergate 7, did not believe Nixon
had ordered the break-in because of Nixon's surprised reaction when he
was told about it.
Australian Prime Minister
Gough Whitlam criticised the Watergate
Question Time in May 1973. Just two years later,
in November 1975, Australia experienced its own constitutional crisis
which led to the dismissal of Whitlam by the Australian
Governor-General, Sir John Kerr.
Zhou Enlai said in October 1973 that the scandal
did not affect the relations between China and the United States.
According to Thai then-Prime Minister
Kukrit Pramoj of
July 1975, Chairman
Mao Zedong called the
Watergate scandal "the
result of 'too much freedom of political expression in the U.S.'"
Mao called it "an indication of American isolationism, which he saw as
'disastrous' for Europe." He further said, "Do Americans really want
to go isolationist? ... In the two world wars, the Americans came [in]
very late, but all the same, they did come in. They haven't been
isolationist in practice."
In August 1973, then-Prime Minister
Kakuei Tanaka said that the
scandal had "no cancelling influence on U.S. leadership in the world."
Tanaka further said, "The pivotal role of the United States has not
changed, so this internal affair will not be permitted to have an
effect." In March 1975, Tanaka's successor, Takeo Miki, said at a
convention of the Liberal Democratic Party, "At the time of the
Watergate issue in America, I was deeply moved by the scene in the
House Judiciary Committee, where each member of the committee
expressed his own or her own heart based upon the spirit of the
American Constitution. It was this attitude, I think, that rescued
Lee Kuan Yew
Lee Kuan Yew said in August 1973, "As one
surprising revelation follows another at the Senate hearings on
Watergate, it becomes increasingly clear that the District of Columbia
(Washington D.C.), today is in no position to offer the moral or
strong political and economic leadership for which its friends and
allies are yearning." Moreover, Lee said that the scandal may
have led the United States to lessen its interests and commitments in
world affairs, to weaken its ability to enforce the Paris Peace
Accords on Vietnam, and to not react to violations of the Accords. Lee
said further that the United States "makes the future of this peace in
Indonesia an extremely bleak one with grave consequence for the
contiguous states." Lee then blamed the scandal for economic inflation
in Singapore because the
Singapore dollar was pegged to the United
States dollar at the time, assuming the U.S. dollar was stronger than
the British pound sterling.
In June 1973, when
Leonid Brezhnev arrived in the United States to
have a one-week meeting with Nixon, Brezhnev told the press, "I
do not intend to refer to that matter—[the Watergate]. It would be
completely indecent for me to refer to it. ... My attitude toward Mr.
Nixon is of very great respect." When one reporter suggested that
Nixon and his position with Brezhnev were "weakened" by the scandal,
Brezhnev replied, "It does not enter my mind to think whether Mr.
Nixon has lost or gained any influence because of the affair." Then he
said further that he had respected Nixon because of Nixon's "realistic
and constructive approach to Soviet Union–United States relations
... passing from an era of confrontation to an era of negotiations
Talks between Nixon and Prime Minister
Edward Heath may have been
bugged. Heath did not publicly display his anger, with aides saying
that he was unconcerned about having been bugged at the White House.
According to officials, Heath commonly had notes taken of his public
discussions with Nixon so a recording would not have bothered him.
However, officials privately said that if private talks with Nixon
were bugged, then Heath would be outraged. Even so, Heath was
privately outraged over being taped without his prior knowledge.
Other international reactions
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi told the press in 1973, "I
want to say quite emphatically ... that everything that would weaken
or jeopardize the President's power to make decisions in split seconds
would represent grave danger for the whole world." An unnamed
Kenyan senior official of Foreign Affairs Ministry accused Nixon of
lacking interest in Africa and its politics and then said, "American
President is so enmeshed in domestic problems created by Watergate
that foreign policy seems suddenly to have taken a back seat
[sic]." Cuban then-leader
Fidel Castro said in his December 1974
interview that, of the crimes committed by the Cuban exiles, like
killings, attacks on Cuban ports, and spying, the Watergate burglaries
and wiretappings were "probably the least of [them]."
After the fall of Saigon ended the Vietnam War, Secretary of State
Henry Kissinger said in May 1975 that, if the scandal had not caused
Nixon to resign, and Congress had not overridden Nixon's veto of the
War Powers Resolution,
North Vietnam would not have captured South
Vietnam. Kissinger told the National Press Club in January 1977
that Nixon's presidential powers weakened during his tenure,
(rephrased by the media) "prevent[ing] the United States from
exploiting the [scandal]."
The publisher of The Sacramento Union, John P. McGoff, said in January
1975 that the media overemphasized the scandal, though he called it
"an important issue," overshadowing more serious topics, like
declining economy and the energy crisis.
List of American federal politicians convicted of crimes
List of federal political scandals in the United States
List of scandals with "-gate" suffix
^ "A burglary turns into a constitutional crisis". CNN. June 16, 2004.
Retrieved May 13, 2014.
^ Manheim, Karl. "Nixon Articles of Impeachment".
^ a b Bill Marsh (October 30, 2005). "Ideas & Trends – When
Criminal Charges Reach the White House". The New York Times. Retrieved
September 30, 2014.
^ Dickinson, William B.; Mercer Cross; Barry Polsky (1973). Watergate:
chronology of a crisis. 1. Washington D. C.: Congressional Quarterly
Inc. pp. 8 133 140 180 188. ISBN 0-87187-059-2.
OCLC 20974031. This book is volume one of a two-volume set.
Both volumes share the same ISBN and Library of Congress call number,
E859 .C62 1973
^ a b "The Smoking Gun Tape" (Transcript of the recording of a meeting
between President Nixon and H. R. Haldeman). Watergate.info website.
June 23, 1972. Retrieved January 17, 2007.
^ narrative by R.W. Apple, jr. ; chronology by Linda
Amster ; general ed.: Gerald Gold. (1973). The Watergate
hearings: break-in and cover-up; proceedings. New York: Viking Press.
ISBN 0-670-75152-9. CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list
^ Nixon, Richard (1974). The
White House Transcripts. New York: Viking
Press. ISBN 0-670-76324-1. OCLC 1095702.
^ The evidence was quite simple: the voice of the President on June
23, 1972 directed the
Central Intelligence Agency
Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to halt an FBI
investigation that would be politically embarrassing to his
re-election. This direction was an obstruction of justice. White,
Theodore Harold (1975). Breach of Faith: The Fall of Richard Nixon.
New York: Atheneum Publishers. p. 7.
^ White (1975), Breach of Faith, p. 29. "And the most punishing
blow of all was to come in late afternoon when the President received,
in his Oval Office, the Congressional leaders of his party -– Barry
Hugh Scott and John Rhodes. The accounts of all three
coincide. Goldwater averred that there were not more than fifteen
votes left in his support in the Senate."
Alexander Haig and
James St. Clair
James St. Clair learned of the existence of
this tape and they were convinced that it would guarantee Nixon's
impeachment in the House of Representatives and conviction in the
Senate." Dash, Samuel (1976). Chief Counsel: Inside the Ervin
Committee – The Untold Story of Watergate. New York: Random House.
pp. 259–260. ISBN 0-394-40853-5.
^ Trahair, R.C.S From Aristotelian to Reaganomics: A Dictionary of
Eponyms With Biographies in the Social Sciences. Santa Barbara,
Calif.: Greenwood Publishing Group, 1994. ISBN 0-313-27961-6
^ Smith, Ronald D. and Richter, William Lee. Fascinating People and
Astounding Events From American History. Santa Barbara, Calif.:
ABC-CLIO, 1993. ISBN 0-87436-693-3
^ Lull, James and Hinerman, Stephen. Media Scandals: Morality and
Desire in the Popular Culture Marketplace. New York: Columbia
University Press, 1997. ISBN 0-231-11165-7
^ Hamilton, Dagmar S. "The Nixon Impeachment and the Abuse of
Presidential Power," In Watergate and Afterward: The Legacy of Richard
M. Nixon. Leon Friedman and William F. Levantrosser, eds. Santa
Barbara, Calif.: Greenwood Publishing Group, 1992.
^ "El 'valijagate' sigue dando disgustos a Cristina Fernández
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Doyle, James (1977). Not Above the Law: the battles of Watergate
prosecutors Cox and Jaworski. New York: William Morrow and Company.
Hougan, Jim (1984). Watergate, Deep Throat and the CIA. New York:
Random House, Inc. ISBN 0-394-51428-9. This was the first
book to question the orthodox narrative of The Washington Post.
Schudson, Michael (1992). Watergate in American memory: how we
remember, forget, and reconstruct the past. New York: BasicBooks.
Holland, Max (2012). Leak: Why
Mark Felt Became Deep Throat. Lawrence,
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White, Theodore Harold (1975). Breach of faith: the fall of Richard
Nixon. New York: Atheneum Publishers. ISBN 0-689-10658-0. A
comprehensive history of the Watergate Scandal by Teddy White, a
respected journalist and author of The Making of the President series.
Woodward, Bob and Bernstein, Carl wrote a best-selling book based on
their experiences covering the Watergate Scandal for The Washington
Post titled All the President's Men, published in 1974. A film
Robert Redford and
Dustin Hoffman as Woodward and
Bernstein respectively, was released in 1976.
Woodward, Bob; Bernstein, Carl (2005). The Final Days. New York: Simon
& Schuster. ISBN 0-7432-7406-7. – contains
further details from March 1973 through September 1974.
U.S. News Staff (2014-08-08). "Watergate and the White House: The
'Third-Rate Burglary' That Toppled a President. Summarized key
Watergate dates and details and its impact on President Richard Nixon
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vocabulary which offers lessons about the dangers of using deceptive
language that remain relevant today by Hugh Rawson, director of
Penguin USA's reference books operation". dictionaryblog.cambridge.org
– A blog from Cambridge Dictionary. Archived from the original on
2017-08-05. Retrieved 2017-08-05 – via The Internet Archive.
Rawson, Hugh (2013-01-28). "Words of Watergate: Part 2; A work about
political vocabulary which offers lessons about the dangers of using
deceptive language that remain relevant today by Hugh Rawson, director
of Penguin USA's reference books operation".
dictionaryblog.cambridge.org – A blog from Cambridge Dictionary.
Archived from the original on 2017-08-05. Retrieved 2017-08-05 – via
The Internet Archive.
Waldron, Lamar (2012). The Hidden History. Berkeley, California:
Counterpoint publishers. ISBN 1-582-43813-7.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Watergate.
Wikiquote has quotations related to: Watergate scandal
Wikiquote has quotations related to: Richard Nixon
Washington Post Watergate Archive
Washington Post Watergate Tapes Online – The Washington Post
Watergate Trial Conversations –
Richard Nixon Presidential Library
FBI Records: The Vault – Watergate at vault.fbi.gov
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^ "A New Explanation of Watergate," by J. Anthony Lukas, The New York