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Watergate Scandal Essay Example for Free
Watergate Scandal Essay The Watergate Scandal is one of the most crucial and controversial moments in United States history, proving to be extremely influential in both constitutional and political concerns. What began as a seemingly simple burglary turned out to be a revelation of the abuse of power of the Chief Executive and the violations of the rights of the citizens. It eventually resulted in the first resignation of an American president. The name Watergate is the term designated to collectively identify the scandal and controversy that surrounded the Nixon administration (Patterson 64; Ã¢â¬Å"WatergateÃ¢â¬ ). The scandal began with the burglary which occurred on June 17, 1972, as five men forced entry into the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). The DNC office was situated at the Watergate building in Washington, D. C. In the beginning, the burglary was not highly publicized. However, there were two reporters from the Washington Post that persistently followed the story; they were Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward (Washington Post; Ã¢â¬Å"WatergateÃ¢â¬ ). Woodward soon learned that the burglars were from Miami; they used surgical gloves in the burglary and left with a significant sum of money (Washington Post). Bernstein and Woodward soon worked on other reports which began to reveal more about the nature of the burglary (Washington Post). It was later revealed that one of the burglars was James McCord; he was involved in the Committee to Re-elect the President (CRP) (Patterson 64; Washington Post). Afterwards, President Richard Nixon and his chief of staff H. R. Haldeman began planning ways in which the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) can persuade the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to discontinue the investigation regarding the burglary (Washington Post). Some weeks after, the two reporters discovered that the grand jury responsible for the burglary investigation had tried to obtain the testimony of two officials that previously worked in the Nixon White House (Washington Post). These men were E. Howard Hunt, who used to work for the CIA, and G. Gordon Liddy, who used to work for the FBI. Hunt and Liddy participated in the burglary through the use of walkie-talkies; situated in one of the hotel rooms across the building, they used the said device to guide the burglars. In September 1972, Hunt, Liddy, McCord and the four other burglars were charged with burglary, conspiracy and wiretapping (Patterson 64). District Court Judge John J. Sirica was the presiding judge for the case, and he convicted all seven men who received prison term sentences (Patterson 64). The Washington Post reporters continued their thorough inquiry into the burglary issue. Bernstein proceeded to Miami, wherein he discovered that a check worth $25,000 that was intended for the reelection campaign of Nixon was deposited in one of the burglars bank account (Washington Post). According to the report, the check was received by Maurice Stans; he was the former Secretary of Commerce which also became the chief fundraiser for Nixon. This is the first time that a direct link between the burglary and the reelection campaign funds of Nixon was discovered. All the important details that Washington Post used in their reports were taken from a reliable anonymous source that was referred to as Deep Throat (Washington Post; Ã¢â¬Å"WatergateÃ¢â¬ ). The identity of this source was only revealed in 2005; it turned out to be W. Mark Felt, the deputy director for the FBI during the Watergate scandal (Washington Post; Ã¢â¬Å"WatergateÃ¢â¬ ). The Washington Post stories continued its investigation, and soon it brought to light the involvement of several of Nixons closest aides (Washington Post; Ã¢â¬Å"WatergateÃ¢â¬ ). These included John N. Mitchell, a former U. S. Attorney General and assistant to the CRP director; John W. Dean III, a counsel to the White House; John Ehrlichman, a White House Special Assistant on Domestic Affairs and Haldeman. In February 1973, the U. S. Senate created a committee to be lead by North Carolina Senator Sam Ervin, to investigate the issue at hand. On April 30, 1973, as the reports regarding the White House involvement with Watergate burglary intensified, Nixon made public the resignations of Haldeman and Ehrlichman, as well as the dismissal of Dean (Washington Post; Ã¢â¬Å"WatergateÃ¢â¬ ). Richard Kleindienst, the U. S. Attorney General, also submitted his resignation (Ã¢â¬Å"WatergateÃ¢â¬ ). The Senate investigation also intensified (Patterson 64). Aside from the Committee, the investigation now included Judge Sirica, Bernstein and Woodward, and Archibald Cox. Elliot Richardson succeeded Kleindienst as attorney general, and Cox was the special prosecutor assigned by Richardson (Ã¢â¬Å"WatergateÃ¢â¬ ). In May 1973, the hearings of the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Activities began. Dean told the committee that the burglary was the brainchild of Mitchell. He also claimed that Nixon himself released money to silence the burglars (Ã¢â¬Å"WatergateÃ¢â¬ ). However, the most crucial step in the investigation was the testimony of Alexander Butterfield (Ã¢â¬Å"WatergateÃ¢â¬ ). Butterfield was a former staff member in the White House (Patterson 64). On July 16, 1973, he testified that Nixon ordered for a system to be installed which enabled all conversations to be tape recorded (Ã¢â¬Å"WatergateÃ¢â¬ ). Immediately, the Senate Committee sought to acquire the tapes (Patterson 64). The former subpoenaed eight tapes as included in Deans testimony (Ã¢â¬Å"WatergateÃ¢â¬ ). Nixon used Executive Privilege as an excuse to not to release the tapes; he also attempted to have Cox fired (Patterson 64). On October 20, 1973, Richardson resigned in protest of Nixons efforts to have Cox fired (Patterson 64; Ã¢â¬Å"WatergateÃ¢â¬ ). Even William Ruckelshaus, the Deputy Attorney General, resigned. In the end, it was Solicitor General Robert Bork who fired Cox. The series of events was later known as the Saturday Night Massacre (Patterson 64; Ã¢â¬Å"WatergateÃ¢â¬ ). On November 1, Leon Jaworski became the new special prosecutor (Patterson 64; Ã¢â¬Å"WatergateÃ¢â¬ ). Nixon did submit the tapes to Judge Sirica, but some conversations were missing while one tape had an 18-minute gap caused by erasures (Ã¢â¬Å"WatergateÃ¢â¬ ). In March 1974, seven men, including Haldeman, Ehrlichman and Mitchell, were indicted for conspiracy to obstruct justice with regards to the Watergate cover up (Patterson 64; Ã¢â¬Å"WatergateÃ¢â¬ ). Soon, the House Judiciary Committee held its own investigation; in April that same year, the tapes of 42 conversations in the White House were subpoenaed by the committee. Later that month, Nixon released instead Ã¢â¬Å"edited transcriptsÃ¢â¬ (Ã¢â¬Å"WatergateÃ¢â¬ ). The transcripts were not accepted by the committee, as it was not what they were asking for in the subpoena. Afterwards, Judge Sirica also subpoenaed for another set of tapes. This time, it was those which contained the 42 conversations in the White House. The said tapes were to be used as evidence against the seven aforementioned officials. One again, Nixon failed to do so. This forced Jaworski to appeal to the Supreme Court (Patterson 64; Ã¢â¬Å"WatergateÃ¢â¬ ). On July 24, The Supreme Court unanimously voted that Nixon release the tapes (Patterson 64; Ã¢â¬Å"WatergateÃ¢â¬ ). The last few days of July 1974 was characterized by the efforts of the Judiciary Committee to impeach Nixon (Ã¢â¬Å"WatergateÃ¢â¬ ). The grounds for impeachment were the following: Ã¢â¬Å"obstruction of justice, abuse of presidential powers, and trying to impede the impeachment process by defying committee subpoenasÃ¢â¬ (Patterson 64). On August 5, 1974, Nixon finally released the tapes in public (Patterson 64; Ã¢â¬Å"WatergateÃ¢â¬ ). One of the said tapes revealed how Nixon was indeed guilty in attempting to hinder the FBI in investigating the Watergate burglary (Patterson 64). On August 9, 1974, President Richard Nixon resigned as chief executive (Patterson 64; Ã¢â¬Å"WatergateÃ¢â¬ ). The Watergate scandal had extremely shattered the belief of the American community in their own president (Ã¢â¬Å"WatergateÃ¢â¬ ). Even the U. S. Constitution was tested in this situation. However, the scandal proved that indeed the system of checks and balances was effective enough to detect the abuse in power. It also taught everyone a lesson: regardless of the ones position in society, the law applies to all (Ã¢â¬Å"WatergateÃ¢â¬ ). Hence, the Watergate scandal brought the downfall of an abusive president and the peoples belief in the presidency. However, it was also a victory for the American people, as justice was served to those at fault as justice was attained by those who fought for it. Works Cited Patterson, James T. Ã¢â¬Å"Watergate. Ã¢â¬ Lexicon Universal Encyclopedia. 21 vols. New York: Lexicon Publications, 1992. Ã¢â¬Å"Watergate. Ã¢â¬ Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia. 2007. 20 May 2008 http://encarta. msn. com/encyclopedia_761553070/Watergate. html. Washington Post. Ã¢â¬Å"Part 1: The Post Investigates. Ã¢â¬ The Watergate Story. 20 May 2008 http://www. washingtonpost. com/wp-srv/politics/special/watergate/part1. html.