January 24, 2012. What was Watergate and how did if affect America? Quiz Section 1 Hope you did your homework! Watergate Presentations Tomorrow Homework: Study . When Richard Nixon took office in 1968, the executive branch of government had become the most powerful branch of government.
When Richard Nixon took office in 1968, the executive branch of government had become the most powerful branch of government.
The expansion of the power of the presidency originated with Theodore Roosevelt and continued to expand even further during the administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Nixon continued to expand the powers of the presidency through impounding funds for federal programs and ordering troops to Cambodia without congressional approval.
Lyndon Johnson increased presidential authority by using the Tonkin Gulf Resolution as a basis for waging war on Vietnam.
Nixon believed with his powers that the people didn’t want him to be on their level but to maintain an “imperial presidency.”
The president choose a small group of loyal advisers as he distanced himself from Congress, that became known as “The President’s Men.” These men also felt they were above the law and helped in Nixon’s 1968 election. Now they would help direct White House policy.
John Ehrlichman was the Chief Domestic Adviser.
H.R. Haldeman was the White House Chief of Staff.
John W. Dean, III was the head of the Presidential Counsel.
John Mitchell was the Attorney General.
These men shared Nixon’s desire for secrecy and the consolidation of power.
The President’s Men were willing to do anything to ensure his election in 1972.
On June 17, 1972, five men were caught breaking into the campaign headquarters at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters at the Watergate office and apartment complex in Washington, D.C.
The group’s leader was former CIA agent, James McCord who was also a security coordinator for a group known as the Committee to Reelect the President (CRP).
The burglars planned to photograph documents outlining the Democratic Party’s strategy and to place “bugs”, wiretaps, on the office telephones.
The CRP’s director was John Mitchell, who had resigned as attorney general to run Nixon’s reelection campaign.
With the president’s consent, the White House asked the CIA to urge the FBI to stop its investigations into the burglary on the grounds of national security.
The cover-up quickly began. Workers shredded incriminating documents in Haldeman’s office.
The Committee to Reelect the President (CRP) handed out nearly $450,000 to the Watergate burglars for their silence after their indictment in September, 1972.
Throughout the 1972 reelection campaign, the Watergate Affair generated little interest among the American public and media.
However, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of the Washington Post kept the story alive.
In a series of stories, the two reporters using an anonymous source uncovered information that linked many members of the administration to the burglary.
The White House denied each new Post allegation and cast Nixon as a “global peacemaker” in his recent visits to China and the Soviet Union and his promise of peace in Vietnam.
In January, 1973, the trial of the Watergate burglars began.
Presiding over the trial was John Sirica who believed the men had not acted alone.
A few days before the sentencing of the burglars, James McCord sent a letter to Sirica in which he indicated that he had lied under oath and hinted that members of Nixon’s administrated had been involved in the break-in.
On April 30, 1973, Nixon dismissed White House counsel John Dean.
Nixon also announced the resignations of Haldeman and Ehrlichman.
Nixon appeared on television and denied any attempt at a cover-up.
Haldeman, Ehrlichman, and Dean had all been involved in the Watergate Affair.
Nixon also announced the appointment of a new attorney general, Elliot Richardson with authorization to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Watergate.
In May, 1973, the Senate started its own investigation of Watergate.
A special Senate committee, chaired by Senator Samuel James Ervin of North Carolina called for the “president’s men” to give testimony.
Senator Howard Baker repeatedly asked, “What did the president know and when did he know it?”
John Dean revealed that Nixon was deeply involved in the cover-up and that he along with other advisers had discussed strategies to continue the deceit.
The White House denied Dean’s allegations.
The key to revealing what Nixon knew came from presidential aide, Alexander Butterfield, who revealed that Nixon had taped almost all of his presidential conversations to supposedly help him in writing his memoirs.
Elliot Richardson appointed Archibald Cox as a special prosecutor to investigate the case.
In October, 1973, the president was taken to court to obtain the tapes.
Nixon refused to turn over the tapes, and ordered Attorney General Richardson to fire Cox. Richardson refused and resigned.
Solicitor General Robert Bork finally fired Cox. This event became known as the Saturday Night Massacre.
Cox’s replacement was Leon Jaworski who too was determined to get the tapes.
Several months after the massacre, the House Judiciary Committee began examining the possibility of impeachment.
A few days before the massacre, Spiro Agnew had resigned after it was revealed that he had accepted bribes from Maryland engineering firms, as governor of Maryland and during his term as vice-president.
Acting under the 25th Amendment, Nixon nominated the House minority leader, Gerald R. Ford, as his new vice president which Congress quickly confirmed.
In March 1974, seven presidential aides were indicted on charges of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and perjury.
In the spring of 1974, Nixon told a televised audience that he was releasing 1,254 pages of edited transcripts of White House conversations concerning Watergate.
Investigators demanded the unedited tapes, which Nixon refused to do. The case was brought before the Supreme Court.
On July 24, 1974, the Supreme Court ruled that the president must surrender the tapes and rejected Nixon’s argument that doing so would violate national security. The Supreme Court said that evidence involving a crime could not be withheld, even by the President.
Nixon maintained that he had done nothing wrong and at a November 1973 press conference emphatically declared, “I am not a crook.”
The House Judiciary Committee determined that there was enough evidence to impeach Nixon and on July 27, the committee approved three articles of impeachment.
The President was charged with obstruction of justice, abuse of power, and contempt of Congress for refusing to obey a congressional subpoena to release the tapes.
The tapes were released on August 5 and contained many gaps.
One gap of 18 ½ minutes containing a conversation between H.R. Haldeman and Nixon was explained as an accidental erasing by Rose Mary Woods, Nixon’s secretary.
A tape six dates after the Watergate break-in, dated June 23, 1972, proved that Nixon knew about the break-in and had agreed to the plan to cover up Watergate and obstruct the FBI’s investigation.
On August 8, 1974, the House prepared to vote on the articles of impeachment.
Before the Senate could announce the impeachment though, Nixon announced his resignation from the presidency, never admitting guilt, only that some of his judgments “were wrong.”
The next day, Nixon and his wife Pat leave the White House and returned home to California.
Shortly after, Gerald Ford was sworn in as the 38th president of the United States.
Eventually 25 members of the Nixon Administration were convicted and served prison terms for crimes connected to Watergate.
Watergate’s impact is still felt today as the media and the American pubic continue to be cynical about government and government officials.