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Watergate. The downfall of President Richard M. Nixon. Battling Political Enemies. Political Enemies : President Nixon had a secretive, suspicious nature and created a list of “political enemies” who he considered hostile toward his administration

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The downfall of President

Richard M. Nixon


Battling Political Enemies

  • Political Enemies: President Nixon had a secretive, suspicious nature
  • and created a list of “political enemies” who he considered hostile
  • toward his administration
  • Wiretaps: used to spy on people on his staff and reporters
  • Pentagon Papers: Secret White House documents that exposed JFK and
  • LBJ misleading Congress and the public about the Vietnam War that was
  • “leaked” to the NY Times – NY Times vs. U.S.
  • D. Plumbers: Secret White House unit created to stop “leaks” from the White
  • House. They were made up of ex CIA and FBI agents. They conducted
  • “smear” campaigns to discredit critics of President Nixon
1972 presidential election
1972 Presidential Election
  • CREEP – Committee to Re-elect the President led by Attorney General John Mitchell, used questionable tactics or “dirty tricks” to discredit Democratic candidates running for office
  • Hecklers were sent to Democratic rallies and Nixon “spies” joined Democratic organizations to report back to CREEP
  • The Watergate Break-in – “Plumbers” installed listening devises in the headquarters of the Democratic Party in the Watergate Complex in Washington DC
  • Plumbers were caught by a security guard and arrested
the cover up
The Cover Up
  • President Nixon orders the CIA to persuade the FBI to stop the investigation, thus illegally obstructing justice by attempting to cover up the truth about the White House involvement in the Watergate break-in.
  • Nixon uses $1,000,000 of campaign funds to pay the burglars to plea guilty (hush money) and not implicate the White House in the burglary
  • Nixon wins a landslide election in 1972 defeating George McGovern 520 electoral votes to 17. McGovern only carried Massachusetts and Wash. DC.
the scandal unfolds
The Scandal Unfolds
  • The Watergate Trial – All 5 burglars plead guilty and remain quiet about the White House involvement.
  • Woodward and Bernstein – Two Washington Post reporters expose secret funds and “dirty tricks”.
  • Senate Select Committee (May 1973) begin investigation into White House involvement and subpoena Nixon aides.
  • Watergate Tapes – Alexander Butterfield testifies that Nixon has been audio taping all White House conversations. Nixon refuses to hand over the tapes citing reasons of national security and executive privilege.
  • Saturday Night Massacre – Nixon fires the special prosecutor to investigate Watergate scandal and his Attorney General who refused to go along with the dismissal.
scandal unfolds continued
Scandal Unfolds Continued
  • Senate Select Committee investigation reveals that Nixon used the IRS to harass innocent citizens, and accepted bribes from various lobbying groups.
  • Vice President, Spiro T. Agnew is forced to resign for taking bribes while serving as governor of Maryland.
  • Congress appoints Gerald Ford to replace Agnew.
  • Former White House lawyer, John Dean, testifies that Nixon and his White House officials obstructed justice by covering up the Watergate break-in.
president nixon resigns
President Nixon Resigns
  • The Supreme Court orders Nixon to release the tapes which clearly implicate him in an attempt to cover up the Watergate burglary and obstruction of justice
  • The House Judiciary Committee begins to draw up articles of impeachment.
  • August 9, 1974, Nixon resigns from the Presidency and Gerald Ford is sworn in (the only person ever appointed president)
  • President Ford pardons Nixon for any crimes associated with the Watergate investigation
lessons learned
Lessons Learned?
  • Constitutional Crisis – Impeachment?

Did the checks and balance system work?

  • Executive Power, Executive Privilege?

At what point should the president be able to keep information from public exposure?

  • Police State?

How much force is reasonable to maintain law and order within a nation?

  • Election of Public Officials?

How much blame should be put on the American people for Watergate? They are the ones who elected Nixon.