Former President Richard Nixon was known to have caused one of the nation’s greatest scandals. Because of this, he was forced to resign, but did you know how many people he took down with him?
The Watergate Scandal was one of the most high-profile issues in the Whitehouse. Sixty-nine people were indicted, and 48 were convicted. Most of them were part of Nixon’s top administration.
Details on the Watergate Incident
On the morning of June 17, 1972, the Washington Police arrested five burglars who were caught in office of the Democratic National Committee located in the Watergate complex of the capitol. Upon investigation, four of the five had been active Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) agents who carried out actions against Cuban President Fidel Castro.
The fifth burglar was identified as James W. McCord. He was the security chief of the Committee to Re-elect the President (CREEP), under John Mitchell’s control, President Nixon’s former attorney general. (Source: Britannica)
At the time, Nixon was running for reelection and felt that an aggressive campaign was essential as it was a time when the nation was divided due to the Vietnam war. Nixon’s administration employed aggressive tactics, including illegal espionage. CREEP was assigned to steal copies of top-secret documents and wiretap phones in the Democratic National Committee’s office in the hopes of gaining unfair advantages Nixon could use.
They realized that the wiretaps were not working properly, so they sent five alleged burglars to fix the problem. The burglars were caught when a security guard noticed that several of the door locks in the building were taped over. The guard called the police, who came on time and caught them red-handed.
Suspicion with Nixon’s involvement loomed over the investigation when detectives found copies of CREEP’s phone numbers in the burglar’s belongings. (Source: History)
The Scandal and the Aftermath
As the crime started looking like a conspiracy and not just a simple breaking and entering act, several people began their investigations, including Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. Soon, the duo got in touch with an anonymous whistleblower, whom they called Deep Throat, who gave them vital information linking the newly re-elected President Nixon to the crime.
As the investigation continued, some members of the Nixon administration began switching sides, eventually testifying against Nixon and the crimes he committed. One of Nixon’s aides, John Dean, testified that Nixon secretly taped every conversation in the Oval Office in front of the grand jury.
More information leading to Nixon’s connection to the Watergate Scandal was brought to light when in 1974, the Supreme Court ordered the President to hand over the tapes of secretly recorded conversations in the Oval office. The recordings provided undeniable evidence of Nixon’s involvement in the scandal. (Source: History)
The investigations led to the identification of 69 individuals part of Nixon’s administration. Out of the 69, 48 were convicted for their role in the President’s crimes. Nixon, who faced definite impeachment, resigned from his office in August 1974 and was replaced by his vice-president, Gerald Ford.
Ford boldly decided to grant Nixon a full and unconditional pardon for any crime he committed while seated as the President. This decision caused the nation to lose its faith in the new President and has caused doubts cast upon the government’s transparency. (Source: Britannica)