The tapes The hearings held by the Senate Watergate Committee, in which Dean was the star witness and in which many other former key administration officials gave dramatic testimony, were broadcast through most of the summer, causing devastating political damage to Nixon. The Senate investigators also discovered a crucial fact on July 13: Alexander Butterfield, deputy assistant to the President, revealed during an interview with a committee staff member that a taping system in the White House automatically recorded everything in the Oval Office-tape recordings that could prove whether Nixon or Dean was telling the truth about key meetings. The tapes were soon subpoenaed by both Cox and the Senate. Nixon refused, citing the theory of executive privilege, and ordered Cox, via Attorney General Richardson, to drop his subpoena. Cox's refusal led to the 'Saturday Night Massacre' on October 20, 1973, when Nixon compelled the resignations of Richardson and then his deputy in a search for someone in the Justice Department willing to fire Cox. This search ended with Robert Bork, and the new acting department head dismissed the special prosecutor.
Allegations of wrongdoing caused Nixon to famously state 'I am not a crook' in front of 400 Associated Press managing editors at Walt Disney World in Florida on November 17. While Nixon continued to refuse to turn over actual tapes, he did agree to release edited transcripts of a large number. These largely confirmed Dean's account, and caused further embarrassment when a crucial, 18 1/2 portion of one tape, which had never been out of White House custody, was found to have been erased. The White House blamed this on Nixon's secretary, Rose Mary Woods, who said she had accidentally erased the tape by pushing the wrong foot pedal on her tape player while answering the phone. However, as photos splashed all over the press showed, for Woods to answer the phone and keep her foot on the pedal involved a stretch that would have challenged many a gymnast. She was then said to have held this position for the full 18 1/2 minutes.
Later forensic analysis determined that the gap had been erased several-perhaps as many as nine-times over, refuting the 'accidental erasure' explanation... This issue of access to the tapes went all the way to the Supreme Court and on July 24, 1974 the Court unanimously ruled in United States v. Nixon that Nixon's claim of executive privilege over the tapes was void and they further ordered him to surrender them to special prosecutor Leon Jaworski. On July 30 he complied with the order and released the subpoenaed tapes. Articles of impeachment, resignation, and convictions On March 1, 1974, the 'Watergate Seven,' former aides of the president-Haldeman, Ehrlichman, Mitchell, Colson, Gordon C. Strachan, Robert Mardian, and Kenneth Parkinson-had been indicted for conspiring to hinder the Watergate investigation.
The grand jury also secretly named Nixon as an un indicted co-conspirator. Dean, Magruder and other figures in the scandal had already pleaded guilty. Colson in his book Born Again stated that he was given a report by a White House aide that clearly implicated the CIA in the whole Watergate scandal and showed an attempt to implicate him as the one responsible. Nixon's position was becoming increasingly precarious, and the House of Representatives began formal investigations into the possible impeachment of the President.
The House Judiciary Committee voted 27 to 11 on July 27, 1974 to recommend the first article of impeachment against the President: obstruction of justice. Then on July 29 the second article, abuse of power, was passed and on July 30 the third, contempt of Congress, was also passed. In August, a previously unknown tape was released for June 23, 1972, recorded only a few days after the break-in, in which Nixon and Haldeman formulated the plan to block investigations by raising bogus national security claims. The tape was referred to as a 'smoking gun.' With this last piece of evidence, Nixon's few remaining supporters deserted him.
The ten congressmen who had voted against the Articles of Impeachment in committee announced that they would all support impeachment when the vote was taken in the full House. Nixon leaving the White House after his resignation, August 9, 1974 Nixon's support in the Senate was weak as well. After being told by key Republican Senators that enough votes existed to convict him, Nixon decided to resign. In a nationally televised address on the evening of August 8, 1974, he announced he would resign effective noon on August 9. Ultimately, Nixon was never actually impeached or convicted, since his resignation voided the issue. He was succeeded by Gerald Ford, who on September 8 issued a widely-scoped pardon for Nixon, immunizing him from prosecution for any crimes he may have committed as President.
Nixon proclaimed his innocence until his death, but his acceptance of the pardon implied otherwise in the eyes of many. Accepting a presidential pardon is voluntary and constitutes a legal admission of guilt, as opposed to a commutation of sentence which cannot be denied since legal guilt was established at the time of conviction. As for Nixon's aides, Dean pleaded guilty and served four months in protective custody as a cooperating witness. Colson later p led guilty to charges concerning the Ells berg case; in exchange, the indictment against him for covering up the activities of CREEP was dropped, as it was against Strachan. The remaining five members of the Watergate Seven indicted in March went on trial in October 1974, and 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 voluntarily entered prison in 1976 and the other two entered prison in 1977. Aftermath The effects of the Watergate scandal did not by any means end with the resignation of President Nixon and the imprisonment of some of his aides. Indirectly, Watergate was the cause of new laws leading to extensive changes in campaign financing.
It was a major factor in the passage of amendments to the Freedom of Information Act in 1986, as well as laws requiring new financial disclosures by key government officials. While not legally required, other types of personal disclosure, such as releasing recent income tax forms, became expected. Knowing he was comfortably ahead in the 1972 election, Nixon refused to debate his opponent, George McGovern. No major candidate for the presidency since has been able to avoid debates. Previous Presidents since Franklin Roosevelt had recorded many of their conversations, but after Watergate this practice became virtually non-existent.
Watergate led to a new era in which the mass media became far more aggressive in reporting on the activities of politicians. For instance, when Wilbur Mills, a powerful congressman, was in a drunken driving accident a few months after Nixon resigned, the incident, similar to others which the press had previously never mentioned, was reported, and Mills soon had to resign. In addition to reporters becoming more aggressive in revealing the personal conduct of key politicians, they also became far more cynical in reporting on political issues. A new generation of reporters, hoping to become the next Woodward and Bernstein, embraced investigative reporting and sought to uncover new scandals in the increasing amounts of financial information being released about politicians and their campaigns. Since Nixon and many senior officials involved in Watergate were lawyers, the scandal severely tarnished the public image of the legal profession.
In order to defuse public demand for direct federal regulation of lawyers (as opposed to leaving power in the hands of the lawyer-controlled state bar associations), the American Bar Association launched two major reforms. First, the ABA decided that its existing Model Code of Professional Responsibility (promulgated 1969) was a failure, and replaced it with the Model Rules of Professional Conduct in 1983. The MRPC has been adopted in part or in whole by 44 states. Its preamble contains an emphatic reminder to young lawyers 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 must take a course in professional responsibility (which means they must study the MRPC).
The requirement is still in effect today. So much did the Watergate scandal affect the national and international consciousness that many scandals since then have been labelled with the suffix '-gate'-such as Contra gate or White watergate, Travel gate in South Africa and even PEMEXGATE and Toallagate in Mexico. In 2003 a scandal involving a group of Poland's key political figures and a Polish media magnate Lew Ry win was frequently referred to in Polish media as 'Rywingate' The idea of scandals ending in '-gate' is itself lampooned in Tim Dorsey's novel Orange Crush, where a fraudulent campaign manager is overjoyed to find that after years of trying to get a '-gate's scandal of his own, he has committed 'Seniorgate' at a retirement home. web affair in U.
S. history, series of scandals involving the administration of President Richard M. Nixon; more specifically, the burglarizing of the Democratic party national headquarters in the Watergate apartment complex in Washington, D. C. 1 The Watergate Break-in On June 17, 1972, police apprehended five men attempting to break into and wiretap Democratic party offices. With two other accomplices they were tried and convicted in Jan.
, 1973. All seven men were either directly or indirectly employees of President Nixon's reelection committee, and many persons, including the trial judge, John J. Sirica, suspected a conspiracy involving higher-echelon government officials. In March, James McCord, one of the convicted burglars, wrote a letter to Sirica charging a massive coverup of the burglary. His letter transformed the affair into a political scandal of unprecedented magnitude. 2 The Investigations When a special Senate committee investigating corrupt campaign practices, headed by Senator Sam Ervin, began nationally televised hearings into the Watergate affair, former White House counsel John Dean testified that the burglary was approved by former Attorney General John Mitchell with the knowledge of chief White House advisers John Ehrlichman and H.
R. (Bob) Haldeman; he further accused President Nixon of approving the coverup. 3 Attorney General Elliot Richardson appointed (May, 1973) a special prosecutor, Archibald Cox, to investigate the entire affair; Cox and his staff began to uncover widespread evidence of political espionage by the Nixon reelection committee, illegal wiretapping of citizens by the administration, and corporate contributions to the Republican party in return for political favors. In July, 1973, it was revealed that presidential conversations in the White House had been tape recorded since 1971; Cox sued Nixon to obtain the tapes, and Nixon responded by ordering Richardson to fire him. Richardson resigned instead, and his assistant, William Ruckelshaus, also refused and was himself fired. Solicitor General Robert Bork finally fired Cox (Oct.
20, 1973) in what became known as the Saturday Night Massacre. 4 Nixon's action led to calls from the press, from government officials, and from private citizens for his impeachment, and the House of Representatives empowered its Judiciary Committee to initiate an impeachment investigation. Meanwhile, in response to a public outcry against the dismissal of Cox, President Nixon appointed a new special prosecutor, Leon Jaworksi, and released to Judge Sirica the tapes of the Watergate conversations subpoenaed by Cox. Jaworski subsequently obtained indictments and convictions against several high-ranking administration officials; one of the grand juries investigating the Watergate affair named Nixon as an un indicted co conspirator and turned its evidence over to the Judiciary Committee. 5 Responding to public pressure, in Apr.
, 1974, Nixon gave the Judiciary Committee edited transcripts of his taped conversations relating to Watergate; however, Nixon's actions failed to halt a steady erosion of confidence in his administration, and by the middle of 1974 polls indicated that a majority of the American people believed that the President was implicated in the Watergate coverup. On July 24, 1974, the Supreme Court affirmed a lower court ruling that ordered Nixon to turn over to special prosecutor Jaworski additional subpoenaed tapes relating to the coverup. Meanwhile, the House Judiciary Committee completed its investigation and adopted (July 27-30) three articles of impeachment against President Nixon; the first article, which cited the Watergate break-in, charged President Nixon with obstruction of justice. 6 Nixon's Resignation and the Aftermath On Aug. 5, Nixon made public the transcripts of three recorded conversations that were among those to be given to Jaworski. At the same time he admitted that he had been aware of the Watergate coverup shortly after the break-in occurred and that he had tried to halt the Federal Bureau of Investigation's inquiry into the break-in.
Several days later (Aug. 9) Nixon resigned and was succeeded by Gerald R. Ford. 7 President Ford issued a pardon to Nixon for any and all crimes that he might have committed while President. However, Nixon's chief associates, Haldeman, Ehrlichman, and Mitchell, were among those convicted (Jan. 1, 1975) for their role in the affair.
In addition to the governmental upheaval that resulted from the Watergate affair, the scandal provoked widespread loss of confidence in public officials and tended to foster a general suspicion of government agencies. 8.