BLOGGING FROM A TO Z
A 1970’s Time Capsule
NEWS AND NOTEWORTHY
Early on the morning of June 17, 1972, a crime with astronomical political fall-out is committed and five men are arrested. Their crime was breaking into the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office-hotel-apartment complex in Washington, D.C.
The political fall-out, the resignation of the President of the United States; however on the day of the arrest, the connection to Richard Millhouse Nixon was unknown. These men were caught with burglary tools, cameras and film, and three pen-size tear gas guns. At the scene of the crime, and in rooms the men rented at the Watergate, sophisticated electronic bugging equipment was found. Three of the men were Cuban exiles, one was a Cuban American, and the fifth was James W. McCord, Jr., a former CIA agent. That day, the suspects, who said they were “anti-communists,” were charged with felonious burglary and possession of implements of crime.
On June 18, however, it was revealed that James McCord was the salaried security coordinator for President Richard Nixon’s reelection committee.
The next day, E. Howard Hunt, Jr., a former White House aide, was linked to the five suspects. In July, G. Gordon Liddy, finance counsel for the Committee for the Re-election of the President, was also implicated as an accomplice.
In August, President Nixon announced that a White House investigation of the Watergate break-in had concluded that administration officials were not involved. In September, Liddy, Hunt, McCord, and the four Cubans were indicted by a federal grand jury on eight counts of breaking into and illegally bugging the Democratic National Committee headquarters. If you know anything about Watergate, you know that it did not end there.
W is also for Woodward and Berstein and Washington Post
In September and October, reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward of The Washington Post uncovered evidence of illegal political espionage carried out by the White House and the Committee for the Re-election of the President, including the existence of a secret fund kept for the purpose and the existence of political spies hired by the committee. Despite these reports, and a growing call for a Watergate investigation on Capitol Hill, Richard Nixon was reelected president in November 1972 in a landslide victory.
In January 1973, five of the Watergate burglars pleaded guilty, and two others, Liddy and McCord, were convicted. At their sentencing on March 23, U.S. District Court Judge John J. Sirica read a letter from McCord charging that the White House had conducted an extensive “cover-up” to conceal its connection with the break-in. In April, Attorney General Richard Kleindienst and two top White House advisers, H.R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman, resigned, and White House counsel John Dean was fired.
On May 17, 1973, the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities, headed by Senator Sam Ervin of North Carolina, began televised proceedings on the rapidly escalating Watergate affair.
One week later, Harvard Law professor Archibald Cox was sworn in as special Watergate prosecutor.
During the Senate hearings, former White House legal counsel John Dean testified that the Watergate break-in had been approved by former Attorney General John Mitchell with the knowledge of White House advisers Ehrlichman and Haldeman, and that President Nixon had been aware of the cover-up. Meanwhile, Watergate prosecutor Cox and his staff began to uncover widespread evidence of political espionage by the Nixon re-election committee, illegal wiretapping of thousands of citizens by the administration, and contributions to the Republican Party in return for political favors.
In July, the existence of what were to be called the Watergate tapes–official recordings of White House conversations between Nixon and his staff–was revealed during the Senate hearings. Cox subpoenaed these tapes, and after three months of delay President Nixon agreed to send summaries of the recordings. Cox rejected the summaries, and Nixon fired him. His successor as special prosecutor, Leon Jaworski, leveled indictments against several high-ranking administration officials, including Mitchell and Dean, who were duly convicted.
Public confidence in the president rapidly waned, and by the end of July 1974 the House Judiciary Committee had adopted three articles of impeachment against President Nixon: obstruction of justice, abuse of presidential powers, and hindrance of the impeachment process. On July 30, under coercion from the Supreme Court, Nixon finally released the Watergate tapes. On August 5, transcripts of the recordings were released, including a segment in which the president was heard instructing Haldeman to order the FBI to halt the Watergate investigation. Four days later, Nixon became the first president in U.S. history to resign. On September 8, his successor, President Gerald Ford, pardoned him from any criminal charges.
I can remember where I was when President Nixon resigned even though I wasn’t even a teenager yet. I was at Girl Scout Camp in New Jersey and one of counselors had us sit in the camp pavillion and listen to his resignation on the radio. I know at the time, I didn’t really understand what the Watergate Scandal was all about. Years later I enjoyed the movie All the Presidents Men.
Wish we had reporters of the caliber of Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward today. My W post is up http://atcad.blogspot.com/2016/04/winsome-wednesday-wicked-wild.html
So true but unfortunately today everything is so quick, a good reported doesn’t have the time for the In depth research. Thanks for reading.
I loved all the presidents men 🙂
Great film. I love stuff like that. John Grisham’s The Pelican Brief was like that for me.
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It’s ashamed that this had to happen. In comparison though, I think Watergate was a petty crime compared to Hillary Clinton’s mishandling of emails and who knows what through the Clinton Foundation. I see far more damage to the U.S. security and future in what the Clintons have gotten away with so far and probably will get away with in the future.
A to Z Challenge Co-host
Tossing It Out
I so remember the Watergate scandal. I was fortunate to meet Bob Woodward during the summer of 1979 while I was at Blair Academy doing an intense 5-week journalism course. He was there to address us students about his role with Carl Bernstein during the Watergate investigation. Fascinating.
Great post Maryann.
Michele at Angels Bark
Meeting Bob Woodward must have been awesome.
Watergate, across the street from the Kennedy Center
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I remember this even though I was a little kid and I remember when he left and gave the peace sign. He was one complicated man. I still have to see this movie, All the President’s Men.
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Yes very complicated. It is. A shame that all the good he did is over shadowed by this. The film is good and I like Dustin Hoffman and of course Robert Redford.