The 1972 events at the Watergate, first perceived as a simple break-in, soon expanded into a much larger scandal that engulfed the Nixon administration and led to the president's resignation. AP/WIDE WORLD PHOTOS. REPRODUCED BY PERMISSION.
Introduction“I am not a crook,” President Richard Nixon famously said, but some of the people working for his campaign certainly were. Watergate is the name for the hotel and office complex in Washington, D.C., where the Democratic National Committee (DNC) had a campaign office. In 1972, five men broke into the DNC office in order to spy on Democratic campaigns. They were caught in the act, and a scandal developed immediately. Investigations revealed that the Nixon administration had a history of using subversive tactics against its opponents, and Nixon himself was involved in the Watergate cover-up. By the time the scandal was over, Nixon had lost his presidency and his reputation. Many historians argue that Watergate made an entire generation skeptical about the American political process.
- Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein were journalists for the Washington Post who worked tirelessly to reveal the conspiracy behind Watergate. They had an informant who was nicknamed “Deep Throat.”
- President Nixon taped almost every conversation, phone call, and meeting that went on in the Oval Office. When those tapes were subpoenaed, several crucial minutes had been erased, making it impossible to categorically prove Nixon’s knowledge of the break-in plan.
- The investigation into Watergate led to the “Saturday Night Massacre.” Nixon forced two aides to resign when they refused to fire special council Archibald Cox, who had been appointed to lead the investigation into Watergate.
- Nixon was faced with impeachment by Congress but chose to resign rather than face public trial. By resigning, Nixon was able to avoid admitting guilt for the Watergate break-in. He was pardoned by his successor, Gerald Ford.
- Watergate had such an impact on American popular culture that modern scandals often have the suffix “-gate” added to them.
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