The event that touched off the Watergate scandal happened in June of 1972. What happened here was that some men broke into the Democratic Party headquarters in the Watergate complex of offices in Washington DC. They were there to try to tap the Democrats' phones.
The White House reaction to this was to try to cover up what had happened. They did this even though there is no evidence that President Nixon had anything to do with ordering the break-in. When Nixon ordered a cover up, he broke the law. That is why he ended up having to resign.
Watergate was one of the biggest ever political scandals in United States. It included various illegal activities that helped President Richard Nixon in presidential election of 1972. This scandal was particularly serious because it represented attack on free and open elections, which is one of the main supporting pillar of a democracy.
The illegal acts of Watergate scandal involved burglary, telephone tapping, violations of campaign financing laws, use of government agencies to harm political opponents. About 40 people were charged with various crimes associated with this scandals, and most of these were convicted. It also resulted in resignation of Nixon from presidency in 1974.
The scandal derived its name from the Watergate complex of flats and office buildings in Washington,where police arrested five men for breaking into the Democratic Party's national headquarters there. Later press found evidence of White House aides helping to finance sabotage and spying operations against candidates for the 1972 Democratic presidential nomination.
Nixon claimed that he had no part in Watergate break-in or covering it up. But the enquiry by a special prosecutor appointed for the purpose, clearly established involvement of may people closely associated with Nixon. In April 1974, Nixon was served with a subpoena (legal order) to furnish certain information relating to this scandal. When Nixon disputed the right of the enquiry proceeds to ask for such information the case was referred to Supreme Cour which ordered Nixon to provide the materials.
In light of the Watergate scandal experience, in 1974, Congress approved reforms in the financing of federal election campaigns.