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I think that many figures can be identified, but why not go for the most important one in the President, himself? Richard Nixon has to be seen as one of the most important figures in the Watergate Affair. Even if one could concede that there was no incontrovertible evidence that stated that Nixon authorized the break- in at the Democratic Headquarters, it was painfully clear that the President authorized the cover- up and the concealment from the public as to what happened. Nixon's own mentality that fostered repression, silencing of dissent, as well as a "law and order" belief that erred on the side of repressing individual rights are all direct actions that marked Nixon's tenure as President. These all filtered into the Watergate Break In, ensuring that the Affair was a direct and logical extension of President Nixon's belief system. President Nixon's direct action of enabling the break- in and then directly engaging in the cover- up of it are actions that are linked to Watergate. Certainly, the President, himself, did not break inot the headquarters. Yet, the action smacked of what the President had permitted under his leadership and the cover- up and seek to evade responsibility from it are his actions and what can be directly linked to the affair, in general.
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