The Watergate Scandal

Start Free Trial

What were the Watergate burglars looking for?  

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The burglars, late known collectively as CREEP (Committee to Reelect the President), broke into the Democrat offices at Watergate to wiretap the offices and look for top secret documents. It doesn't appear that they were looking for anything in particular. They just wanted something that could give them an advantage over their opponents during the forthcoming election campaign. It is worth remembering in that particular election, the country had been deeply divided by the war in Vietnam and Nixon was in means guaranteed of a second term.

Nixon was eventually reelected in a landslide victory, but his campaign was marred by accusations of foul play. A month after the burglars had entered Watergate they had broken in again to redo the wiretaps and were caught. Though Nixon denied any wrongdoing, it soon became apparent he had paid the burglars hush money. Nixon's involvement was proved beyond all doubt, two years after his reelection, when he was forced to hand over the tapes that had him talking about and organizing the burglaries.

While Nixon was pardoned by Gerald Ford, many of Nixon's aides went to federal prison for their involvement.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The Watergate building in Washington D.C. was where the Democratic National Committee had its headquarters. The Watergate burglars broke into the office to see if they could find any kind of compromising material that could be used against the Democratic Party. Some have suggested that the burglars were looking for evidence that the Democrats had been receiving secret donations from Castro's Cuba.

Whatever the initial motivation, the Watergate break-in was simply one of many illegal actions authorized by President Nixon and his staff against political opponents. Nixon was a deeply paranoid, insecure man, and he felt that everyone was out to get him. He wanted to get as much information on his perceived enemies in politics and the media as possible, and he was prepared to resort to all kinds of dirty, underhand methods to do so. The Watergate break-in may only have been a second-rate burglary, but it came to symbolize a systemic abuse of power at the very highest levels of government.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team