Nixon and Watergate

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Learning objectives

  • Explain the key reasons for the Watergate Scandal and its key features
  • Explain its impact on Nixon, US politics and the new laws
  • Explain why President Ford pardoned them

Key words

  • CRP – Committee for Re-election of the President
  • Enemies List
  • Saturday Night Massacre

Key names in the White House

  • Richard Nixon, president 1969-74
  • Bob Haldeman, White House Chief of Staff
  • John Ehrlichman, the White House Assistant for Domestic Affairs and Head of the White House Plumbers
  • John Mitchell, former Attorney General, Director of CRP
  • John Dean, White House Lawyer

Those who planned the burglary

  • E. Howard Hunt, White House Plumber and member of CRP, previously CIA
  • G. Gordon Liddy, White House Plumber and member of CRP, previously FBI

The Burglars

  • James McCord, Campaign Co-ordinator of CRP, former FBI and CIA agent
  • 4 others!


  • Bob Woodward
  • Carl Bernstein

Watergate 2

  • 1971
    • Nixon sets up the plumbers in response to the Pentagon Papers leaked by Daniel Ellsberg.
  • 1972
    • 17th June – 5 people arrested for Watergate break-in
    • 19th June – Washington Post reports links between Watergate burglars and CRP. John Mitchell denies this.
    • 1st August – Washington Post reports that cheque is given to CRP was paid to one of the Watergate burglars
    • 30th August – Nixon announces that John Dean has investigated and found that no one from the White House were involved
    • 15th September – the five burglars along with Hunt and Liddy are charged with conspiracy, burglary and wiretapping
    • 11 November – Nixon is re-elected
  • 1973
    • 8-30 January – Trial
    • 7 Feb – Senate creates Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities
    • 19th March – James McCord writes to trial judge claiming that the White House staff had told them to lie during the trial
    • 23 April – Nixon denies advance knowledge
    • April 30th 1973 – Nixon requested resignations of Bob Haldeman, White House Chief of Staff; and John Ehrlichman, the White House Assistant for Domestic Affairs and Head of the White House Plumbers.  In a televised address he tells the nation – ‘there can be no whitewash at the White House’.
    • 17 May – Select Committee hearings begin – they are broadcast on Television
    • 25 June – John Dean testifies and says Nixon was involved in cover-up within days
    • 7 July – Nixon says he won’t testify or grant access to files
    • 16 July – White House Taping System is revealed
    • 23 July – Senate Committee demands tapes
    • 25 July – Nixon refuses to hand them over
    • 9 August – Senate Committee begins a law suit against Nixon
    • 23 October – Nixon hands over some edited transcripts
    • 17th November – During an hour long televised address to 400 Associated Press managing editors, Nixon declared that he had not profited from public service. “I have earned every cent. And in all of my years in public life I have never obstructed justice.”  “People have got to know whether or not their President is a crook. Well, I’m not a crook. I’ve earned everything I’ve got.”
    • 21 November – 20 minute gap in conversation between Nixon and Haldeman from 20 June 1972 is discovered
  • 1974
    • 6th February – House of Representatives allows investigation into whether Nixon can be impeached
    • 24th July – Supreme Court orders tapes to be handed over
    • 27th-30th – investigation decides Nixon can be impeached
    • 5th August – Final tapes are released; 23rd June 1972 tape provides the ‘smoking gun’
    • 9th August – Nixon resigns, Gerald Ford becomes president
    • September – Ford pardoned Nixon for any crimes he may have committed; and spared him, and the country, a criminal trial.

Introduction to Watergate
Detailed account of the events:

Clips from speeches 

There can be no whitewash – 30th April 1973

‘I’m no crook’ – 17th November 1973

Resignation – televised address – August 8th 1974

Farewell to White House Staff – August 9th 1974

Debate about Nixon’s presidency – the good, the bad and the ugly

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