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The Infamous Watergate Scandal

“The Watergate Complex is a series of modern buildings with

balconies that looks like filed down Shark’s Teeth” (Gold, 1).

Located on the Potomac River in Washington, D.C. it contains many

hotel rooms and offices. What happened in the complex on June 17,

1972 early in the morning became a very historical event for our

nation that no one will ever forget.

The “Watergate Scandal” and constitutional crisis that began on

June 17, 1972 with the arrest of five burglars who broke into the

Democratic National Committee (DMC) headquarters at the Watergate

office building in Washington D.C. It ended with the registration of

President Richard M. Nixon on August 9, 1974. (Watergate)

At approximately 2:30 in the morning of June 17, 1972 five men

were arrested at the Watergate Complex. The police seized a walkie

talkie, 40 rolls of unexposed film, two 35 millimeter cameras, lock

picks, pensized teargas guns, and bugging devices. (Gold, 75)

These five men and two co-plotters were indicated in September

1972 on charges of burglary, conspiracy and wire tapping. Four months

later they were convicted and sentenced to prison terms by District

Court Judge John J. Sercia was convinced that relevant details had

not been unveiled during the trial and offered leniency in exchanged

for further information. As it became increasingly evident that the

Watergate burglars were tied closely to the Central Intelligence

Agency and the Committee to re-elect the president. (Watergate)

Four of these men, that were arrested on the morning of June 17, 1972,

came from Miami, Florida. They were Bernard L. Barker, Frank A.

Sturgis, Virgillio R. Gonzalez, and Eugenio R. Martinez. The other

man was from Rockville, Maryland named James W. McCord, Jr. The two

co-plotters were G. Gordon Liddy and E. Howard Hunt. (Watergate)

The senate established and investigative committee headed by

Senate Sam Ervin, Jr., to look into the growing scandal. As they were

investigating, they related that the famous break-in was far more

involved than what everyone had expected. (Watergate) The White Houses

involvement of that morning first became evident when James McCord

wrote a letter to Judge Sirca. In this letter McCord explained that

he wanted to disclose the details of Watergate. He made it apparent

that he would not speak to a Justice department official of an FBI

agent. Although his letter did unveil details, it made server

chargers. McCord justified that “Political pressure” (Westerfled 36)

had generated many defendants to plead guilty and remain silent. He

also claimed that there had been whiteness at the trail who had

committed perjury in order to protect the people who headed the

brake-in. McCord declared that he, his family, and his friend may be

in danger if he spoke out. (Westerfled 36-37)

The Senate Watergate Committee saw their chance to unravel the

mystery of this scandal. The offered James McCord a chance to speak

publicly. In his first meeting with representatives of this committee

he named two more people that he claimed were involved in the burglary

and cover-up. Theses two men were John Dean and Jeb Margruder.

Margruder was the second-in-charge of the CRP and Dean was a White

House aid. After hearing these substantial accusations the Senate

Watergate Committee promptly subpoenaed John Dean and Jeb Margruder.

(Westerfled 37-38).

After the next session with James McCord he took the whiteness

stand and explained how Liddy had promised him an executive pardon if

he would plead guilty. This began to question the a White House

involvement since only the president could present such a pardon.

(Westerfled, 40) Jeb Margruder was the next witness to testify. He

admitted his own perjury to the Grand Jury and verified what McCord

had said. While on the stand he also revealed another name to add to

the list of those involved, John Mitchell. (Gold, 246-247)

The next witness scheduled to appear was John Dean. In Dean’s

testimony he exposed that the Watergate burglary had been only a part

of a greater abuse of power. He said that for four years the White

House had used the powers of the presidency to attack political

enemies. They spied on and harassed anyone who did not agree with

Nixon’s policies. If a reporter wrote stories criticizing the White

House they would be singled out for tax investigations. The White

House also kept an “Enemies List” (Westerfled 43) of people that the

presidents men wanted revenge on. After being fired, dean kept

official documents that supported his statements. (Westerfled 43-44;

Gold 309-330)

John Dean said, is his opening statements, that he had discussed

the cover-up with president Nixon in several meetings. At the first

meeting, in September 1972, he told the president how he and other

members of the White House had handled the cover-up so far. Dean

claimed that in another important meeting with Nixon, on March 21,

1973, the president agreed $1 million should be raised to silence the

burgalers. However Dean said that he dealt with the president mostly

through H.R. Haldman and John Ehrlichman. (Gold 266-308; Westerfled


Dean faced the committee for four days of Questioning, after his

opening statement. During these four days the republicans focused on

what happened in these meetings between Dean and the president, which

was the only evidence the president. The question that Senator baker

asked and was being wondered throughout the nation was, what did the

president know and when did he know it? (Westerfled, 43) The Nixon

administration tackled Dean’s reports of the two meetings. They

claimed that the March 21, 1973 meeting was the first Nixon had heard

of the cover-ups. The White House’s version was they the president

had rejected the burglars’ blackmail. (Hearings 02)

For the first time in this intriguing scandal the president

himself had been accused. This was the greatest blow the Nixon White

House had sustained. “polls showed that 70 percent of TV viewers

believed Deans version of the event” (Westerfled, 43). But who was to

be believed? It was John Deans Word against Richard Nixon’s. (Gold

669-670; Westerfled, 43) The committee then made a shocking discovery,

only a few weeks after Deans testimony. As the committee was managing

a routine aid, they asked him how the White House administration came

up with their version of what happened in the meeting s of Dena and

Nixon. His response was that the meetings had probably been recorded

on tape. (Westerfled 43)

Alexander Butterflied explained that the White House had been

equipped with a recording system. They were installed in his two

offices, the Oval Room “The taping device was spring load to a voice

actuation situation.” (Gold 436) In Alexander Butterfields testimony

he said that the recording system was installed to help preserve all

documents. The only people who knew of these recording devices were

the president, Haledman, Kigbe, Butterfield, and the secret service

people. (Gold 434-442)

Now the committee had stumbled across exactly what they were

looking for, a way to prove the presidents innocence of guilt. The

tapes of the meeting s between Dean and Nixon were lying some where in

the White House. These tapes would show which of these men were lying

and if the president of the united States had been involved in a

criminal conspiracy. Although when the senate asked him for the tapes

the President refused, but why?

On July 17, 1973 the Senate Committee went directly to the

president about their request. To view the rest of this essay you must be a

screwschool member


Gold, Gerald ed. Watergate hearings. New York: Bantam books, 1978.

Westerfled, Scott. Watergate. Englewood Cliffs: Silber Burdett,


“Watergate”. Grolier Electronic Publishing. 1992.

The New grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia. Danbury, CT: Grolier

Electronic Publising Inc., 1993.

Microsoft Encarta. Microsoft Corporation: Funk & Wagnalls

Corporation, 1993.

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