In the summer of 1972, 5 burglars broke into the Watergate hotel where the democratic convention was being held. The burglars were eventually captured and arrested, but one of the burglars implicated then President of the United States of America, Richard Nixon, in the planning of the break-in. After weeks of subpoenas from congress, demanding tapes that were used to record the activities in the White House. It was then that Richard Nixon would irrevocably change America’s future by doing something that every president had done before him, he would use executive privilege to block the investigation into the White House’s role into the Watergate break-in. By invoking executive privilege, Richard Nixon proved his guilt and permanently changed how Americans viewed the president’s use of executive privilege.
Of course, this was not the first time executive privilege had been invoked. In 1776, George Washington used an offshoot version of executive privilege to withhold documents relating to a failed military expedition. Although Washington did hand over the documents to Congress, it would be forever noted that this would be the first example of executive privilege. Despite not actually using it, it is still seen as the first use of executive privilege in American history.
In the beginning, it is assumed from George Washington’s letter to Congress regarding executive privilege that he intended executive privilege to be used for America’s well-being and not for personal gain. Despite popular opinion, most presidents have followed this rule. Sometimes we can’t know what was being withheld, but since there is really no public outcry when a president uses it in matters that George Washington used it in, it generally happens without the public being drawn into it. Although, when a president uses executive privilege the way Richard Nixon did, that’s when the public becomes a dominating factor.
At the time, the public felt like they couldn’t be more betrayed by the government. In all actuality, it wasn’t the government that they should have been mad at. Who they should have been mad at, is the man who actually betrayed the American people, Richard Nixon. Even though time has passed,...