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Watergate Essay

943 words - 4 pages

WATERGATEMR. SPENCERU.S. HISTORYPERIOD 4BY TODD THOMPSONFEBRUARY 19, 1998Watergate was the name of the biggest political scandal in the United States history. It included various illegal activities designed to help President Richard M. Nixon win reelection in 1972. Watergate resulted in Nixon's resignation from the presidency in 1974.Watergate differed from most previous political scandals because personal greed apparently did not play an important role. Instead, Watergate represented an attack on one of the chief features of a democracy, free and open elections.The Watergate activities included burglary, wiretapping, violations of campaign financing laws, and sabotage and the attempted use of government agencies to harm political opponents. The scandal also involved a cover-up of many of those actions. About forty people were charged with the crimes in this scandal and with related crimes. Most of these people were convicted by juries or pleaded guilty.Watergate involved more high level government officials than any previous political scandal. It led to the conviction on criminal charges in 1975 of former Attorney General John N. Mitchell and two of Nixon's top aides, John D. Ehrlichman and H.R. Haldeman. Also in 1975, former Secretary of Commerce Maurice H. Stans, a leader of Nixon's reelection campaign pleaded guilty to Watergate criminal charges and was fined $5,000. Watergate also had resulted in the resignation of Attorney General Richard G. Kleindienst in 1973.Watergate arose from a break-in at the Democratic Party headquarters in the Watergate building complex in Washington, D. C., on June 17, 1972. Employees of Nixon's 1972 reelection committee were arrested in the break-in and convicted of burglary. Early in 1973 evidence was uncovered that linked several top White House aides with either the break-in or later attempts to hide information related to it.Nixon insisted that he did not participate in the break-in or the cover-up. In May, Archibald Cox, a Harvard Law School Professor, was named to head the investigation as the special prosecutor.In July, a Senate investigation committee learned that Nixon had secretly made tape recordings of conversations in his White House offices since 1971. The President said that he taped the conversations to preserve an accurate record of his administration. Cox and the Senate committee asked Nixon to give them certain tapes that they believed could aid their investigations. Nixon refused. He argued that the Constitution gives a President the implied right to maintain the confidentiality of private presidential conversations. Nixon said the loss of the right would endanger the presidency.In August, Cox and the committee filed petitions in court to obtain the tapes. U.S. District Court Judge John J. Sirica decided to review the tapes himself and ordered Nixon to give them to him. Nixon appealed the order, but a U.S. Court of Appeals supported Sirica.On October 19, Nixon...

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