Watergate Scandal

On August 9, 1974, President Richard Nixon resigned the presidency of the United States, the first and only President to do so. This resulted from a break-in at the Democratic National Committee Headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington D.C.

The affair began with the arrest of 5 men for breaking into the democratic Headquarters on June 17, 1972. The FBI connected the payments to the burglars to a slush fund used by the 1972 Republican Committee to Re-elect the President. One of the men was a salaried Nixon-campaign security expert, who had also done work for the Republican National Committee.

Evidence mounted against the President’s staff, which included White House Counsel John W. Dean who implicated many high-level government officials including President Nixon, when he said he personally told the President of his efforts to keep the Watergate scandal “out of the White House” during an investigation conducted by the Senate Watergate Committee. He also said the Nixon administration kept a list of about 200 political “enemies” and he drew up a plan as to “how we can use the available Federal machinery to screw our political enemies”.

It was revealed that President Nixon had a secret tape recording system in his office and that he had recorded many conversations. Recordings from these tapes implicated the President, revealing that he had attempted to cover up the break-in.

On July 24, 1973 President Nixon was served with subpoenas from both the Senate Watergate Committee and Prosecutor Archibald Cox demanding he produce the secret tapes. Nixon rejected all the subpoenas. After a series of court battles, the U. S. Supreme Court ruled that the President had to hand over the tapes; Facing near-certain impeachment in the House of Representatives and a strong possibility of a conviction in the Senate, Nixon resigned the office of the presidency on August 9, 1974. His successor, Gerald Ford issued a pardon to President Nixon after his resignation.