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The Watergate Affair Early in 1972, Nixon's team proposed to tap the telephones of the Democratic National Committee

in the Watergate apartment complex in Washington, D.C. The attempt failed. When the burglars, carrying money and documents that could ultimately be traced to The White House, were arrested, the administration decided to cover up its involvement. Six days after the discovery of the break-in, Nixon told the Central Intelligence Agency to order the Federal Bureau of Investigation to cease its investigation on the grounds that national security was at stake. In fact, the break-in was just one aspect of a campaign to locate and destroy people whom the administration considered its "enemies." These activities involved illegal wiretapping, break-ins and fundraising. Although Nixon was overwhelmingly re-elected that year, the press, particularly the Washington Post, continued to investigate. As the scandal unfolded, the Democratic majority in the Congress instituted impeachment proceedings against Nixon. As the evidence of his involvement began to mount, he resigned on August 9, 1974. Gerald Ford, an unpretentious man who had spent most of his public life in Congress, became Nixon's vice president following the resignation of the previous vice president, Spiro T. Agnew, after it had been revealed that he had accepted bribes, both before and during his term as vice president. Twenty months later, upon Nixon's resignation, Ford became president. His first priority was to restore trust in the government, which had been shaken by impeachment proceedings aimed at removing Nixon from office. Initially Ford enjoyed a great deal of confidence, but it quickly eroded when he pardoned Nixon and thus headed off any possible prosecution in the future. On the night of June 17, 1972, police in Washington arrested five burglars. They caught the burglars inside the Democratic Party's national headquarters in the Watergate office building. Journalists from the Washington Post newspaper started to look into the burglary. They discovered that the burglars had been paid to steal information to discredit President Nixon's Democratic opponents. In February 1973, the Senate set up a committee to look into the Watergate affair. Its meetings were broadcast live on

television. Day by day, viewers watched the committee uncover a network of lies and dishonesty at the very heart of the nation's government. Nixon vowed time and time again that he had known nothing about the Watergate break-in. But as the investigations went on, fewer and fewer people believed him. Many began to demand that he be impeached for misusing his powers as President. The end came in August 1974. A tape recording made in Nixon's office proved that he had known all about the Watergate affair. His impeachment and even imprisonment now seemed certain. To avoid this, Nixon resigned as President of the United States part way through his term in office the first man ever to do so. Too many people, at home and abroad, the Watergate affair seemed to clearly show that the American political system had gone rotten. But it was parts of that very system-the newspapers, the law-courts, the Congress - which brought the misdeeds of the President and his advisers to light. They showed that not even the highest in the land was above the law. Ironically, it was Nixon himself who perhaps best summed up this aspect of the Watergate affair. Shortly before his resignation he said: "Some people will say that Watergate demonstrates the bankruptcy of the American system. I believe precisely the opposite is true. Watergate represented a series of illegal acts. It was the system that brought these facts to life and that will bring those guilty to justice." Meanwhile, Nixon's credibility was strained to the breaking point over a scandal known as "Watergate." The scandal began with news stories about Nixon's reelection campaign and soon became a crisis involving the highest officials in the land. On June 17, 1972, just before the election, five men were arrested for breaking into the Democratic National Committee Headquarters. The break-in was discovered by the night guard at the Watergate building in Washington, D. , where the Democratic headquarters was located. Shortly after the break-in, links were established between the burglars and White House Consultant E. Howard Hunt, Jr. Links were also established to G. Gordon Liddy, the counsel for the Committee to Reelect the President (CRP). This evidence seemed to show that the burglars had been working for CRP, or CREEP, as it became known. CRP's chairman, John Mitchell, who had left his post as Attorney

General to head Nixon's campaign, denied this. The White House minimized the incident as a "third-rate burglary." However, two Washington Post reporters, Robert Woodward and Carl Bernstein, refused to believe these and began digging into the story. They revealed that unethical and illegal means had been used by the Republicans to raise money for Nixon's campaign and to sabotage Democratic operations. The burglary and other revelations had little impact on the election. However, in January 1973 the five burglars plus Hunt and Liddythe Watergate Sevenwent on trial. Judge John J. Sirica presided. Five of the defendants pleaded guilty, and two were convicted by a jury. When Sirica was passing sentence, he read aloud a letter from James W. McCord. McCord was one of the defendants and former chief of security for CRP. The letter said that the defendants were not the only ones involved in the breakin. It stated further that they had been pressured into pleading guilty, and that certain people had committed perjury during the course of the trial. Meanwhile, in early February the Senate had established a committee headed by Senator Sam Ervin of North Carolina to investigate corruption in the 1972 election. While this investigation was going on, John Dean, the President's counsel, and Jeb Stuart Magruder, CRP's deputy director, followed McCord's example and turned state's evidence. That is, they gave testimony against others involved in the break-in. On April 30, Nixon fired Dean and announced the resignations of Haldeman and Erlichman. A month later, Nixon finally admitted that a cover-up had taken place, but he denied knowledge of it. Just before he made this statement, the Ervin Committee began televised hearings that brought the Watergate scandal to the public's eye. In June, testifying before the committee, Magruder confessed to committing perjury before the grand jury in the trial of the Watergate Seven. He also implicated Mitchell in planning the break-in. Executive Clemency At the end of the month, Dean testified that Nixon had known about the break-in since it happened and had offered executive clemency (a lessening of punishment by order of the President) to the attendants. Dean implicated Haldeman and Ehrlich man in the cover-up as well. He told the committee about a White House "Enemies List," containing names of opponents for potential harassment.

Dean also told the committee about the "plumbers." This was a special investigation unit that was intended to stop "leaks" by using electronic surveillance, mail interception, and other illegal practices all in the name of national security. This "plumbers" unit was set up after the affair of the socalled "Pentagon Papers," a series of articles published in the New York Times beginning in June 1971. Dr. Daniel Eusberg, a Defense Department aide, had leaked a top-secret study of the Vietnam War to the Times. Eusberg was charged with stealing government property and violating the Espionage Act. These charges were dropped in the midst of Watergate when the court learned that there had been a wiretap placed on Ellsberg's telephone. The court had learned earlier that Hunt and Liddy, two of the "plumbers," had broken into the office of Ellsberg's former psychiatrist, hoping to find something they could use against Ellsberg. The Watergate hearings led to criminal charges against several heads of the administration at the White House. Under pressure from the public, Nixon finally turned over some of the tapes in question. However, there was an 18-minute gap on one of them that experts later determined had been erased.

After Reading Questions: 1. How did the scandal known as the Watergate Affaire begin?

2. When did it happen?

3. Why was this time so famous for America?

4. Who was interested to break-in in Watergate apartment complex in Washington, DC?

5. What kinds of activities were involved in break-in?

6. Was the stolen information to discredit President Nixon's democratic opponents or himself?

7. What organizations were involved in investigating of this affair?

8. How was the attempt made?

9. Was it successful?

10. Who took part in it?

11. Were the burglars paid?

12. Who was arrested?

13. When did the Senate set up a committee to look into the Watergate affair?

14. Was it broadcasted over the television?

15. Why did the journalists on the Washington Post newspaper start to look into the burglary?

16. What was the attitude of Americans to President Nixon?

17. Nixon was overwhelmingly re-elected, wasnt he?

18. Did the Washington Post continue to investigate the Watergate scandal?

19. What did the journalist write?

20. What was the meaning of the Watergate Affair for the life of Americans and for the whole world?