Nixon & Watergate

"I can say categorically that . . . no one on the White House staff, no one in this
 administration, presently employed, was involved in this very bizarre incident.
 What really hurts in matters of this sort is not the fact that they occur, because
 overzealous people in campaigns do things that are wrong. What really hurts is
 if you try to cover it up."

"People have got to know whether or not their President is a crook. Well, I'm not
 a crook. I've earned everything I've got."



   I. Prelude & break-in
       A. Secret "plumbers" to plug White House leaks
            1. "Pentagon Papers" of Daniel Ellsburg, et al. (1971)
                  • New York Times, Boston Globe, Wash'ton Post
                  • gov't deceit about Vietnam (Truman thru LBJ)
                  • Nixon unhurt, but other gov't secrets existed
                  • fueled already sizable anti-Vietnam sentiment
            2. E. Howard Hunt (ex-CIA) & G. Gordon Liddy (ex-FBI)
                  • tried to discredit Ellsburg via psychiatrist's files
                  • overzealous protection of "nat'l security"
                  • expanded into mechanism for Nixon's reelection
       B. Break-in at Watergate complex (2:30 am, June 17)
            1. James McCord & 4 others associated w/ CREEP
            2. Democratic Nat'l Committee office on 6th floor
            3. Objective = obtain files & plant listening devices
            4. Address book in hotel room revealed key names
  II. Cover-up & exposure
       A. Immediate cover-up by White House = opéra gaffe
            1. Nixon: "third-rate burglary" & "bizarre incident"
            2. FBI blocked; aides urged to lie; more extreme acts
            3. No real public outcry/connection to White House
       B. Election of 1972 not impacted
            1. No connection yet between White House & Watergate
            2. Sept '72 Gallup poll: 50% public unaware of break-in
            3. Liberal Sen. George McGovern (S. Dak.)
            4. Democratic Party w/o leader or too many
            5. Twenty-sixth Amendment (21 to 18 voter age)
       C. "Once the toothpaste is out of the tube...."
            1. Washington Post
                  • reporters Bob Woodward & Carl Bernstein
                  • secret source ("Deep Throat" after porno film)
                  • John Mitchell controlled campaign "slush fund"
                  • All The President's Men (book & movie)
            2. Watergate trial & Senate committee (Jan & May 1973)
                  • John Sirica = Time "Man of the Year"
                  • Sam Ervin (N. Car.) & Lowell Weicker (Conn.)
                  • damning testimonies of McCord & John Dean
                  • Mitchell "overall boss" & Nixon covered-up
                  • "enemies list" inc. Cosby, Namath, Newman
            3. Oval Office tapes
                  • confirmed by Alex Butterfield (July 1973)
                  • 9 tapes subpoenaed, then 64 more
                  • "Saturday night massacre" (Oct 1973)
                  • 18½-minute erasure by Rose Mary Woods (?)
                  • Nixon balked citing "executive privilege"
                  • submitted 1,200+ pages of edited transcripts
                  • U.S. v. Nixon forced surrender of tapes (July 1974)
                  • 6/23/72 H. R. Haldeman tape = "smoking gun"
                  • zapped Republican support in Congress
       D. Resignation of V-P Spiro Agnew (Oct 1973)
            1. Unrelated to Watergate
            2. Bribes & income tax evasion as governor & V-P
            3. Labeled "morally obtuse" by Maryland Bar Assoc.
            4. Agnew: victim of heightened "political morality"
            5. 2nd V-P to resign (Calhoun under Jackson)
            6. House minor leader Gerald Ford (Mich.) new V-P
                  • 1st non-elected V-P under 25th Amendment
                  • V-P remained vacant 17 times in history
                  • wide congressional approval except blacks
            7. Nixon guilty of tax evasion & misuse of funds


 III. Resignation & legacy
       A. "Ding, dong, the witch is dead...." (9:00 pm, Aug 8)
            1. House Judiciary OKs impeachment 27-11 (July 1974)
                  • obstruction of justice, inc. perjury
                  • abuse of presidential powers
                  • contempt of Congress, inc. defying subpoenas
            2. 1st-ever TIME editorial = Nixon should resign
            3. Ford: "Our long nat'l nightmare is over"
            4. Nelson Rockefeller (New York) new V-P
            5. Nixon granted "full, free and absolute pardon"
                  • no other conspirators (40+) were so lucky
                  • Ford's popularity plummeted
                  • greatly aided Jimmy Carter in 1976 election
       B. Aftermath = nation survived crucial challenge
            1. Demonstrated vitality of democratic society
            2. Good system can be tested by flawed character
            3. Gen'l shift from conservative to liberal ranks
            4. Public acutely distrustful of politicians
            5. Nixon's legacy revived as foreign policy expert
            6. Laws reflected desire to limit executive power
                  • War Powers Act (1973)
                  • Freedom of Information Act (1976)
            7. Lasting images
                  • "Deep Throat" mystery until W. Mark Felt (2005)
                  • Nixon: "I'm not a crook"
                  • Newsweek tape recorder/White House cover
                  • tapes studded w/ "expletive deleted" phrase
       C. Three widely corrupt presidential administrations
            1. Grant (Whiskey Ring +) & Harding (Teapot Dome +)
                  • no presidential participation
                  • ultimate motive was $
            2. Nixon (Watergate +)
                  • Nixon heavily involved
                  • lust for political power
            3. Ironies of Watergate
                  • break-in needless because reelection certain
                  • taping was Nixon's idea of recording history