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President Nixon and Watergate
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, many in America held to a negative view of the government, especially toward the actions in Vietnam. Many were frustrated with the war’s length and the devastation it had caused. Lyndon Johnson even refused to run again in 1968, partially due to the unpopularity of the Vietnam War. Richard Nixon inherited the conflict and also had to deal with the negative view of government present in the American culture of the era.
The main issue of the Watergate scandal was a break in that occurred at the Democratic National Committee headquarters (DNC). The headquarters was in a building complex called “Watergate” in Washington D.C. Nixon suffered from massive paranoia. He felt that there was a “liberal” conspiracy against him and his presidential policies. Nixon was allowing men in his administration to illegally wiretap various people to try and get information on this so called conspiracy. Nixon, a Republican, entrusted himself to a few close advisors. H.R. Haldeman (Chief of Staff), John Ehrlichman (Domestic Advisor), John Deal (Presidential Counsel), and John Mitchell (Attorney General) were some of his closest consultants. Nixon was frustrated with the various negotiations that were needed to deal with the Congress that was dominated by Democrats. He wanted to get the upper hand on their plans. He allowed mean to break the law by illegally attempting to spy on those Nixon believed were in the conspiracy against him.
Since the 1960s, Nixon possessed massive paranoia toward his political rivals, due to losing to JFK. Nixon was frantic to make sure he stayed ahead politically. In June of 1972, five men were caught breaking in to the Democratic National Committee headquarters. These men were trying to copy files and plant “bugs” that could record future conversations in the office. James McCord, one of the intruders, was a former CIA agent and helped with the Committee to Reelect the President (CRP). H.R. Haldeman and others began to destroy documents that linked Nixon to the break in.
The Committee to Reelect the President (CRP) illegally used campaign money to pay the intruders to keep them quiet about asserting Nixon knew of their tactics. The Washington Post followed the story. Two reporters, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, covered the events. Despite the story, Nixon won the 1972 Election and defeated Democrat, George S. McGovern. A Senate investigation commenced. Nixon tried to fire Haldeman and claimed the Watergate intruders acted outside of his orders. Nixon then went on television and denied that he knew about the break in. John Dean admitted the president knew of the break in at Watergate. He also confessed that Nixon had conversations with him about how to cover up the scandal. Afterward, it was revealed that the paranoid President had taped various meetings on various matters, including his illegal political strategies. In what was called the Saturday Night Massacre, Nixon was ordered to give up the tapes by the Supreme Court, but he refused. Congress began to consider impeaching Nixon.
In 1974, Nixon said he would release the tapes, if they could be edited; the Supreme Court ruled they had to be released without editing. On August 8th, 1974, before Congress could impeach him, Nixon resigned as President. Gerald Ford, Nixon’s Vice President, became President of the USA. Many went to jail over Watergate and other scandals affiliated with the Nixon administration. Yet, Ford pardoned Nixon of all crimes. Ford said a trial of the President would just damage the nation more and that he wanted to end the Watergate scandal once and for all so the nation could move on.