Richard Nixon: The Watergate Scandal
Between the years of 1972 and 1974, there was a web of political scandals; these were called the “Watergate Scandal”. The word itself “watergate” refers to the Watergate Hotel in Washington D.C. Today this word is used to refer to bribery, extortion, conspiracy, obstruction of justice use of political money for private purposes, and illegal use of government agencies, such as the FBI and CIA.The definition of abuse of power is the commission of an unlawful act, done in an official capacity, which affects the performance of official duties.
More recently former senator Bob Dole stayed at the Watergate Hotel. Watergate was once where Monica Lewinsky laid low during the duration President Bill Clinton’s impeachment in 1999, which left the media in an uproar. It was also here that the Watergate Burglars broke into the Democratic Party’s National Committee offices on June 17, 1972. If it had not been for the alert actions of Frank Wills, a security guard, the scandal may never have erupted. Years later, one of the burglars, Eugenio Martinez, wrote about Mission Impossible.
Pertaining to the Watergate Burglary, there were five accomplices. The key player in all of this was James W. McCord, a security coordinator for the Republic and National Re-election of the President Committees. McCord was a former CIA and FBI agent. Having a government occupation, he was familiar in terms of the Presidential office. After retiring from the CIA, McCord operated his own security firm called McCord Associates. Another burglar is Virgilio R. Gonzalez, a locksmith from Miami, Florida. Gonzalez was a refugee from Cuba, following Fidel Castro’s takeover. Another aid in this was Frank A. Sturgis, a man from Miami whom also had CIA connections and involvement in anti-Castro activities alongside Gonzalez. The fourth partner, Eugenio R. Martinez, worked with Miami Real Estate and also had CIA connections. Martinez was exiled from Cuba due to an anti-Castro campaign incident. The final colleague was a man named Bernard L. Barker, a realtor from Miami, Florida. Barker was a CIA operative and was said to have been involved in the Bay of Pigs incident, which was a failed military invasion of Cuba undertaken by the CIA-sponsored paramilitary group Brigade 2506 in 1962. The five men were arrested before taking any action.
On June 17th, 1972 at 1:47am, Frank Wills, a Watergate security guard who had only been there one year prior, was making his nightly rounds when he discovered a piece of adhesive tape covering the latch on a door between the basement stairwell and the parking garage. Wills originally suspected that the cleaning crew had taped over the latch to prevent from it locking. Since the crew had left a while earlier, Wills removed the tape and carried on with his duties. The head of the burglary, James W. McCord had noticed the tape missing and didn’t think twice about it being removed and simply replaced the tape. Wills made another round approximately eight minutes later, to find that the tape had appeared again. Wills urgently called Washington D.C. Police to Watergate office complex. They found five men wearing surgical gloves and carrying bugging equipment in the office of the Democratic Party’s National Committee. If Wills had not performed his security guard duties diligently, there probably would not have been a Watergate scandal.
Wills received recognition for his efforts. He received awards from the Democratic Party and Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He played himself in the movie “All the President’s Men” starring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman which was written by Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. For a while, he was sought after by the Washington press corps. His agent was attorney Dorsey Evans. Reporters were charged as much as $300 for interviews, some paid. Plans were made for him to lecture but were abandoned as his 15 minutes of fame faded.
Richard Milhous Nixon was born January 9, 1913, in Yorba Linda, California. His parents owned a small grocery store in Whittier, California. His father also owned a small lemon farm in their hometown. Nixon had four brothers; Harold Nixon being the oldest, Donald Nixon who was born one year after Richard, Arthur Nixon, and then the youngest, Edward Nixon. Two of the brothers passed away while Richard was at a young age. One of his younger brothers, Arthur Nixon who was born May 28, 1918, had died of Tuberculosis on August 10, 1925. Harold Nixon, a great influence on Richard, born June 1, 1909, died of the same cause on March 7, 1933.
Nixon graduated high school second in his class and was offered a scholarship to Harvard. Instead of Harvard, Nixon attended local Whittier College. Upon graduation from Whittier in 1934, Nixon received a full scholarship to Duke University Law School in Durham, N.C. After graduation, Nixon returned to the town of Whittier to practice law at Kroop & Bewley. A career as a small-town lawyer was not enough for a man with Nixon’s ambition, so in August 1942, he and his wife moved to Washington, D.C.
He soon became disappointed with the New Deal’s big-government programs and bureaucratic red tape, and left the public service realm for the U.S. Navy. Serving as an aviation ground officer in the Pacific, Nixon saw no combat, but he returned to the United States with two service stars and several commendations. He eventually rose to the rank of lieutenant commander before resigning his commission in January 1946.
After returning from the war, Nixon decided to run for congress. Nixon ran against five-term liberal Democrat, Jerry Voorhis, Nixon took this challenge head-on. Nixon’s campaign exploited conception about Voorhis’ being an alleged communist sympathizer, a tactic that would recur throughout his political life. It worked, helping Nixon win a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in November 1946. He was a member from 1948 to 1950
In 1960 Nixon ran against Massachusetts Senator, John F. Kennedy. Nixon narrowly lost to the young John F. Kennedy in the closest election ever in U.S. History. Nixon decided to run again in 1969 against Hubert Humphrey and independent candidate George Wallace. Nixon won that election by nearly 500,000 votes. Nixon was sworn in as the 37th president of the United States on January 20, 1969.
As one of the many results of Watergate, on August 9, 1974, President Richard M. Nixon decided to resign from office due to being heavily accused of continuing series of revelations about the Watergate scandal. The scandal escalated, costing Nixon most of his political support. Nixon believed this was a better alternative than being impeached and removed from office.
“I have never been a quitter,” he told the nation in a 15-minute-long televised speech. “To leave office before my term is completed is abhorrent to every instinct in my body. But as President, I must put the interests of America first. America needs a full-time President and a full-time Congress, particularly at this time with problems we face at home and abroad.”
“To continue to fight through the months ahead for my personal vindication would almost totally absorb the time and attention of both the President and the Congress in a period when our entire focus should be on the great issues of peace abroad and prosperity without inflation at home,” he continued. “Therefore, I shall resign the Presidency effective at noon tomorrow. Vice President Ford will be sworn in as President at that hour in this office.”, President Nixon stated in his official resignation speech, at 9:01pm in the Oval Office. Nixon was the first President ever in American history to resign from office.
Due to the Watergate scandal, the media became more confident and aggressive. Watergate was unraveled by the Washington Post reporters, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. Their work led to the development of teams of “investigative” reporters on newspapers around the world. “Deep Throat” became an everyday term, referring to the anonymous official who leaked information to Woodward and Bernstein.
Bob Woodward was born in Geneva, Illinois on March 26, 1943. He enrolled in Yale University with an NROTC scholarship, and studied History and English. He graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in 1965, and began a five-year tour of duty in the U.S. Navy. After being discharged as a lieutenant in August, 1970, Woodward considered attending law school but applied for a job as a reporter for The Washington Post. He was given a two-week trial but was not hired due to his lack of journalistic experience. In 1974, Woodward partnered up with Bernstein and wrote his first book titled “All The President’s Men”, which went on to be a #1 bestseller the spring before Nixon resigned. The movie inspired a wave of interest in investigative reporting as a career and journalism in general. It is frequently cited as the best movie about the practice of journalism. Woodward had worked for The Washington Post since 1971. He has won nearly every American journalism award, and the Post won the 1973 Pulitzer Prize for his work with Carl Bernstein on the Watergate scandal. Woodward had also won the Gerald R. Ford Prize for Distinguished Reporting on the Presidency in 2003. Wooward’s most recent publication “The Last of the President’s Men” is the final part to his bestseller referring the Richard Nixon and Watergate.
Carl Bernstein is an American investigative journalist and author who was born February 14, 1944 in our nation’s capital, Washington D.C. Having dropped out of the University of Maryland, he was unable to formally become a reporter because the paper requires a college degree and he had no desire to finish his coursework. In 1966, Bernstein was hired at the Washington Post on it’s metro staff. Ten years later, Bernstein left his journalism job to become a senior correspondent for ABC News in New York that mainly focused on national security matters. In his first story for “20/20,” Bernstein reveals a U.S. secret alliance with China, Pakistan and Egypt, which supplied arms to Afghanistan’s fight against the Soviet Union. Bernstein shared a Pulitzer Prize with Bob Woodward for his coverage of Watergate for The Washington Post. His most recent book is the acclaimed biography, A Woman in Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The overall effect of Watergate is seen as having a cleansing effect on the nation’s political process. Many laws and acts were successfully passed after the scandal. One being the Ethics in Government Act which is a U.S. federal law that created public disclosure of financial and employment history of public officials. Another being the Amendment of the Freedom of Information Act. Congress wanted to amend the FOIA to create a more open government but President Ford vetoed that act. Congress then voted to override his veto. A third was the Passing of the National Emergencies Act, a U.S. federal law that was passed in 1976 to stop open-ended states of emergency and formalize the power of Congress to put checks and balances on the emergency power of the President. A few benefits of Watergate were not possible without the journalistic duo of Bernstein and Woodward. Investigative reporting and political journalism were on the highrise and soon become the “cool” thing to do. Many more high school students wanted to further their education to become a writer. The major downfall of Watergate is that the nation’s trust in politicians became scarce. It will be a long time before politics in the United States is the same again.