5 Things You Didn't Know About the Watergate Burglary

On August 8, 1974, President Nixon, facing impeachment, resigned from office in a cloud of scandal and wrongdoing. See how much you remember about the Watergate investigation that brought down some of the most powerful men in Washington, D.C.


Nixon Tried to Obstruct the Investigation. # Before leaving, Nixon addressed the nation in a live broadcast, telling them of his resignation and going over his accomplishments. Image source: WikiCommons In various efforts to obstruct the investigation, Nixon asked the CIA to interfere with the FBI investigation, which they refused to do. Hush money was paid to the co-conspirators, and Nixon taped his discussion with John Dean to pay E. Howard Hunt $75,000. Chuck Colson was offered clemency on Nixon’s orders to get him to keep quiet about what he knew.

The White House Worked Hard to Fire the Independent Counsel. # This photo of Nixon and his wife, Pat, was taken a short time before his resignation by Oliver Atkins. Image source: WikiCommons While the Justice Department, headed by Archibald Cox, was trying to get the tapes, the White House refused to cooperate and repeatedly tried to get Cox removed as counsel. Elliot Richardson, the attorney general, was ordered by Nixon to fire Cox but refused and resigned from his post. William Ruckelshaus, who was acting attorney general after Richardson, also refused and quit, and it was Robert Bork, Solicitor General in the Justice Department, who finally fired Cox, which abolished the special prosecutor’s office.


There Were Three Articles of Impeachment Against Nixon. The first impeachment article charged Nixon with obstructing the Watergate investigation, covering up and protecting the people responsible for it and concealing evidence, among other charges. The second charged that Nixon tried to enlist the help of the IRS to investigate his political enemies and oversaw the break-in of Daniel Ellsberg’s office along with letting the men who broke into the DNC headquarters work at the White House.

Many People Were Charged With Participating in the Coverup and Related Crimes. Although there were many people charged with crimes in the Watergate coverup and break-ins, at least 12 were convicted and served jail time for their parts. Among them was H.R. Haldeman, Nixon’s chief of staff; John Mitchell, Nixon’s campaign manager for his reelection and former attorney general; and John Dean, who served as counsel to the White House. E. Howard Hunt, who had worked as a CIA officer, and G. Gordon Liddy, a previous FBI agent, were also among those convicted of the burglary.

The Supreme Court Ruled That Nixon Had to Turn Over the Tapes. Efforts to impede the investigation of the Watergate burglary failed following the indictment of former Nixon aides. Nixon was referred to as an unindicted co-conspirator and was still balking at handing over the tapes used to record all conversations that took place in the oval office. Although the Supreme Court ordered Nixon to hand the tapes over to investigators, he did not do so until August, and the tapes showed that the president was involved in the crimes committed at Watergate.

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