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					Richard Nixon and the
     Watergate
      Scandal
         Richard Milhous Nixon
   Highly experienced politician
    (Republican)
       Served in House and Senate
        before becoming Eisenhower’s VP
       Lost to John F. Kennedy in VERY
        CLOSE 1960 election
   Elected President in 1968 with
    backing of the “silent majority”
   Wins re-election in land-slide
    (1972)
             WATERGATE
   Watergate refers to the forced entry of
    members of the Committee to Re-elect the
    President (CREEP) into the headquarters
    of the Democratic National Committee
   The Watergate Scandal represents the
    larger issue of abuses of executive
    authority
          Watergate Burglary
   Five men break into Watergate Complex
    trying to bug the offices of the Democratic
    National Committee on June 17, 1972
            The Burglars




   One man, James McCord is employed by
    the RNC and CREEP
   G. Gordon Liddy and E. Howard Hunt,
    both White House employees,
    communicated with burglars
   All men were indicted
                  The Cover-Up
   Nixon administration begins to destroy
    documents
   In order to prevent an FBI investigation, Nixon
    argues that an investigation would interfere with
    “national-security concerns.”
   As guilty verdicts are handed down on the
    burglars, they threaten to turn on their
    employers unless they receive “hush” money
       Nixon authorizes $75,000 for E. Howard Hunt
   Nixon publicly declared no one from his
    administration is involved in Watergate break-in
                Cover-Up (cont.)
   In light of allegations of burglars, a special
    prosecutor, Archibald Cox, is appointed and a
    special Senate Committee is created to
    investigate the break-in
       Why? What is this an example of?
   In July 1973, former advisor Alexander
    Butterfield informed Committee that Nixon had
    taped all Oval Office conversations since 1971
   Nixon disobeyed a subpoena from Cox to turn
    over the tapes citing “executive privilege.”
       Executive privilege: legal theory that at president has
        the right to withhold information or documents from
        other branches of government for fear that it would
        threaten separation of powers
                Cover-Up (cont.)
    “Saturday Night Massacre” - Oct. 20, 1973
        Nixon orders his attorney general and deputy attorney
         general to fire Archibald Cox. Both resign instead.
        Action seen by public as an obstruction of justice



                   "...in all of my years of public life, I have never obstructed justice.
                   And I think, too, that I can say that in my years of public life that
                   I've welcomed this kind of examination, because people have got
                   to know whether or not their President's a crook. Well, I'm not a
                   crook! I've earned everything I've got.” - Nixon




Archibald Cox
             Cover-Up (cont.)

   Nixon turns over
    subpoenaed
    tapes but they
    contain a crucial
    18-minute gap
   Congress is
    irritated at lack of
    disclosure
            The “Smoking Gun”
   More tapes were subpoenaed but Nixon refused
    to hand them over citing executive privilege
       U.S. v. Nixon - Supreme Court rules unanimously that
        Nixon must turn over tapes. He does.
       This is the end for Nixon
   “Smoking-Gun” tape
       Conversation between Nixon and one of his advisors
        discussing how to thwart the FBI investigation
                         Resignation
   Rather than face inevitable impeachment, Nixon
    becomes the first president to resign on August
    9, 1974
   Gerald Ford pardons Nixon one month later,
    giving him immunity from prosecution
          Did Ford do the right thing?
                “My conscience tells me clearly and certainly that I cannot
                 prolong the bad dreams that continue to reopen a chapter that
                 is closed. My conscience tells me that only I, as President,
                 have the constitutional power to firmly shut and seal this book.”
           Why did Nixon do it?
   Paranoia
       Close election of 1960 had left an imprint on
        Nixon’s mind
       Enemies list - media, Democrats, and even
        some Republicans were out to get him
       Given that Nixon crushed McGovern in 1972 -
        won 49 states, the break-in appears foolish
   Some even argue Nixon was mentally ill
         Uncovering Watergate
   Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward -
    Washington Post journalists
   Contacted by an insider - “Deep Throat” -
    who fed them information
   “Deep Throat” was recently revealed as
    W. Mark Felt, the FBI’s #2 man
       He resented Nixon’s interference
        with the FBI’s investigation of    the
        break-in
        Nixon’s Abuses of Power
   Nixon’s actions as President caused historians to coin a
    new term to describe the 20th century president: the
    imperial presidency
       Imperial presidency: a president who has exceeded his
        constitutional authority and is drifting towards dictatorship.
   What had Nixon done to warrant the label “imperial
    president?”
       Political favors to powerful business groups in exchange for
        campaign contributions (milk price supports)
       Misuse of public funds (government money to renovate home)
       Deception over Vietnam and bombing of Cambodia (ie.
        Pentagon Papers)
       Illegal domestic political surveillance and espionage (ie.
        Watergate complex)
       Using resources of executive branch to harass/discredit political
        enemies (ie. Ellsberg)
        The Pentagon Papers
   7,000 page, classified document dealing
    Vietnam War (contains dirty secrets!)
   Daniel Ellsberg, Pentagon analyst, leaks
    documents to New York Times (June
    1971)
   Government temporarily blocks publication
    but is overruled by Supreme Court in New
    York Times v. United States
     Nixon’s Role in Pentagon
              Papers
   Papers revealed government deception
    regarding war in Vietnam
   Nixon dispatches a “plumbers” unit to seal
    leaks within administration (Sept. 1971)
   Break into office of Ellsberg’s psychiatrist
    in effort to discredit Ellsberg

     Daniel Ellsberg
         Legacy of Watergate
   Big Ideas:
     The “end” of the imperial presidency –
      no one is above the law!
     Proves that the system of checks and
      balances works!

				
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posted:11/8/2011
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