Watergate WATERGATE SCANDAL On the early morning of June 17, 1972, five burglars were caught inside the Democratic National Headquarters in the Watergate office building in Washington, D.C.
The burglars, who had been attempting to tap the headquarters phones, were linked to President Richard Nixons Committee to Re-elect the President. The Nixon administration, long before the Watergate break-in, had been very careful, almost paranoid, about their public image, and did everything they could to avoid unfavorable publicity. In fact, paranoia was a habitual characteristic of Nixon furthered by the publics criticism of his policies regarding the veitnam War, according to Nixon White House official Jeb Stuart Magruder. That atmosphere of paranoia and suspicion was fueled by the leaking of the Pentagon Papers, defense department documents concerning the United States involvement in the Vietnam War.
These highly secret papers were leaked by Daniel Ellsberg to the New York Times. Shortly after, Nixon established a White House special investigations unit to trace and stop any further leaks to the press. This special investigations unit was nicknamed the Plumbers. It was headed by two of the Presidents men, G. Gordon Liddy and E. Howard Hunt.
In an attempt to stop new leaks, the Plumbers investigated the private lives of Nixons enemies and critics. G. Gordon Liddy was the mastermind behind most of CREEPs (committee to re-elect the president) political tricks and illegal activities and proposed a huge intelligence operation against the Democrats. Included in the intelligence operation were plans for a small-scale burglary of the Democratic National Headquarters, located in the Watergate office complex. When Liddy proposed the operation, Muskie (presidential candidate) was ahead of Nixon in some opinion polls and CREEP was pressured to act. John Mitchell gave the authority to Magruder, who gave Liddy the approval to perform the break-in.
There was enough evidence from Haldeman to indicate the President knew of the plans for the break-in before it occurred, although Nixon never gave direct orders to the Committee concerning the break-in. The June 17,1972 was not the only break-in of the Democratic Headquarters that occurred. On May 28, 1972, five burglars, carrying out Liddys plan, broke into the headquarters in attempt to tap the phones. The Howard Johnson hotel across the street is where CREEP members monitored them.
When the transcript of the phone calls reached Committee officials, they were deemed worthless.Another burglary was planned to bug the of the Democratic National Chairman, Lawrence OBrien, who was rumored to have damaging information about President Nixon. The five burglars under the order of the Presidents re-election campaign broke into the Democratic National Headquarters, on June 17, 1972. Security guard Frank Wills caught the burglars, when he noticed tape over the locks on the doors. The burglars were arrested and charges were also filed against G.
Gordon Liddy and E.Howard Hunt. The Burglars left behind $14,000 in hundred dollar bills that could be traced directly back to the Committee to Re-elect the President. Two young reporters from the Washington Post, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, were the first reporters to reveal to the public how deeply involved in the scandal the White House was. CREEPs role however in the Watergate break-in was greatly underestimated during the election do to Nixons commanding lead over the Democratic presidential candidate.
In fact, Nixon, won a landslide victory over the democrats, winning 49 of 50 states, to become the 37th president of the United States. Not to long after the election, the story of the scandal was broke wide open, starting with the prosecution of seven men arrested in connection with the break-in.On January 10, 1973, opening statements in the break-in trial began. The nations attention began to shift to the Watergate affair, while Judge John J. Sirica presided over the case. The seven men, Barker, Gonzalez, Martinez, Sturgis, McCord, Liddy, and Hunt, were charged with various counts of conspiracy, illegal wiretapping, burglary, and illegal possession of eavesdropping equipment.