AMH Chapter 21 Section 2

Chapter 21
Section 2
The Watergate Scandal
Protesting Nixon
• Nixon became president
when the nation was in
• He viewed protesters as
people out to bring
down his
Focusing on 1972
• Nixon was expected to win re-election in
– His approval rating was high.
• However, the Vietnam War continued.
• Nixon and his advisers also remembered that
he won in 1968 by a slim margin. any means necessary
• As a result, his team tried to gain an
advantage by any method.
• Determined to win the 1972 election at all
costs, Nixon’s staffers began spying on
opposition rallies and spreading rumors and
false reports.
• They also tried to steal information from the
Democratic Party’s headquarters.
• The scandal known as
Watergate originated
from the Nixon
attempts to cover up its
involvement in the
break-in at the
Democratic National
Break-in at the Watergate Hotel
• On June 17, 1972, a
security guard at the
Watergate complex
discovered burglars.
• The police arrested the
No ordinary criminal
• One of the burglars,
James McCord, was a
member of the
Committee for the Reelection of the
President (CREEP).
• Questions came up
about the White
House’s connection to
the burglary.
Covering up the break-in
• Although President
Nixon may not have
ordered the break-in,
he did order a cover-up.
• The cover up included
destroying documents
and giving false
• The White House
denied any involvement
in the break-in.
1972 Election
• On Election Day, Nixon won 520 electoral
votes, while his opponent won only 17.
– Most Americans believed the denial.
• The Watergate burglars
went on trial in 1973.
• James McCord agreed
to testify before the
grand jury and the
Senate’s Select
Committee on
Presidential Campaign
• Many people testified
after McCord.
The President is involved…
• In June 1973, John Dean,
the counsel to the
president, testified that
former Attorney General
John Mitchell had
ordered the Watergate
break-in and that Nixon
had helped cover it up.
• The Nixon administration
denied the charges.
• The committee then tried
to find out who was
telling the truth.
White House taping system
• On July 16, 1973, White
House aide Alexander
Butterfield testified that
Nixon had ordered a
taping system installed in
the White House to
record conversations.
• The committee believed
that the tapes would tell
them what the president
knew and when he knew
Executive Privilege
• Everyone wanted the
• However, President
Nixon refused to turn
over the tapes, pleading
executive privilege, the
opinion that White
House conversations
should remain
confidential to protect
national security.
Special Prosecutor
• Nixon appointed
Archibald Cox as a
special prosecutor, or a
lawyer from outside the
government, to
investigate the
Watergate cases.
• Cox took Nixon to court
to force him to give up
the tapes.
– Nixon had Cox fired.
Vice President…Taken Bribes
• In the fall 1973 Vice
President Spiro Agnew
resigned because it was
discovered that he had
taken bribes. Gerald
Ford, the Republican
leader of the House of
became vice president.
Handing over the tapes
• President Nixon
appointed a new special
prosecutor, Leon
– He also wanted the
president’s tapes.
• In July the Supreme
Court ruled that the
president had to turn
over the tapes.
• Nixon did so.
Impeachment begins
• A few days later the House Judiciary
Committee voted to impeach Nixon, or
officially charge him with misconduct.
• The committee charged that Nixon had
obstructed justice in the Watergate cover-up.
Nixon’s is involved
• The next step was for the
House of Representatives
to vote whether or not to
impeach the president.
• Investigators found
evidence against the
– One of the tapes showed
that Nixon had ordered the
CIA to stop the FBI’s
investigation of the breakin.
Nixon Resigns
• Nixon’s impeachment
and conviction now
seemed certain.
• As a result, on August 9,
1974, Nixon resigned.
Ford became president.
Limiting the Presidency
• After Watergate, Congress passed laws to limit
the power of the executive branch.
• The Federal Campaign Act Amendments
limited campaign contributions.
• It also set up an independent agency to
administer stricter election laws.
• The Ethics in Government Act required that
high government officials provide financial
Americans View on Watergate
• Watergate made many Americans distrust
their public officials.
• Other Americans saw Watergate as proof that
no one is above the law.

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