The Watergate Scandal Essay

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The Watergate Scandal


The Watergate Scandal involved a number of illegal activities that were designed to help President Richard Nixon win re-election. The scandal involved burglary, wiretapping, campaign financing violations, and the use of government agencies to harm political opponents. A major part of the scandal was also the cover-up of all these illegal actions. “Watergate, however, differed from most previous political scandals because personal greed apparently did not play an important role. Instead Watergate attacked one of the chief features of Democracy – free and open elections” (Worldbook 1).

The Watergate Scandal got its name from the Watergate Complex in Washington D.C. This large office building was the home of
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In April of 1973, special prosecutor Archibald Cox was appointed to handle the case. Presidential Council John W. Dean III became the chief witness against President Nixon in the court hearings. In the trial Dean admitted that he was a major part of the scandal and that Nixon did in fact know of the illegal activities being committed by his administration. Dean also testified that Nixon’s Administration had planned to use the IRS and other government agencies to punish people who the White House had placed on so called “enemies-lists” (Worldbook 2). Dean served four months in prison for his part in the Watergate Scandal, but through his testimony a new door was opened into the scandal.

Through further investigation it was discovered by Alexander P. Butterfield, that President Nixon had made tape recordings of conversations with White House officials. When asked to release the tapes Nixon refused, saying that he had a constitutional right to keep the tapes confidential. He was later ordered by the court to hand over the tapes. Nixon offered to provide summaries of all the tapes, but his idea was rejected and he was again ordered to hand over the original tapes. Infuriated by the court’s decision, he ordered his attorney general and his deputy attorney general to fire Cox. For their refusal to dismiss Cox, both Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William…