The Watergate Scandal Essay

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A defining moment in American history, the Watergate scandal, dramatically transformed the way Americans view politicians and government. In the eyes of most Americans, trust, honor and integrity, vanished from the political landscape.

For almost 200 years the American public viewed their government and its chief executive with virtual reverence. Presidents like George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy were the embodiment of every principle and value set forth in the Constitution and Bill of Rights. The events that occurred in Vietnam coupled with the Watergate scandal shocked the nation and irreparably damaged the publics’ view of politics and government activities. The release of the Pentagon papers
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The transgressions uncovered during the Watergate break-in investigation discouraged Americans by shattering their belief in Presidential infallibility. As Richard Nixon’s chief-of-staff, H.R. Haldeman, said, “…comes a very clear thing: you can’t trust the government; you can’t believe what they say; and you can’t rely on their judgment; and the – the implicit infallibility of presidents, which has been an accepted thing in America, is badly hurt by this, because it shows that people do things the President wants to do even though it’s wrong, and the President can be wrong.” These words expressed the sentiment of most Americans following Watergate and the publicity surrounding the investigation and President Nixon’s subsequent resignation.

As time progressed and the investigation began to uncover the truth about what transpired at the Watergate apartment complex several things became evident: most of the burglars were ex-CIA and ex-FBI personnel, the burglars were paid with money directly from the re-election campaign and President Nixon not only knew about and sanctioned the break-in but deliberately attempted to cover it up. When called before Congress to testify about his knowledge, White House staffer John Dean testified that Nixon and his aides attempted to “stonewall” the investigation. As Congress continued its inquiry, it became clear that Nixon…

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