Friday, September 30, 2005

Lest We Forget

Following is a timeline for the Watergate Scandal, which lead to the eventual resignation of President Richard M. Nixon. Nixon was re-elected in a landslide on November 7, 1972. He actually did have a mandate. And yet, he was brought down by lies, deceit, shenanigans, corruption and the hubris of a Republican administration. June 13, 1971 The New York Times begins publishing the Pentagon Papers (a secret history of the Vietnam War). The Washington Post begins to publish the papers later that week. September 3, 1971 The White House "plumbers" unit (so-named because they plugged leaks in the administration) burglarizes a psychiatrist's office to find files on Daniel Ellsberg, the former military analyst who leaked the Pentagon Papers. June 17, 1972 Five men are arrested at 2:30 a.m. trying to bug the offices of the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate hotel and office complex. June 19, 1972 The Washington Post reports that a GOP security aide is among the Watergate burglars. Former attorney general John Mitchell, head of the Nixon reelection campaign, denies any link to the operation. August 1, 1972 Washington Post reports a $25,000 cashier's check, earmarked for the Nixon campaign, wound up in the bank account of a Watergate burglar. September 29, 1972 Washington Post reports that John Mitchell, while serving as attorney general, controlled a secret Republican fund used to finance widespread intelligence-gathering operations against the Democrats. October 10, 1972 Washington Post reports that FBI agents establish that the Watergate break-in stems from a massive campaign of political spying and sabotage conducted on behalf of the Nixon reelection effort. November 7, 1972 Nixon is reelected. It's one of the biggest landslides in American political history. Nixon gets more than 60 percent of the vote. Dem nominee, Sen. George McGovern (SD) suffers a humiliating defeat. January 30, 1973 Former Nixon aides G. Gordon Liddy and James W. McCord Jr. are convicted of conspiracy, burglary and wiretapping in the Watergate incident. Five other men plead guilty. April 30, 1973 Nixon's top White House staffers, H.R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman, and Attorney General Richard Kleindienst resign over the scandal. White House counsel John Dean is fired. May 18, 1973 The Senate Watergate Committee begins nationally televised hearings. Attorney General-designate Elliot Richardson appoints former solicitor general Archibald Cox as the Justice Department's special prosecutor for Watergate. June 3, 1973 WaPo reports John Dean told Watergate investigators that he discussed the Watergate cover-up with President Nixon at least 35 times. June 13, 1973 WaPo reports Watergate prosecutors have found a detailed memo addressed to John Ehrlichman describing burglary plans for Ellsberg's office. July 13, 1973 Former presidential appointments secretary Alexander Butterfield tells Watergate Committee that Nixon had recorded all conversations and telephone calls in his offices since 1971. July 18, 1973 Nixon orders the White House taping system disconnected. July 23, 1973 Nixon refuses to turn over the presidential tape recordings to the Watergate Committee or to the special prosecutor. October 20, 1973 Nixon fires Archibald Cox and abolishes the office of special prosecutor in what is called The Saturday Night Massacre. Attorney General Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William D. Ruckelshaus resign. Pressure to impeach Nixon mounts in Congress. November 17, 1973 Nixon declares, "I'm not a crook,” claiming he's innocent in the Watergate case. December 7, 1973 White House can't explain an 18 1⁄2-minute gap in one of the subpoenaed tapes. White House Chief of Staff Alexander Haig says it may be "some sinister force" that erased the segment. April 30, 1974 The White House turns over more than 1,200 pages of edited transcripts of Nixon tapes to the House Judiciary Committee. Committee won't accept transcripts and demands the tapes. July 24, 1974 The Supreme Court rules unanimously Nixon has to release the tape recordings of 64 White House conversations. Supreme Court rejects executive privilege claim. July 27, 1974 House Judiciary Committee passes the first of three articles of impeachment and charges obstruction of justice. August 8, 1974 Richard Nixon becomes the first U.S. president to resign. Vice President Gerald R. Ford becomes president. Ford later pardons Nixon of all charges related to the Watergate case.

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