Politics are considered by many to be corrupt. Many believe this out of cynicism but other more trusting observers will only believe this if they have proof. Many of these trusting observers finally received the proof they needed to be convinced that politics are corrupt. On June 17, 1972 during the presidential campaign, Washington, D.C. police arrested seven burglars at the Watergate Hotel who were involved in a political scandal which would dramatically influence politics for years to come. The Watergate Scandal has caused a cloud of distrust to hover over politics and has been the direct cause of several political reforms which were consequences resulting from violations of certain constitutional laws.
The Watergate Scandal manifested on June 17, 1972, when seven employees of the Committee to Re-Elect the President (CREEP) were arrested breaking into the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters in the Watergate Hotel. (Watergate Scandal 1) Immediately following their arrest many observers thought that these employees of CREEP were breaking into the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters for the first time. In fact CREEP employees had broken into the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters six times between August 21, 1971 and June 17, 1972. During their sixth break-in on June 17, they were caught. (Secret Agenda) At approximately 2:30 in the morning on this date, they were caught by police in the Watergate Hotel. Police seized a walkie talkie, 40 rolls of unexposed film, two 35 millimeter cameras, lock picks, pen-sized tear gas guns, and bugging devices. (Gold 75). The burglars and two of their accomplices, G. Gordon Liddy and E. Howard Hunt, were indicted in September of 1972. They were charged with burglary, wire-tapping, and conspiracy. They were subsequently convicted of these charges four months later. (Watergate 1). Judge John Sirica, who convicted these men, was lenient on their sentencing because he felt there was not enough hard evidence and details. He did not feel that the evidence revealed were pertinent enough to the specific charges. Judge Sirica proffered the leniency in an effort to extract more information from the defendants. As a result of this information, it become increasingly evident that the burglars were closely related to the Central Intelligence Agency and the Committee for the Re-Election of the President. Shortly thereafter some of Nixon’s aides began cooperating with federal prosecutors. (Watergate 1). Immediately following the initial Watergate crisis a defection of aides in the Committee for the Re-Election of the President became evident. (Watergate 1). The Democratic National Committee break-in, defection of CREEP aides, and the additional trial information led the investigators who were looking into the case to the belief that someone in a high position in the executive branch of the government had to be involved. The information and evidence implicated the President of the United States. This growing suspicion led to an intensification of the federal investigation and forced the President to appoint a Special Prosecutor to investigate the possibility of involvement of higher officials in the government hierarchy. Archibald Cox was sworn in as the Special Prosecutor in May of 1973. (Watergate Scandal 1). Shortly thereafter, John W. Dean III told Cox and the Ervin Committee that the President had known of the cover-up and deliberately denied any knowledge of the break-in. Later, a former White House staff member, Alexander Butterfield, claimed that Nixon had secretly tape-recorded all of the conversations that occurred in his executive offices. Once Special Prosecutor Cox discovered this, he and the Ervin Committee tried to relinquish these tapes from the control of President Nixon. Nixon cited Executive Privilege and refused to hand over the tapes. Nixon then ordered the Attorney General to fire Cox even though the President himself had appointed him. Attorney General Elliot L. Richardson refused. The Attorney General stated that he knew it was illegal for the President to remove a properly appointed Special Prosecutor during the course of an investigation. Richardson then resigned from office. The next in the chain of command, William Ruckelshaus, also refused to fire Cox and resigned from office. Finally, Nixon convinced his Solicitor General, Robert H. Bork, to fire Cox. This event occurred on October 20, 1973 and was heralded by the media as "The Saturday Night Massacre." (Water Scandal 1). On November 1, 1973 a new Special Prosecutor was hired to replace Cox.