Watergate scandal was the most serious political scandal in the political life of the United States. It took place in 1972 and was associated with Richard Nixon`s re-election campaign. On June 17 in 1972, five burglars were caught in the office of the Democratic National Committee in Washington. They were trying to steal secret documents and wiretap phones. Nixon took measures to cover up the consequences of operation, attempting to stop inquiry initiated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, firing staff members, and destroying sources of evidence.
In 1974, Nixon`s role in the incident was determined, and he resigned. There were no attempts to prosecute Nixon. FBI concluded that the incident in Watergate stemmed from Nixon`s campaign of political sabotage and spying. It took place on behalf of Nixon`s campaign and was directed by representatives of Committee for the Reelection of the President and by officials from the White House. All these activities aimed at Nixon`s Democratic contenders. It made up a major strategy of Nixon`s campaign (Bernstein &Woodward). It occurred that the bigger portion of contributions Nix spent on the undercover campaign with the purpose of discrediting candidates from the Democratic party and take them out from competition. Although specialists claim that intelligence work is common during a presidential campaign and is carried out by political parties, the materials uncovered during the investigation are claimed to be unprecedented in intensity and scope.
Secret materials comprised information about families of the members of Democratic Candidates and dossiers on their private life. The forged letters distributed under the letterheads of the candidates were also found by FBI agents. Seized files of confidential campaigns, campaign schedules and information about the lives of the candidates. They also found the personal data of planting provocateurs within the organizations (Bernstein &Woodward). All that they found could not be categorized as intellectual property. All these materials were collected for confusion and dissension so that the members of the Democratic party would be unable of uniting after selection a presidential nominee.
Nixon`s conduct during the investigation raised more and more questions. The president refused to turn over their tape recording to either Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox or Senate Watergate committee. Subpoenas were served immediately. The chairman of the committee expressed his disappointment with Nixon`s decision, saying that the Watergate scandal was the greatest tragedy of the USA. No redeeming features occurred in Watergate scandal. A similar viewpoint was expressed by Howard Baker, the vice chairman of the committee. Baker stated that they were on the edge of a constitutional confrontation between the White House and the Congress.
The materials which Nixon refused to give were vital for a thorough inquiry.
Nixon`s refusal to show their tapes was rooted in the idea that the information heard would be treated differently by various investigators. These documents would be interpreted accurately if they were referred only to a tremendous number of other confidential files, documents, and recordings, unrelated to Watergate scandal. Nixon promised several times that he would address publicly the issues associated with Watergate scandal at an appropriate time. Nixon`s statement was claimed to be made so that the constitutional principle of power separation would be preserved, serving the interests of all people (Kilpatrick). It was clear that those tapes were evidence which contained information about criminal conspiracy, encompassing an attempt to obstruct justice among influencing governmental authorities.
In closing, Watergate scandal was a turning point in American political life. Although other authorities pardoned immediately for all the committed crimes, many Americans doubted the questions of presidency and leadership. They started thinking more critically about the election campaigns after Nixon`s spying activity was disclosed.
- Bernstein, C. & Woodward, B. (1972). FBI Finds Nixon Aides Sabotaged Democrats. Washington Post.
- Kilpatrick, C. (1973). President Refuses to Turn Over Tapes; Ervin Committee, Cox Issue Subpoenas. Washington Post.