When W. Mark Felt, former #2 man at the FBI during the Nixon years, died on December 18, 2008, the Washington Post confirmed that he was indeed "Deep Throat" -- the legendary secret informer who helped Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein break the Watergate case wide open and which caused Richard M. Nixon to resign.
What was Watergate??!?!!?????
Richard M. Nixon was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from California in 1946, winning office for his tough anti-Communist views and no-holds-barred campaigning.
In 1948, Nixon led a House subcommittee investigation into whether Alger Hiss, a liberal intellectual and bureaucrat, was a Communist spy. Whittaker Chambers, a senior editor from Time magazine, exposed Hiss in dramatic, televised testimony. Hiss was sent to prison, Chambers went home to write his memoirs and become a famous conservative icon, and Nixon was on his way to the U.S. Senate.
In 1950, Nixon was elected to the U.S. Senate, defeating Senator Helen Gahagan Douglas (D), a former actress. Douglas was a moderate and a gentle, kind person. Nixon viciously attacked her during the course of the campaign, accusing her of having Communist sympathies. Nixon buried Douglas at the polls in November.
In 1952, Republican presidential nominee Dwight D. Eisenhower named Nixon his vice-presidential running mate. In August 1952, Democrats claimed that Nixon had received $18,000 from a "slush fund" that had functioned as a source of income for the candidate. To counter these charges, Nixon made a dramatic speech to the nation on September 23, 1952. Nixon listed his family assets, and outright denied the Democratic charges except in one case. Nixon admitted to a single gift -- a cocker spaniel dog named Checkers, which he gave to his two young daughters. The "Checkers speech" was a success and saved Nixon's political career.
In 1960, Nixon ran for the presidency against John F. Kennedy. Nixon lost by only 118,574 votes. The election was probably much closer; widespread Democratic vote fraud in Illinois probably cost Nixon the election.
In 1962, Nixon ran for governor of California and was soundly defeated by Pat Brown (father of Jerry Brown). Afterward, a bitter Nixon told reporters, "You won't have Richard Nixon to kick around any more."
In 1968, Nixon ran for president again, declaring himself "tanned, rested and ready." Nixon won the presidency in a squeaker (by 510,314 votes) over Vice President and former senator Hubert M. Humphrey. Senator Eugene McCarthy (D-Minn.) nearly upset President Lyndon B. Johnson in February's New Hampshire primary (49-to-42 percent). The near-miss led Sen. Robert F. Kennedy (D-NY) -- who had previously denied any interest in the presidency and was in fact a rather conservative Democrat (contrary to his legacy today) -- to enter the race in March. Johnson, faced with an almost certain loss to McCarthy in April's Wisconsin primary, stunned the nation by announcing his retirement. With Johnson out of the race, voters turned to Kennedy as the more moderate candidate. Kennedy appeared to have locked up the Democratic nomination with a victory on June 4, 1968, in the California primary, but was assassinated by Sirhan Sirhan, a Jordanian immigrant, in the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.
The complete Watergate timeline, behind this cut..........
The Democratic National Convention -- held August 26-29, 1968, in Chicago – was an orgy of violence. More than 6,000 National Guardsmen and 5,000 Chicago police attacked about 3,000 anti-war demonstrators in Lincoln Park, brutally clubbing and gassing protestors in full view of television cameras. Sen. Abraham Ribicoff (D-Conn.) denounced the "Gestapo tactics on the streets of Chicago" from the dais. Chicago Mayor Richard Daley (D), seated on the convention dais mere feet from Ribicoff, loudly called the senator a "motherfucker" in front of a national television audience. Due to Kennedy's death, delegates were free to pick any candidate. They picked Humphrey.
Meeting in a Miami convention center surrounded by a mile of parking lot (a site picked to keep protestors away), the Republicans nominated Nixon as their candidate. Nixon claimed to have a "secret plan" to get America out of Vietnam. He was lying. But the ruse worked.
Richard Nixon won the November election by 812,412 votes (43.2 to 42.0 percent). Alabama governor George Wallace, a notorious racist, ran on the American Independent ticket. Wallace cut heavily into Humphrey's Democratic support in the South. Wallace garnered more than 9.9 million votes, or 13.5 percent.
Richard M. Nixon was sworn in as the 39th president of the United States on January 20, 1969. His chief of staff was H.R. Haldeman, a former advertising executive with the J. Walter Thompson agency in California. Haldeman brought with him fellow ad-man Dwight Chapin, and appointed him special assistant to the president.
On January 20, 1969, the Nixon campaign illegally hid $1.4 million in leftover funds from the 1968 presidential campaign for use as a "slush-fund" in the 1972 re-election campaign. The funds were to be used as a way of evading a new election law -- due to take effect in 1971-- which would force candidates to reveal the sources of their donations. At the same time, the Nixon team set up "The Committee to Re-Elect the President." The unfortunate acronym was spelled and pronounced "CREEP."
On May 19, 1969, FBI director J. Edgar Hoover met with Dr. Henry Kissinger, Nixon's national security advisor. Kissinger approved illegal phone taps on his staff in order to find out who was leaking information to the press about Nixon's illegal, secret B-52 bombing campaign in Cambodia. The logs recording the taps were not kept in the legally-required records, but in a separate file so the taps could be kept away from the courts.
In May 1970, John Ehrlichman, chief domestic policy advisor to President Nixon, hired John Caulfield and Anthony Ulasewicz, former New York City policemen, to begin collecting intelligence on potential Democratic candidates for president. Caulfield worked directly for John Dean, counsel to President Nixon. Ulasewicz reported to Caulfield. As part of his duties, Ulasewicz illegally impersonated police detectives and reporters in his investigation of Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), after Kennedy's car accident at Chappaquiddick bridge (where a young woman, Mary Jo Kopechne, drowned).
The same month, Tom Huston, an ultra-right-wing college student who had been chairman of Young Americans for Freedom, met twice with tax investigators at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to persuade them to illegally audit tax-exempt left-wing groups to challenge their tax-exempt status. Huston, who was merely a drone on Nixon's speechwriting staff, got nowhere. But Nixon and others were impressed with his aggressiveness.
On June 5, 1970, Richard Nixon ordered Huston to lead a working group of intelligence agency heads (CIA, Defense Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency, FBI, etc.) to investigate left-wing anti-war groups. Huston told the group that they should use illegal bugging, burglary and agent-provocateurs to destabilize the anti-war movement. The career bureaucrats were appalled, and demanded Nixon's approval before they went forward with these plans.
On July 14, 1970, Nixon approved the "Huston plan" and ordered it to go into effect on August 1, 1972.
On July 18, 1970, Huston wrote a memo to H.R. Haldeman, Nixon's chief of staff, advocating that the White House hire a team of burglars to break into the Brookings Institution (a liberal think-tank) and steal any official documents they found there. To cover their tracks, Huston advocated burning down Brookings in order to cover up the burglary.
On July 28, 1970, J. Edgar Hoover went to John Mitchell, U.S. Attorney General, to demand that Nixon withdraw approval for the "Huston plan." Alarmed by Hoover's description of the "Huson plan," Mitchell went to Nixon (one of his best friends), who withdrew his approval for the "Huston plan." By late January 1971, Huston had left the White House for unrelated reasons.
In November 1970, Nixon hired Charles Colson, a Republican political operative from Massachusetts who had worked for Senator Leverett Saltonstall (R-Mass.), as special White House counsel. Colson reported directly to the president, although in practice he had to go through chief of staff Haldeman.
In February 1971, Nixon ordered that an automatic taping system be installed in the Oval Office.
In the spring of 1971, White House chief of staff H.R. Haldeman installed Jeb Stuart Magruder to be director of CREEP. Haldman had initially recruited Magruder away from the cosmetics industry to be White House communications director in 1969. But now Haldeman wanted his own man in charge of CREEP, and Magruder was that man.
On May 5, 1971, Nixon and Haldeman conspired to have the Teamsters union send thugs into crowds of students (then protesting the war in Vietnam and threatening to block all bridges leading into D.C.), attacking them and beating them brutally. The plan was never carried out, because Haldeman believed the Teamsters would rat out Nixon if the plan were exposed.
In early June 1971, special counsel Chuck Colson hired E. Howard Hunt, a former CIA agent, as a security consultant. Hunt reported directly to Colson.
Around the same time, Dwight Chapin contacted a former college classmate, Donald Segretti. Segretti had become an attorney, served in the Army, and was now at loose ends. Chapin asked Segretti to help the Nixon re-election team destabilize the political system in the United States through the use of "dirty tricks." This would ensure Nixon's re-election. Segretti agreed, and said he would recruit other his friends to help.
The same month, cop-turned-White House-spy Jack Caulfield proposed "Operation Sandwedge." "Operation Sandwedge" would set up a phony security firm to provide fake security services to Republican corporate donors, who in turn would "pay for services" (e.g., make donations). This money would be used to fund illegal espionage and dirty tricks against the Democrats in the 1972 presidential campaign. Among Caulfield's proposals: penetrate Democratic headquarters with a mole; burglarize Democratic offices and steal or photograph documents; conduct illegal surveillance of Democratic meetings; and undertake a disinformation campaign to undermine the political process.
On June 13, 1971, the New York Times began publishing the "Pentagon Papers." Commissioned in 1967, the 47-volume, top-secret study by a defense contractor (the RAND Corp.) covered America's involvement in Vietnam from 1945 to May 1968. Only 15 copies of the study were made. The Pentagon Papers were leaked by Daniel Ellsberg, a RAND Corp. and Defense Dept. analyst who had become disenchanted with the war in Vietnam. Ellsberg gave the Pentagon Papers to New York Times reporter Neil Sheehan.
On June 14, Attorney General John Mitchell ordered the New York Times to cease publication of the Pentagon Papers. The Times refused.
On June 15, the Justice Dept. obtained an injunction from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York forcing the Times to cease publication of the Pentagon Papers.
On June 18, the Washington Post also began publishing the Pentagon Papers. (Ellsberg had given them a copy, too.) The government attempted to win a court order against the Post, but the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia refused to grant the government's injunction.
On June 19, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York overturned the district court's injunction against the New York Times. The same day, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia refused to overturn the district court's ruling and grant an injunction against the Washington Post.
On June 24, the New York Times asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear its appeal.
On June 30, 1971, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in New York Times v. United States (403 U.S. 713) -- in the most important of all free-speech cases ever handed down -- that the injunction against the New York Times constituted "prior restraint of the press" and was an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment.
In response to the publication of the Pentagon Papers, an outraged Nixon set up an "enemies list" of people who opposed Nixon and who Nixon felt were "out to get him." Initially limited to only 20 or so names, it expanded over the summer to more than 100 people and organizations.
On July 1, 1971, Gordon Strachan, chief aide to White House chief of staff H.R. Haldeman, received permission from Haldeman to set up "Operation Sandwedge."
On July 2, 1971, Nixon told H.R. Haldeman to establish a "plumbers" unit to plug "leaks" in the administration. Haldeman's chief aide, Egil "Bud" Krogh, headed the "Plumbers." Krogh was a lawyer who served as Nixon's advisor for national-capital affairs, then as drug czar, then as an aide to John Ehrlichman. The other Plumbers included E. Howard Hunt, G. Gordon Liddy, and David Young. G. Gordon Liddy, an attorney, was formerly the chief aide to domestic policy advisor John Ehrlichman. Liddy resigned in December 1971 and became chief counsel for CREEP, then chief finance counsel to CREEP (supposedly advising the organization on the new campaign finance law). But Liddy's real job was "security" -- making sure CREEP was not bugged, and collecting intelligence on the Democrats. David Young was appointments secretary to Dr. Henry Kissinger at the National Security Council and later was loaned out as an aide to John Ehrlichman.
The Plumbers reported to Ehrlichman. On several occasions, the Plumbers received assistance from Robert Mardian, Assistant Attorney General for Internal Security at the Justice Department. Mardian illegally used his office to obtain wiretaps and evidence about news leaks that the Plumbers could use against Nixon's political foes. By July 20, the Plumbers had a phone installed in Room 16 of the White House in the name of Kathleen Chenow, Young's secretary. The phone was installed with Ehrlichman's approval; calls to the phone went directly to the AT&T switching facility in downtown D.C., and did not go through the White House switchboard. The phone was used by Hunt to contact the Watergate burglars and others doing illegal work for the White House.
On August 5, 1971, Bud Krogh and David Young proposed burglarizing the offices of California psychiatrist Lewis Fielding to find files on Daniel Ellsberg, the analyst who had leaked the Pentagon Papers. Ellsberg had become severely depressed after his stint as a civilian analyst in Vietnam, and Fielding was his psychiatrist. Ehrlichman approved the plan a week later.
On August 15, 1971, Colson aide E. Howard Hunt traveled to Miami to meet an old CIA friend, ex-agent Bernard Barker. There, he recruited Barker and several other anti-Castro Cubans to work for the Plumbers.
In mid-August 1971, Nixon appointments secretary Dwight Chapin formally hired Donald Segretti to subvert and destroy the American political process by undermining the candidacies of Nixon's Republican challengers and Democratic opponents.
On September 9, 1971, the Plumbers burglarized Fielding's office, looking for evidence that would discredit or ruin Ellsberg. They found nothing.
On September 18, 1971, Haldeman ordered that more money be budgeted for "Operation Sandwedge." Attorney General Mitchell, illegally acting as head of CREEP even though he would not resign as attorney general for another nine months, transferred $50,000 to ex-cop Caulfield for use in "Operation Sandwedge." The money went through Herb Kalmbach, Nixon's personal attorney and CREEP's deputy finance chairman.
On September 28, 1971, Colson aide E. Howard Hunt attempted to forge State Department cables that would link President John F. Kennedy to the 1963 assassination of South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem. The hope was that the forged cables would discredit the Democrats, especially Senator Edward M. Kennedy. Hunt leaked the forged cables to Life magazine, but the magazine was unable to verify their authenticity before the magazine ceased publication (which occurred three months later).
On December 6, 1971, G. Gordon Liddy resigned as Erhlichman's aide and was hired by CREEP as its general counsel. But Liddy's real duties were to begin the illegal tapping of corporate donors for "security" and to funnel these funds to "Operation Sandwedge."
On January 1, 1972, ex-cop and Ehrlichman staffer Caulfield hired James McCord, a former CIA officer, to work for "Operation Sandwedge." McCord would officially be CREEP's security coordinator under Liddy.
Some time in early 1972, Maurice Stans, Nixon's former Commerce Secretary and now finance chairman of CREEP, set up a money-laundering operation with a Mexican attorney named Manuel Ogarrio Daguerre. Stans encouraged conservative Democrats, corporations (which were barred by law from donating to political campaigns), businessmen or labor leaders having regulatory problems, special-interest groups, and underground sources (such as the mafia, mob-dominated labor unions, casinos and others) to donate to the Nixon campaign before the new campaign finance law went into effect on April 7, 1972. The money would be laundered through Ogarrio's bank account in Mexico (where bank records were beyond the reach of American subpoenas), and then Ogarrio would then write checks to the Nixon campaign.
On January 27, 1972, G. Gordon Liddy met with Attorney General John Mitchell. Liddy proposed a $1 million operation called "Operation Gemstone." Burglary-and-bugging operations against Democratic headquarters and the campaign officers of Democratic presidential contenders; kidnapping of anti-war leaders, drugging them and holding them in Mexico; bugging the bedrooms of Democratic leaders; hiring prostitutes to sleep with Democratic candidates for president and then exposing the affairs on television; hiring a chase plan to bug the Democratic presidential campaign plane; hiring Cuban terrorists to sabotage the Democratic National Convention hotel and hall; hiring drug users, hippies, and pedophiles to stage mass demonstrations in "support" of the Democrats; funding radical Democratic candidates for president in order to force the party to repudiate its liberal wing -- all this and more were part of "Gemstone." Appalled at the plan's cost (but not the plan's illegal activities), Mitchell ordered Liddy to come up with something different.
Some time after the January 27 meeting, G. Gordon Liddy proposed murdering syndicated political columnist Jack Anderson. His proposal was rejected by Mitchell, who claimed the sanction was "too severe" for the "crimes" Anderson had committed.
On February 4, 1972, "Operation Gemstone" was scaled back to $500,000. The bugging operations were retained. John Dean, counsel to Nixon, obtained approval for "Operation Gemstone" from White House chief of staff H.R. Haldeman.
On March 30, 1972, "Operation Gemstone" was scaled back to $250,000 at a meeting between John Mitchell, Nixon special counsel Chuck Colson, CREEP director Jeb Magruder, and Mitchell's chief advisor, Fred LaRue. Colson argued that the chief target of the bugging plan should be Lawrence O'Brien, the Democrat's top strategist. Thus, the decision was made to bug the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters.
On April 7, 1972, Herb Kalmbach, Nixon's personal attorney, resigned as deputy finance chairman for CREEP. Kalmbach quit because he was too "dirty" to keep working under the new federal campaign finance law, which went into effect that day.
On April 11, 1972, Nixon's Midwest finance chairman, Kenneth H. Dahlberg, received from a Republican donor a cashier's check for $25,000. He turned it over to CREEP. It was never deposited in CREEP's accounts, but put into a "slush-fund" of cash and cashier's checks that was kept in a safe in the office of CREEP finance chairman Maurice Stans.
On May 2, 1972, J. Edgar Hoover died of a heart attack in his sleep. His deputy, L. Patrick Gray, was made Acting Director of the FBI. The #3 man at the FBI, W. Mark Felt, was elevated to be Gray's deputy.
On May 28, 1972, as part of "Operation Gemstone," G. Gordon Liddy and three others installed bugging equipment at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters at the Watergate hotel and office complex in Washington, D.C. But the equipment failed to function properly, and a second operation was planned.
On June 17, 1972, five burglars -- Bernard Barker, Virgilio Gonzalez, Eugenio Martinez, James W. McCord, and Frank Sturgis -- were arrested at 2:30 a.m. during a break-in at the Democratic National Committee offices at the Watergate hotel and office complex in Washington, D.C. The next morning, McCord admitted before the arraigning judge that he was a former CIA agent (but he did not disclose his current job as security director for CREEP). Bernard Barker was also a former CIA agent who had retired and opened a real estate agency in Miami. Gonzalez and Martinez were anti-Castro Cubans living in Miami. Gonzalez was a locksmith; Martinez worked for Barker's real estate agency. Sturgis was also a former CIA agent who had engaged in anti-Castro operations. The same day, E. Howard Hunt removed $10,000 from the Plumber's safe in the White House in order to pay lawyers for the five men. Later in the day, White House counsel John Dean was given possession of Hunt's own safe at the White House. In the safe, Dean discovered two notebooks which contained the names, phone numbers, and addresses of a number of people involved in the Watergate break-in. Dean illegally destroyed the notebooks.
On June 18, 1972, the Associated Press reported that James W. McCord was the security director for CREEP. The name of E. Howard Hunt was also in the notebook of both Eugenio Martinez and James W. McCord. Hunt was a consultant who worked for Charles W. Colson, chief counsel to President Nixon. Colson was considered the White House "hatchet man" -- the one who did dirty tricks and "fixed" things. The same day, E. Howard Hunt went into hiding.
On June 19, 1972, former U.S. Attorney General John Mitchell, now chairman of CREEP, denied any link to the burglary operation. The odd thing is, no one had asked Mitchell for a statement. This peaked the interest of political reporters at the Washington Post and New York Times. The same day, President Nixon ordered the CIA to "hinder" the FBI's investigation of the Watergate burglary, telling CIA director Richard Helms that the burglary involved "national security." Mass destruction and shredding of campaign documents occurred at CREEP headquarters as campaign officials sought to destroy any record of involvement with the Watergate burglary. The shredding was conducted by Robert Odle, former staff assistant for communications in the Nixon White House and now director of personnel at CREEP. Robert C. Mardian, a former Assistant Attorney General for Internal Security and now CREEP's political coordinator, began telling CREEP staff to "hold the ship together" and not volunteer any information to the FBI. Assisting Mardian was Fred LaRue, formerly John Mitchell's chief aide at the Justice Department and now Mitchell's chief aide at CREEP. Mardian and LaRue also oversaw CREEP's lawyers, including attorney Kenneth Parkinson.
On June 22, 1972, Mitchell fired Liddy. According to a Washington Post story in August 1972, Mitchell (by now in retirement) said he fired Liddy because Liddy refused to answer FBI agents' questions about Watergate.
On June 24, 1972, John Dean turned the contents of E. Howard Hunt's safe -- minus the destroyed notebooks -- over to the FBI. He never mentioned the destroyed evidence.
On June 28, 1972, Acting FBI Director L. Patrick Gray was called to a meeting with White House domestic policy advisor John Ehrlichman and White House counsel John Dean. Ehrlichman gave Gray two sets of documents taken from E. Howard Hunt's safe in the White House. (Neither set of documents had been turned over to the FBI on June 24.) One set of documents contained Hunt's faked State Department cables implicating President Kennedy in the murder of Ngo Dinh Diem. The other set of documents contained evidence of an embarrassing nature to Senator Edward M. Kennedy. Ehrlichman told Gray that Dean had taken the files from Hunt's safe, and that Gray should make sure the documents "never see the light of day." Gray kept the files at his home until Christmas Day 1972. Then he burned them -- destroying evidence and obstructing justice.
On July 1, 1972, John Mitchell resigned as chairman of CREEP, ostensibly because his wife wanted him to. He was replaced by Clark MacGregor, a former Republican representative from Minnesota who had retired and then signed on to be Nixon's chief aide for congressional relations.
In early July 1972, Hugh Sloan, a former scheduling aide in the Nixon White House who had become CREEP's treasurer, resigned his position "for personal reasons." Sloan had been pressured by his wife to leave after he revealed to her that CREEP higher-ups had created a secret, illegal slush fund for use in political dirty-tricks campaigns. He was replaced by Paul E. Barrick. Shortly after Sloan's resignation, the slush-fund was moved from CREEP finance chairman Maurice Stans' office to Fred LaRue's office in the CREEP director's suite. Stans approved the transfer of the fund as well as an $80,000 hush-money payment to the Watergate burglars. The same day, another $350,000 in CREEP funds was transferred from an Alexandria, Va., safe-deposit box and given to the burglars to keep them quiet.
On July 7, 1972, E. Howard Hunt "came in from the cold" and turned himself in to the FBI. Walter O. Bittman, Hunt's attorney, received $25,000 in cash in a brown paper envelope in order to take the case. Bittman never said who gave him the cash, but indicated it came from CREEP.
On August 1, 1972, the Washington Post reported that a $25,000 cashier's check made out to the Nixon re-election campaign had been found in the bank account of Watergate burglar Bernard Barker by Miami district attorney Martin Dardis. Barker's account also held four other cashier's checks totaling $89,000, all four drawn on a Mexico City bank. Dardis, who was running for re-election and looking for a scandal to boost his chances, had been investigating whether Florida law had been broken by Cuban nationals assisting the Watergate burglars. The Miami investigators subpoenaed Barker's bank accounts as part of their investigation and discovered the checks. The $25,000 check was made out to Kenneth H. Dahlberg, the Midwest finance chairman for the Nixon re-election bid. Dahlberg said he had turned the check over to either John Mitchell or Maurice Stans at CREEP.
On August 16, 1972, CREEP chairman Clark MacGregor held a press conference in which he claimed G. Gordon Liddy mis-used a $100,000 cash fund (designated for security at the GOP convention) to fund the Watergate burglary.
On August 22, 1972, the Washington Post reported that the General Accounting Office (GAO), the investigative arm of the Congress and the agency charged with maintaining reports about campaign finances under the new federal campaign finance law, found that CREEP had mis-used at least $500,000 in campaign funds. The same day, Judge Charles Richey, who was presiding over the DNC's $1 million lawsuit against CREEP, shocked court observers by sealing all the pretrial testimony in the case until the suit had been decided. Judge Richey phoned Carl Bernstein later that night to adamantly deny that he had been approached by anyone from CREEP. Bernstein was dumbstruck; he had never met nor ever contacted Judge Richey.
On August 26, 1972, the Washington Post reported that the GAO had uncovered an additional $350,000 in illegal cash funds maintained by CREEP. The Post also reported on the Mexican money-laundering scheme set up by CREEP finance chairman Stans, and that more than $750,000 in additional money (raised exclusively in the Southwest) had also been laundered through Mexico.
On August 29, 1972, President Richard Nixon held his first press conference of the year. Nixon admitted that there had been "technical violations" of the new campaign finance law, but asserted (without any evidence) that the Democrats had also violated the law. Nixon also claimed that White House counsel John Dean had conducted an investigation into the Watergate matter (Nixon called this "the Dean report") and found that no one from the White House was involved. In fact, Dean had not discussed Watergate at all with the President and had made no report. Dean had conducted an investigation, but it had been designed to provide Nixon with the facts regarding the role Nixon's aides had played in the break-in. In other words, the "Dean report" was designed to be the foundation for the cover-up, not an attempt to expose it.
On August 30, 1972, the Washington Post reported that Watergate burglar Bernard Barker had told friends that "someone" was paying his legal bills. It was the first public acknowledgement that illegal cash payments were being made to the Watergate burglars.
In early September 1972, the FBI purposefully limited its investigation of the Watergate break-in by refusing to ask witnesses and others obvious questions about motive or obvious questions of fact, asking vague questions that could be easily evaded, and not following up on leads. Around the same time, CREEP chairman Clark MacGregor called Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee to complain about visits Woodward and Bernstein made to CREEP employees. MacGregor claimed the reporters were "harassing" CREEP employees.
On September 15, 1972, a federal grand jury handed down indictments against the five Watergate burglars, E. Howard Hunt, and G. Gordon Liddy. The indictments were narrow, accusing the men of eight counts each of conspiracy, wiretapping, and burglary. There was nothing in the indictments of Hunt and Liddy about bribery payments from CREEP. That afternoon, President Nixon met with White House counsel John Dean and chief of staff H.R. Haldeman. Nixon told Dean that he approved of the way Dean had "prevented" the indictments from going any higher up the chain of command than Liddy.
On September 18, 1972, the Washington Post reported that CREEP deputy campaign director Jeb Sutart Magruder, Herbert L. "Bart" Porter (former White House advance man and now director of scheduling at CREEP), and G. Gordon Liddy had all received illegal hush-money payments of at least $50,000 in connection with the Watergate break-in.
On September 20, 1972, the Washington Post reported that John Mitchell had personally chosen his top aide, Fred LaRue, and CREEP political director Robert Mardian to undertake the destruction of CREEP records immediately following the arrest of the burglars, cleansing CREEP files long before the FBI began its investigation. The Post reported that CREEP personnel director Robert Odle had also been involved. Vanished records included wiretap memos, papers indicating which individuals had received slush-fund payments, and ledger books containing the names of illegal campaign donors. The Post's article claimed that Mardian, LaRue, and Odle had counseled campaign workers to not talk about certain aspects of the bugging and money opeatioins, and had suggested specific responses to FBI investigators' questions. Finally, the Post reported that many campaign workers had been promoted after hiding evidence; others had been interrogated and reprimanded after meeting with reporters.
On September 29, 1972, the Washington Post reported that, while serving as Attorney General, John Mitchell had secretly controlled the illegal CREEP fund used to finance dirty-tricks operations against the Democrats. Mitchell's control of the political party's fund was in direct violation of federal law. When read the opening paragraphs of the story, Mitchell warned that "Katie Graham is going to get her tit caught in a wringer" -- one of the most notorious political comments of all time.
On October 5, 1972, the Los Angeles Times ran a lengthy interview with Alfred C. Baldwin III, a lawyer and former FBI agent who had been involved with the bugging of the DNC and the second burglary attempt. Baldwin admitted it was he who had served as lookout both times in the Howard Johnson hotel across the street from the Watergate.
On October 10, 1972, the Washington Post reported that the FBI had established that the Watergate break-in stemmed from a massive campaign of political spying and sabotage conducted on behalf of the Nixon re-election effort. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal campaign funds had been expended to pay for the campaign aimed at subverting the American electoral process. Damaging letters had been forged; false and manufactured items had been given to the press; campaign schedules had been tampered with and thrown into disarray; confidential campaign files had been stolen; provocateurs had been planted inside campaigns; false campaign literature had been distributed; events had been cancelled without authorization; outrageous calls to voters were made on behalf of campaigns; campaign officials had been impersonated; and fake appointments were set up and then "skipped" to anger supportive constituent groups.
The article also reported that Ken Clawson, a former Washington Post reporter and new director of communications for the Nixon White House, had written the notorious "Canuck letter." The letter was allegedly from a man from Florida who claimed that the campaign of Senator Edmund Muskie (D-Maine) had called French-Americans living in New Hampshire by the derogatory term "Canucks." The letter had been published by the Manchester Union-Leader, an ultra-conservative newspaper, on February 24, 1971 -- two days before Muskie was due to campaign in New Hampshire. On February 25, the Union-Leader published accusations that Muskie's wife swore, smoked, and was an alcoholic. In a near-blizzard on February 26, Muskie held an impromptu outdoor press conference in which he angrily denied both the Canuck Letter and the accusations against his wife. Then Muskie broke down in tears. The press conference, which made Muskie look weak and like someone who cracked under pressure, doomed the Muskie campaign.
On October 11, 1972, the Washington Post reported on 10 documented cases of sabotage against the McGovern campaign, examples which seriously undermined the democratic process. The same day, E. Howard Hunt filed a motion asking for return of personal items left at the White House. Contained in Hunt's motion was a request for the two notebooks. This was the first the FBI had heard about any notebooks (which Dean had already destroyed).
On October 12, 1972, the Washington Post reported on additional attempts to sabotage the Muskie campaign in early 1971. The illegal sabotage efforts included: use of Muskie Senate stationary to mail damaging and false information about Senator Edward M. Kennedy to Democratic members of Congress; sending unordered liquor, flowers, pizzas, cakes, and entertainers to a Muskie fund-raiser; allegations of sexual misconduct against Senator Hubert Humphrey and Senator Henry M. Jackson on fake Muskie campaign letterhead; inflammatory, racist calls in the dead of night to voters in New Hampshire; and theft of polling data.
On October 15, 1972, the Washington Post reported that White House appointments secretary Dwight Chapin had been Donald Segretti's contact in the Nixon campaign. And although the Justice Department knew about the connection between the White House and the dirty-tricks conspiracy, it had not followed up on the leads after new Attorney General Richard Kleindeinst had ordered the FBI not to. The article also said that Segretti had been paid a $20,000-a-year salary (almost $110,000 a year in 2013 dollars), and that his contact was a lawyer who was a highly-placed friend of the president.
On October 16, 1972, Time magazine reported that Dwight Chapin had actually hired Segretti, not just been his contact. Also implicated in Segretti's employment was Gordon Strachan, H.R. Haldeman's aide. Strachan, too, was a college friend of Segretti's. Time reported that the lawyer who paid Segretti was none other than Herb Kalmbach, Nixon's personal lawyer and former CREEP deputy finance chairman.
On October 17, 1972, the Washington Post reported that Kalmbach had personally controlled the illegal campaign slush-fund that had been used to pay for the dirty-tricks conspiracy.
On October 18, 1972, the New York Times reported that it had obtained telephone records showing that Donald Segretti had called Dwight Chapin at the White House as well as at Chapin's home in Bethesda, Maryland. Segretti had also called E. Howard Hunt's office in the White House and Hunt's home at least 21 different times.
On October 24, 1972, the Washington Post reported that H.R. Haldeman, Nixon's chief of staff, had been named in secret grand-jury testimony as one of the persons who controlled CREEP's dirty-tricks slush-fund. The Post story was wrong: Haldeman did control the fund, but he was never named in grand-jury testimony. Nixon was able to deny the Post's story outright, damaging the Post's reputation and forcing Post editor Ben Bradlee to rein in his reporters -- hindering their investigation.
On October 26, 1972, the New York Times reported that the size of the CREEP slush-fund was far larger than anyone knew, more than $900,000 (more than $5 million in 2013 dollars).
On October 29, 1972, Time magazine reported that Dwight Chapin had admitted to FBI agents that he had hired Donald Segretti to disrupt the Democratic campaign, and that Segretti's pay had been set by Herb Kalmbach. Kalmbach, for his part, admitted to having had a hand in paying Segretti more than $35,000 (more than $195,000 in 2013 dollars).
On October 30, 1972, the Washington Post corrected its October 24 story, but stuck by its claim that Haldeman had controlled the fund.
On November 11, 1972, Richard M. Nixon was reelected in one of the largest landslides in American political history, taking 61 percent of the vote against Senator George McGovern (D-S.D.).
On December 8, 1972, the Washington Post reported that H.R. Haldeman had operated the secret CREEP fund through his subordinates: CREEP deputy campaign director Jeb Stuart Magruder, CREEP finance counsel G. Gordon Liddy, CREEP scheduling secretary Bart Porter, and Herb Kalmbach, Nixon's personal lawyer and CREEP deputy finance chairman. For their role in helping cover up the burglary, all four had received large payments from the illegal slush-fund. The same day, Dorothy Hunt -- wife of E. Howard Hunt -- died when her United Airlines plane crashed in a Chicago suburb. Dorothy Hunt's purse contained $10,585 in cash. (Although no one ever established where the money came from, it is assumed it was part of a payment from CREEP to Hunt and his family.) Shortly thereafter, John Ehrlichman met with John Dean and told him that President Nixon had approved clemency for H.R. Haldeman.
On December 19, 1972, Judge John J. Sirica, who was overseeing the trial of the five Watergate burglars, jailed the Los Angeles Times' Washington bureau chief for refusing to hand over tapes and transcripts of Alfred C. Baldwin's interview with the Times from October 5, 1972. After several hours in jail, the bureau chief was released by an appellate court pending further review.
On December 22, 1972, Alfred Baldwin voluntarily released his copy of the interview tapes to Judge Sirica.
On December 23, 1972, the Washington Post reported that Watergate burglar James McCord had paid for bugging equipment with $3,500 in $100 bills, and had actually left his CREEP calling card behind.
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The trial of the Watergate burglars occurred in January 1973. Barker, Gonzalez, Martinez, and Sturgis plead guilty. Liddy and McCord were convicted of burglarly, conspiracy, and illegal wiretapping. On February 7, the Senate voted 77-to-0 to create the Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities (the "Watergate Committee"). Senator Sam Ervin (D-North Carolina) was named chairman, and Senator Howard Baker (R-Tennessee) was named vice-chairman. One of the staff counsel was future actor and senator Fred Thompson.
On March 19, 1973, James McCord wrote a letter to Judge Sirica claiming the other burglars had plead guilty under duress. McCord claimed many other White House staff were involved in the Watergate break-in and cover-up, including White House counsel John Dean and former attorney general John Mitchell. McCord's letter, which Sirica made public immediately, significantly widened the Watergate investigation.
On April 3, John Dean began cooperating with prosecutors. Although Nixon had asked him to write a report on the cover-up in mid-April, Nixon fired Dean on April 30 after being convinced that Dean was working with the prosecution. The same day, Nixon announced he had accepted the resignation of Haldeman, Erhlichman, and Attorney General Richard Kleindienst. Former EPA head Elliot Richardson was named Acting Attorney General. General Alexander Haig was appointed White House Chief of Staff.
Under pressure from Congress, on May 25 the Justice Department appointed former Solicitor-General Archibald Cox as a special prosecutor for Watergate affairs.
On June 3, the Washington Post reported that John Dean told Watergate prosecutors that he discussed the Watergate cover-up with President Nixon at least 35 times. Ten days later, Watergate prosecutors found a memo addressed to John Ehrlichman describing in detail the plans to burglarize the office of Ellsberg's psychiatrist. On June 25, testifying before the Watergate Committee, John Dean claimed Nixon was involved in the cover-up within days of the burglary. His riveting, seven-hour opening statement was broadcast live on television.
On July 13, former Nixon appointments secretary Alexander P. Butterfield casually told the Senate Watergate Committee that there was a secret taping system in the Oval Office. Ten days later, the Watergate Committee and Archibald Cox demanded that Nixon hand over all tapes from the Oval Office taping system. Nixon refused two days later.
The Watergate Committee sued to obtain the tapes on August 9. Nixon declared in a nationally televised speech on August 15 that the tapes were subjec to "executive privilege" and therefore private. That night, Cox and the Senate Watergate Committee asked the Supreme Court to order Nixon to surrender the tapes. Judge Sirica ordered Nixon to turn over nine tapes for his private perusal on August 29. Nixon appealed Sirica's order, but the Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia upheld Judge Sirica's order on October 12.
On October 19, Nixon suggested a compromise: Senator John Stennis (D-Mississippi), the ultra-conservative, should be permitted to listen to the tapes and prepare summaries for Cox. But Cox rejected the compromise the following day, knowing full well that Stennis was not likely to be honest in his summaries.
On October 20, 1973, the Saturday Night Massacre occured: Furious with Cox's rejection of his compromise, Nixon ordered Attorney General Elliot Richardson to fire Archibald Cox. Richardson refused and resigned in protest. Nixon then ordered Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus to fire Cox. Ruckelshaus refused and was fired by Nixon. Solicitor General Robert Bork, now Acting Attorney General, fired Cox. Bork believed that someone had to do it, before Nixon fired the whole government. Nixon came under immense pressure because of his actions, and released some White House tapes on October 23.
On November 1, Leon Jaworski was named as Watergate Special Prosecutor. During a press conference on November 17, Nixon famously declared, "I'm not a crook." Four days later, a mysterious gap of 18-and-a-half minutes was discovered on the tape of the conversation between Nixon and Haldeman on June 20, 1972. Electronics experts reported that the gap was the result of at least 5 separate erasures. Nixon's personal secretary, Rose Mary Woods, denied deliberately erasing the tape.
Throughout 1974, Nixon released edited transcripts of many of the White House tapes, but these were repeatedly rejected by Jaworski and the Senate Watergate Committee as inadquate. The public was shocked at the foul language used by Nixon and his aides, by their venal approach to power, and by their cavalier attitude toward the law. The term "expletive deleted" entered the language. On February 6, 1974, the House of Representatives authorized the House Judiciary Committee to determine if grounds for impeachment existed. On March 1, Nixon was listed as an unindicted co-conspirator in an indictment against seven former presidential aides.
On July 24, 1974, the Supreme Court, unanimously voted 8-to-0 in United States v. Nixon, 418 U.S. 683 (1974), to order Nixon to make all the White House tapes available to Watergate prosecutors. Although Nixon briefly considered refusing to honor the Court's order, Attorney General William B. Saxbe -- horrified at Nixon's suggestion -- begged the president to reconsider. Nixon agreed to start turning over the tapes in batches. From July 27 to July 30, the House Judiciary Committee voted to approve three articles of impeachment against Nixon. Eleven Republicans declined to approve the articles of impeachment.
"The Smoking Gun": On August 5, Nixon released transcripts of three conversations with Haldeman that occurred six days after the Watergate break-in. The transcripts prove that Nixon ordered a cover-up. The June 23, 1972, tape becomes known as "The Smoking Gun" because it reveals that Nixon ordered the FBI to abandon its investigation, and that Nixon knew of the involvement of White House officials and CREEP in the bugging, dirty tricks campaign, smear efforts, and more. That night, the eleven Republicans said they would change their votes and ask for impeachment.
On August 7, Senators Barry Goldwater and Hugh Scott and Representative John Rhodes met with Nixon. They told him there was no chance of avoiding impeachment in the House, and that avoiding conviction in the Senate was "gloomy".
On the evening of August 8, Nixon announced in a nationally televised address that he would resign the next day.
On August 9, Nixon delivered a farewell address to the White House staff at 9:32 AM, nearly breaking down several times. He departed the White House by helicopter at 10:00 AM. He reached Andrews Air Force Base at 10:09 AM, and Air Force One lifted off for California at 10:17 AM. Nixon's letter of resignation was delivered by Alexander Haig to Secretary of State Henry Kissinger at 11:35 AM. Gerald Ford became the 38th president immediately after Kissinger initialed the letter, but Ford was not sworn in until 12:05 PM. (Air Force One's call sign changed to Special Air Mission 27000 en route, due to Nixon's resignation.)
On September 8, President Ford unexpectedly granted a "full free and absolute" pardon to Richard M. Nixon for "all offenses against the United States" committed between January 20, 1969 and August 9, 1974.