Photo of the Day

Frank Wills, the security guard who discovered the now infamous Watergate break-in, is seen in this May 16, 1973, file photo. (AP Photo, file)

Next Time There Maybe No Watchman in the Night

On August 9, 1974, Richard Nixon resigned as President of the United States. No president had done this before; none have done it since. But it may never have happened at all if a security guard named Frank Wills hadn’t found a suspicious piece of tape.

“Watergate” is a general term used to describe a complex web of political scandals between 1972 and 1974. The word specifically refers to the Watergate Hotel in Washington D.C. whilst it is now a term synonymous with corruption and scandal, in 1972 the Watergate was one of Washington’s plushest hotels. It also houses office complexes and residential apartments.

In more recent times, Watergate has been home to former Senators and was once the place where Monica Lewinsky laid low, as the liaison that led to President Bill Clinton’s impeachment became news. It was here that the Watergate Burglars broke into the Democratic Party’s National Committee offices on June 17, 1972.

If it had not been for the alert actions of Frank Wills, a security guard, the scandal may never have erupted.

The story of Watergate has an intriguing historical and political background, arising out of political events of the 1960s such as Vietnam, and the publication of the Pentagon Papers in 1970. But the chronology of the scandal really begins during 1972, when the burglars were arrested. By 1973, Nixon had been re-elected, but the storm clouds were building. By early 1974, the nation was consumed by Watergate.

Richard Nixon announces his resignation from the White House

Richard Milhous Nixon is one of the most fascinating political figures of the 20th Century. His long political career began in 1947 when he was elected to the House of Representatives. By 1952, Nixon had been chosen as Dwight Eisenhower’s vice-presidential running mate, but not before he was embroiled in a scandal that led to the infamous Checkers Speech.

Nixon served as Vice-President for eight years and then lost the 1960 election to John F. Kennedy. He recovered from political defeat to be chosen again as the Republican Party’s candidate at the 1968 election. Following a year of turmoil, including two political assassinations, Nixon became the nation’s 37th President on January 20, 1969. Later that year, he delivered his ‘Silent Majority’ speech on the Vietnam War, articulating his belief that the bulk of the American people supported his policies and programs. He was vindicated by winning a landslide re-election. He was sworn in for a second term in January 1973.

Nixon made three major speeches on the Watergate scandal during 1973 and 1974. The first was on April 30, 1973, in which he announced the departure of Dean, Haldeman and Ehrlichman. A more defiant speech was delivered on August 15, 1973. Perhaps the politically most difficult speech was the one on April 29, 1974, in which Nixon released partial transcripts of the White House tapes.

The Watergate scandal began early in the morning of June 17, 1972, when several burglars were arrested in the office of the Democratic National Committee, located in the Watergate complex of buildings in Washington, D.C. This was no ordinary robbery: The Prowlers were connected to President Richard Nixon’s re-election campaign, and they had been caught wiretapping phones and stealing documents. Nixon took aggressive steps to cover up the crime afterwards, and in August 1974, after his role in the conspiracy was revealed, Nixon resigned. The Watergate scandal changed American politics forever, leading many Americans to question their leaders and think more critically about the presidency.

The origins of the Watergate break-in lay in the hostile political climate of the time. By 1972, when Republican President Richard M. Nixon was running for re-election, the United States was embroiled in the Vietnam War, and the country was deeply divided.

A forceful presidential campaign, therefore, seemed essential to the president and some of his key advisers. Their aggressive tactics included what turned out to be illegal espionage. In May 1972, as evidence would later show, members of Nixon’s Committee to Re-Elect the President (known derisively as CREEP) broke into the Democratic National Committee’s Watergate headquarters, stole copies of top-secret documents and bugged the office’s phones.

Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein deserve a great deal of the credit for uncovering the details of the Watergate scandal. Their reporting won them a Pulitzer Prize and was the basis for their best-selling book “All the President’s Men.” Much of their information came from an anonymous whistleblower they called Deep Throat, who in 2005 was revealed to be W. Mark Felt, a former associate director of the FBI.

The wiretaps failed to work properly, however, so on June 17 a group of five men returned to the Watergate building. As the prowlers were preparing to break into the office with a new microphone, a security guard noticed someone had taped over several of the building’s door locks. The guard called the police, who arrived just in time to catch the spies red-handed.

It was not immediately clear that the burglars were connected to the president, though suspicions were raised when detectives found copies of the re-election committee’s White House phone number among the burglars’ belongings.

In August, Nixon gave a speech in which he swore that his White House staff was not involved in the break-in. Most voters believed him, and in November 1972 the president was re-elected in a landslide victory.

Wills’ note in his log book: ‘Call police found tape on Doore’. This page can now be found in the American National Archives.

The semi-literate scrawl on Page 48 of a crumpled foolscap ledger reads simply “1.47am Call police found tape on Door.” It is now preserved as a crucial historical document in America’s National Archives, alongside the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. But the man who penned it, Frank Wills, died in poverty at the age of 52.

Two years before Nixon’s resignation – June 17, 1972 – and Frank Wills is doing the night shift at the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C. He has just finished his first round and has decided to go across the road for an orange juice.

Frank Wills was the security guard who alerted the police to a possible break-in at the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C. His actions eventually led to the discovery of the truth about the Watergate scandal and led to the resignation of President Richard M. Nixon in 1974.

Frank Wills was born in Savannah, Georgia. His parents separated when he was a child and he was primarily raised by his mother, Margie.  After dropping out of high school in eleventh grade, Wills studied heavy machine operations in Battle Creek, Michigan and he earned his equivalency degree from the Job Corps. He migrated north and found an assembly-line job working for Ford in Detroit, Michigan. He later had to give up his assembly-line job due to health issues, namely asthma. Wills then travelled to Washington D.C. and worked at a few hotels before landing a job as a security guard at the Watergate hotel.

It was Frank who precipitated the 1972 Watergate crisis and America’s first presidential resignation. His involvement brought him brief fame, including a small part in the film All The President’s Men, but eventually left him bitter and disillusioned. “I was treated like a criminal myself,” he commented a few years ago. “I got nothing for what I did and I completely lost my faith in the political system.”

As a teenager, Wills had moved from his native South Carolina to work at the Chrysler factory in Detroit, but Chrysler made him redundant during the 1968 recession. At the suggestion of fellow workers, Wills decamped to Washington, but as a 21-year-old black he found it hard to scrape a living when dozens of major cities, including the capital, were erupting in race riots which petrified white employers. Yet by the summer of 1972, he had secured a steady job as a security guard at the Watergate office complex, though only at the statutory minimum wage.

On Saturday, June 17, he came on duty at midnight and carried out his first check of the offices, starting in the basement and working methodically up to the 11th floor. It was tedious work, trying the handle of each office door to confirm it was properly secured. It was also a sticky night and, when he had finished his first round, Wills went for an orange juice at the Howard Johnson motel across the road.

As he was leaving by the Watergate basement door he found its catch taped back. He stripped off the grey gaffer tape, explaining later that, “A lot of times we’d have engineers doing work late at night. They’d place something in the door because they’d be coming right back so I really didn’t pay much attention to it.”

Frank Wills Died September 27, 2000, Augusta, Georgia, United States

Thinking some worker had left it to make it easier to get in and out, he removed it. However, before he returned to the security office after his break, he decided to double-check the door. Finding the catch retaped in exactly the same way, he made his historic phone call to the police.

They locked the doors, turned off the elevators, and started checking darkened offices. About 2 a.m., at the sixth-floor headquarters of the Democratic National Committee, they found five men: Bernard L. Barker, Virgilio Gonzales, Eugenio Martinez, James W. McCord Jr. and Frank Sturgis.

As Frank put it in a 1997 interview with The Florida Times-Union, ”When we turned the lights on, one person, then two persons, then three persons came out, and on down the line.”

On the sixth floor of the building, the police discovered James McCord and four companions hiding inside the offices of the Democratic National Committee, in the throes of what President Nixon’s spokesman initially dismissed as “a third-rate burglary”. As the political storm developed, Wills tried to use his unexpected fame to win a rise for himself and better working conditions for his fellow security men.

The bargaining power of one young black has never been high in the US, and Wills soon found himself out of work. Though he received an award from the Democratic National Committee for his “unique role in the history of the nation”, it brought him no practical benefit. Not the least of his problems was his capacity to antagonise successive employers by absenting himself to give media interviews.

However, he firmly believed that his difficulty in finding work came from being “blacklisted”. He alleged that one Washington University had refused to hire him lest it lose federal funds (though Georgetown University did later recruit him to its security staff).

As he faded from the public scene, Wills’ problems multiplied. He drifted constantly between Washington and his mother’s home in North Augusta, South Carolina, finding a succession of short-lived and low-paid jobs. In 1983, he was convicted of shoplifting in Georgia, though he always maintained his innocence. The one beneficial outcome of the case was that it led the comedian Dick Gregory to hire Wills to promote a health supplement, a role which took him to live in the Bahamas.

In 1990, however, he had to return to South Carolina to care for his mother, by then seriously ill after a stroke. Both had to subsist on the £75 a week she received in social security payments. When she died in 1992, Wills was unable to meet the funeral costs and had to donate her body for medical research.

From then on he got by doing odd jobs for neighbours and caring for his aunt, also a stroke victim. In early 2000 he was found to have an inoperable brain tumour. His daughter Angel survives him.

Interviewed by The Washington Star-News on the day Nixon resigned, Mr Wills said, ”We treat the president like a king when he should be a man for all the people.”

He complained that in Nixon’s resignation speech the night before, the president failed to describe his role in the cover-up. ”I think he should have been a little more specific,” Mr. Wills said.

The New York Times suggests that Wills’ actions were best summed up by a Democratic congressman called James Mann during a 1974 vote for Nixon’s impeachment: ‘If there is no accountability, another president will feel free to do as he chooses. But the next time there may be no watchman in the night.’

So the next time a celebrity scandal is given a ‘-gate’ suffix, think of Frank Wills.

Frank Wills, the night watchman who discovered the 1972 Watergate burglary, which ultimately led to President Richard M. Nixon’s resignation.

The raid’s mission was to gather political intelligence that would aid President Nixon in his bid to continue in office. As the investigation of the break-in broadened, it revealed a pattern of unlawful activity within the Nixon presidency that collectively became known as “Watergate” and ultimately forced his resignation two years later.

The trial of the Watergate burglars began in early February 1973. In addition to the five men caught in the act, their managers – G. Gordon Liddy and James W. McCord were also indicted. The burglars pled guilty while their managers were convicted after three weeks of testimony.

A few days after the trial, the Senate voted unanimously to establish a committee to investigate the scandal. The Senate Watergate Committee began its nationally televised hearings on May 17, 1973. Witnesses were called and testimony was given before a live, national audience. In a separate action, a day after the Senate began its hearings, Archibald Cox was appointed by the nation’s Attorney General as Special Prosecutor to investigate the scandal. Events now took a course of their own.

The bombshell that destroyed Nixon’s presidency exploded in testimony before the Senate committee on July 16, 1973. When asked, Secret Service agent Alexander Butterfield confirmed that conversations in the president’s offices were routinely and secretly tape recorded. The availability of an audio record of White House discussions was revealed.

The Special Prosecutor immediately subpoenaed the tapes of nine presidential meetings. Citing executive privilege, President Nixon refused to release them. The dispute was taken to the Federal Court system for a resolution and finally made its way to the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, Congress began impeachment action.

On July 24, 1974, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Nixon must release the tapes. Within a week, the House Judiciary Committee passed three articles of impeachment.

It later came to light that Nixon was not being truthful. A few days after the break-in, for instance, he arranged to provide hundreds of thousands of dollars in “hush money” to the burglars.

Then, Nixon and his aides hatched a plan to instruct the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to impede the FBI’s investigation of the crime. This was a more serious crime than the break-in: It was an abuse of presidential power and a deliberate obstruction of justice.

Meanwhile, seven conspirators were indicted on charges related to the Watergate affair. At the urging of Nixon’s aides, five pleaded guilty to avoid trial; the other two were convicted in January 1973.

Baltimore Sun Front Page – August 9. 1974 – Nixon Resigns

By that time, a growing handful of people—including Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, trial judge John J. Sirica and members of a Senate investigating committee—had begun to suspect that there was a larger scheme afoot. At the same time, some of the conspirators began to crack under the pressure of the cover-up.

A handful of Nixon’s aides, including White House counsel John Dean, testified before a grand jury about the president’s crimes; they also testified that Nixon had secretly taped every conversation that took place in the Oval Office. If prosecutors could get their hands on those tapes, they would have proof of the president’s guilt.

Nixon struggled to protect the tapes during the summer and fall of 1973. His lawyers argued that the president’s executive privilege allowed him to keep the tapes to himself, but Judge Sirica, the Senate committee and an independent special prosecutor named Archibald Cox were all determined to obtain them.

Initial investigations of Watergate were heavily influenced by the media, particularly the work of two reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, along with their mysterious informant, Deep Throat.

The two men slowly connected the burglary and other political crimes to the re-election campaign of President Richard Nixon. In 1974, with Nixon still in office, they published their book. In it, they write of their investigation, their scoops and their failings. At one point, the duo say that Woodward was considered such a poor writer that it was rumored English wasn’t his first language. (Woodward takes credit for writing that line.)

The book is less about Nixon than about two reporters searching for truth — it’s a detective story. Bernstein says they had little choice about that.

They’d initially planned to write a book about the facts of Watergate, worried that the truth would never be known. But as they neared publication, the true story was finally coming out in congressional hearings. The two men who largely broke the story had little more to say, except their own narrative.

“One of the rules of writing is: Write what you know,” Bernstein says.

Woodward says that the key to their reporting was the way they approached conversations with sources.

“This was a strategy that Carl developed: Go see these people at home at night when they’re relaxed, when there are no press people around,” Woodward says. “When the time is limitless to a certain extent and you’re there saying, ‘Help me. I need your help,’ which are the most potent words in journalism. And people will kind of unburden themselves, or at least tell part of the story.”

Over months of reporting, they pieced those partial stories together to reveal the sequence of events — without ever interviewing, or even meeting, the president at the heart of the conspiracy. Even in the years that followed, they never met Nixon.

Both men say that if they had the chance to ask Nixon one question, it would be a single word: “Why?” Why would a president who was heading for re-election anyway go to such extremes to win?

They suggest that Nixon already offered one answer to that question. “He even raises it himself in his farewell from the White House, [which] was so mesmerizing when you watched it,” Bernstein says. “When you let your anger and hate rule you, that’s when you do this terrible thing to yourself.”

“And literally what he said is, ‘Always remember. Others may hate you. But those who hate you don’t win unless you hate them, and then you destroy yourself,’ ” Woodward remembers.

Political investigations began in February 1973 when the Senate established a Committee to investigate the Watergate scandal. The public hearings of the Committee were sensational, including the evidence of John Dean, Nixon’s former White House Counsel. The Committee also uncovered the existence of the secret White House tape recordings, sparking a major political and legal battle between the Congress and the President.

In 1974, the House of Representatives authorised the Judiciary Committee to consider impeachment proceedings against Nixon. The work of this Committee was again the spotlight a quarter of a century later when Bill Clinton was impeached.

Richard Nixon’s Pardon

One of the most controversial episodes of the Watergate scandal, the so-called “Saturday Night Massacre” came on October 20, 1973, when embattled President Richard Nixon fired Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox and accepted the resignations of Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus.

Early in 1974, the cover-up and efforts to impede the Watergate investigation began to unravel. On March 1, a grand jury appointed by a new special prosecutor indicted seven of Nixon’s former aides on various charges related to the Watergate affair. The jury, unsure if they could indict a sitting president, called Nixon an “unindicted co-conspirator.”

In July, the Supreme Court ordered Nixon to turn over the tapes. While the president dragged his feet, the House of Representatives voted to impeach Nixon for obstruction of justice, abuse of power, criminal cover-up and several violations of the Constitution.

The “massacre” stemmed from an inquiry into the notorious June 1972 break-in at the Watergate complex, in which five Nixon operatives were caught trying to bug the Democratic National Committee headquarters. Archibald Cox, a Harvard law professor and former U.S. solicitor general, was tapped to investigate the incident in May 1973. He soon clashed with the White House over Nixon’s refusal to release over 10 hours of secret Oval Office recordings, some of which implicated the president in the break-in. On October 20, 1973, in an unprecedented show of executive power, Nixon ordered Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus to fire Cox, but both men refused and resigned their posts in protest.

Eventually, Nixon agreed to surrender some—but not all—of the tapes.

The role of attorney general then fell to Solicitor General Robert Bork, who reluctantly complied with Nixon’s request and dismissed Cox. Less than a half hour later, the White House dispatched FBI agents to close off the offices of the Special Prosecutor, Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General.

Nixon’s attack on his own Justice Department came with grave consequences. More than 50,000 concerned citizens sent telegrams to Washington, and 21 members of Congress introduced resolutions calling for Nixon’s impeachment. In the face of overwhelming protest, Nixon relented and appointed Leon Jaworski as the new Watergate prosecutor. Jaworski resumed the investigation and eventually secured the release of the Oval Office recordings in July 1974, when the Supreme Court ruled the tapes did not fall under executive privilege. Faced with the so-called “Smoking Gun” of his involvement in Watergate, Nixon resigned the presidency on August 8, 1974.

President Richard Nixon’s resignation announcement came in a televised speech to the nation at 9pm on August 8, 1974.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wM60m7rmvzs]

The Resignation of President Nixon NBC News Coverage

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 Nixon before resignation and full speech, August 8, 1974

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zLHc8NR_v-8]

Finally, on August 5, Nixon released the tapes, which provided undeniable evidence of his complicity in the Watergate crimes. In the face of almost certain impeachment by Congress, Nixon resigned in disgrace on August 8 and left office the following day.

“President Nixon looked just awful.”

President Nixon awoke at 7 AM on his final day in office after a fitful night. Following a light breakfast, he signed his one-sentence letter of resignation and said goodbye to his house staff. Shortly after 9 AM he entered the East Room and made a brief farewell address to an overflow crowd of White House staff and Cabinet members. He then joined Vice President (now President) Ford for a walk across the South Lawn to a helicopter that would whisk him into history. George Bush (later Vice President and then President) was the Chairman of the Republican Party. He attended Nixon’s farewell address and kept a diary of the experience:

There is no way to really describe the emotion of the day. Bar [Bush’s wife, Barbara] and I went down and had breakfast at the White House. Dean and Pat Burch and the Buchanans were there in the Conference Mess. There was an aura of sadness like somebody died. Grief. Saw Tricia and Eddie Cox [President Nixon’s daughter and her husband] in the Rose Garden – talked to them on the way to the ceremony.

President Nixon looked just awful. He used glasses – the first time I ever saw them. Close to breaking down – understandably. Everyone in the room in tears.

The speech was vintage Nixon – a kick or two at the press – enormous strains. One couldn’t help but look at the family and the whole thing and think of his accomplishments and then think of the shame and wonder kind of man is this really. No morality – kicking his friends in those tapes – all of them. Gratuitous abuse. Caring for no one yet doing so much. When he used the word ‘plumbers’ [in his speech] meaning it [as] ‘laboring with his hands’, the connotation was a shock to me.

I remember Lt. Col. Brennan who has been with him so long – Marine – standing proudly, but with tears running down his face. Rabbi Korff, a brand new friend on the scene who told Kendall he wanted to start a Support for Ford Committee. Thrilled with the limelight. Coming in and standing around and looking for special attention, ending up sitting next to the Cabinet. People who have laboured next to Nixon’s side forever are not invited. It’s weird.

The Nixon speech was masterful. In spite of his inability to totally resist a dig at the press, that argument about hating – only if you hate do you join the haters

We walked through the bottom lobby to go out. After the Ford swearing-in, many of the pictures were changed with a great emphasis on the new President. We went over and hung around waiting for the swearing in of Ford.

And then the whole mood changed. It was quiet, respectful, sorrowful, but in one sense, upbeat. The music and the band seemed cheerier, the talking and babbling of voices after Ford’s fantastic speech, crowds of friends, indeed a new spirit, a new lift. I walked through the line and the President was warm and friendly, kissing the wives, telling Bar he appreciated my job, and on and on. It was much more relaxed. There, of course, were a lot of people that didn’t know what they were going to do. There was great turmoil in that sense.

I went back to the National Committee and addressed them. I tried to identify with the feelings I am sure they all felt – of betrayal and distrust and yet pride. I told them we had been through the toughest year and a half in history and yet I now felt we were coming on an optimistic period. I told them that the President asked me to stay on. All in all it was a pretty good meeting although I felt drained emotionally and tired.”

Six weeks later, after Vice President Gerald Ford was sworn in as president, he pardoned Nixon for any crimes he had committed while in office. Some of Nixon’s aides were not so lucky: They were convicted of very serious offences and sent to federal prison. Nixon himself never admitted to any criminal wrongdoing, though he did acknowledge using poor judgment.

His abuse of presidential power had a long-lasting effect on American political life, creating an atmosphere of cynicism and distrust. While many Americans had been deeply dismayed by the outcome of the Vietnam War, and saddened by the assassinations of Robert F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King and other leaders, Watergate added further disappointment to a national climate already soured by the difficulties and losses of the previous decade.

Following his resignation, Nixon devoted himself to rehabilitating his public reputation. He wrote a number of books and travelled widely.

Watergate is now an all-encompassing term used to refer to:

  • political burglary
  • bribery
  • extortion
  • phone tapping
  • conspiracy
  • obstruction of justice
  • destruction of evidence
  • tax fraud
  • illegal use of government agencies such as the CIA and the FBI
  • illegal campaign contributions
  • use of public money for private purposes

Most of all, Watergate is synonymous with abuse of power.

A Brief Chronology of Watergate

1968

  • November 1968: Richard Milhous Nixon, the 55-year-old former vice president who lost the presidency for the Republicans in 1960, reclaims it by defeating Hubert Humphrey in one of the closest elections in U.S. history.

1970

  • July 23, 1970: Nixon approves a plan for greatly expanding domestic intelligence-gathering by the FBI, CIA and other agencies. He has second thoughts a few days later and rescinds his approval.

1971

  • June 13, 1971: The New York Times begins publishing the Pentagon Papers – the Defense Department’s secret history of the Vietnam War. The Washington Post will begin publishing the papers later in the week.
  • September 9, 1971: The White House “plumbers” unit – named for their orders to plug leaks in the administration – burglarizes a psychiatrist’s office to find files on Daniel Ellsberg, the former defence analyst who leaked the Pentagon Papers.

1972

  • June 17, 1972: Five men, one of whom says he used to work for the CIA, 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: A GOP security aide is among the Watergate burglars, The Washington Post reports. Former attorney general John Mitchell, head of the Nixon reelection campaign, denies any link to the operation.
  • August 1, 1972: A $25,000 cashier’s check, apparently earmarked for the Nixon campaign, wound up in the bank account of a Watergate burglar, The Washington Post reports.
  • September 29, 1972: John Mitchell, while serving as attorney general, controlled a secret Republican fund used to finance widespread intelligence-gathering operations against the Democrats, The Post reports.
  • October 10, 1972: 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, The Post reports.
  • November 11, 1972: Nixon is reelected in one of the largest landslides in American political history, taking more than 60 percent of the vote and crushing the Democratic nominee, Sen. George McGovern of South Dakota.

1973

  • 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, but mysteries remain.
  • 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 its nationally televised hearings. Attorney General-designate Elliot Richardson taps former solicitor general Archibald Cox as the Justice Department’s special prosecutor for Watergate.
  • June 3, 1973: John Dean has told Watergate investigators that he discussed the Watergate cover-up with President Nixon at least 35 times, The Post reports.
  • June 13, 1973: Watergate prosecutors find a memo addressed to John Ehrlichman describing in detail the plans to burglarize the office of Pentagon Papers defendant Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist, The Post reports.
  • July 13, 1973: Alexander Butterfield, former presidential appointments secretary, reveals in congressional testimony that since 1971 Nixon had recorded all conversations and telephone calls in his offices.
  • July 18, 1973: Nixon reportedly orders the White House taping system disconnected.
  • July 23, 1973: Nixon refuses to turn over the presidential tape recordings to the Senate Watergate committee or the special prosecutor.
  • October 20, 1973: Saturday Night Massacre: Nixon fires Archibald Cox and abolishes the office of the special prosecutor. Attorney General Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William D. Ruckelshaus resign. Pressure for impeachment mounts in Congress.
  • November 17, 1973: Nixon declares, “I’m not a crook,” maintaining his innocence in the Watergate case.
  • December 7, 1973: The White House can’t explain an 18 1/2 -minute gap in one of the subpoenaed tapes. Chief of staff Alexander Haig says one theory is that “some sinister force” erased the segment.

1974

  • April 30, 1974: The White House releases more than 1,200 pages of edited transcripts of the Nixon tapes to the House Judiciary Committee, but the committee insists that the tapes themselves must be turned over.
  • July 24, 1974: The Supreme Court rules unanimously that Nixon must turn over the tape recordings of 64 White House conversations, rejecting the president’s claims of executive privilege.
  • July 27, 1974: House Judiciary Committee passes the first of three articles of impeachment, charging obstruction of justice.
  • August 8, 1974: Richard Nixon becomes the first U.S. president to resign. Vice President Gerald R. Ford assumes the country’s highest office. He will later pardon Nixon of all charges related to the Watergate case.

Watergate Scandal – United States History

Bob Woodward who exposed Watergate scandal reveals story of …

Watergate’s Last Chapter | Vanity Fair

The Watergate Scandal, 45 Years Later – Biography.com

Frank Wills (security guard) – Wikipedia

Frank Wills’ Watergate Security Log

Watergate: The Scandal That Brought Down Richard Nixon

The Woodward and Bernstein Watergate Papers – Harry Ransom Center

The Watergate Story – The Washington Post

Watergate Scandal – Facts & Summary – HISTORY.com

Watergate scandal – Wikipedia

40 Years On, Woodward And Bernstein Recall Reporting On Watergate

Watergate journalist Bob Woodward ‘threatened’ by White House …

Wallowing in Watergate – Philip Merrill College of Journalism

The Ballad of a Watergate Security Guard – NYPR Archives … – WNYC

TODAY IN HISTORY: The Watergate Break-in | Don’t Know Much

Frank Wills, 52; Watchman Foiled Watergate Break-In – The New York …

Obituary: Frank Wills | US news | The Guardian

Watergate Scandal Timeline – History on the Net


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