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Over four decades ago, former President Richard Nixon first uttered the now infamous phrase, “I am not a crook”. These are the five little words that momentarily saved the presidency that would soon be brought down. Of course prior to the Nixon’s announcement a series of scandals erupted in Washington D.C.. Burglary, spying, and corruption all set the scene for actions that would eventually demolish the reputation of Republican President Richard Nixon. What is now widely known as the Watergate scandal exposed a complex series of misconduct reaching all the way to the White House itself. The theft and later scandal caused the first and only resignation of a president of the United States and became a nationwide symbol for government corruption. Although Nixon’s innocence has been widely debated for years, by examining evidence from prior, during and after the scandal it is clear that he is of guilt and his impeachment was just.Richard Nixon, born 1913, grew up in the midst of WWI and its aftermath. He lived his teen and early adult years in the era of prohibition. Sneaking around and visiting the infamous 1920’s parties and underground bars, scandal could have easily become second nature to any young person of the time. Seemingly, Nixon stood far from the party scene. He finished third in his high school class and soon after became the student body president at Whittier College. After graduation, he took on law school at Duke University where he became a bar registered lawyer. With his new education, he was quickly hired as an attorney at the office for Price Administration. Here he got his first glimpse into the government system and witnesses the problems of the government bureaucracy(Hay, 2001). After working at the Price Administration office for a short amount of time, Richard Nixon, now twenty-nine, was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Navy. Serving as an aviation ground officer and gaining the rank of lieutenant commander, Nixon was honorably discharged in 1946 (Miller, 2006). Upon his return home, he ran for a seat in the House of Representatives and was elected, beating five-term incumbent Congressman Jerry Voorhis. He continued to serve as a Congressman until 1950 when he was elected into the U.S. Senate. After serving for only two years, he became the running partner of Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Republican presidential candidate in the election of 1952. Becoming the second-youngest vice president at age 40, Nixon served for eight years. Eisenhower suffered a heart-attack during his term so for some time Nixon took over a few presidential duties, possibly spurring him to run for president himself. In the following presidential election of 1960 against John F. Kennedy, Nixon lost in one of the smallest popular vote margins in U.S. history. Soon afterwards, in 1962, Nixon lost the California Governor’s election. Losing the last two elections he ran in, Nixon lost confidence in his political career (Dudley, 2001). He made no efforts to participate in government affairs and returned to his private life with his wife and kids. A whole six years later, he decided to try one more time in the presidential elections. In 1968, Nixon was nominated and elected President of the United States, narrowly defeating Hubert Humphrey. In his first term, he was very successful and was well liked by the American people. He was reelected in the largest margin in U.S. history then four years later. Winning forty-nine out of fifty states, it seems as Nixon should have had no worries concerning his reelection but as time would tell, that was far from the case (Chandler, 2017). Due to Nixon’s concerns about his reelection, he decided he needed a way to get ahead of his opponents. With that in mind, he and his supporters formed the Committee for the Reelection of the President abbreviated CRP, but often mocked by his opponents with the acronym CREEP. Headed by former Attorney General John Mitchell, CREEP was essentially an immense fund raising campaign. Although at the beginning of the organization’s existence they did nothing illegal, they very soon were pushing the limits and at risk of getting themselves in trouble. They would collect as much money as they could but did it before the date that required them to report contributions. By doing this the money could be used for anything and quite possibly was spent on things that they tried to conceal from the public’s eye (Anderson, 2007). One would think that the schemes of CREEP would be discovered and stopped, but even the people meant to maintain justice in the organization were corrupt. James Walter McCord Jr. was the security chief of the association but was later involved, as an electronics expert, in the burglaries of the Watergate scandal (Friedman & Westin, 1974). Despite the support from the voting public and the fundraising done by CREEP, Nixon was still unconfident in the upcoming reelection. Although he would later deny doing so, he pushed his team to do more. Gordon Liddy and Howard Hunt, two of Nixon’s aides, made a plan to wire tap the phones of several democrats in order to discover their plans for getting their party into office. John Mitchell disapproved of the risky and expensive plan and stopped it from being put into action two different times. On a third attempt, the plan to tap the phones of the Democratic National Committee was authorized. Soon after that attempt, five men broke into the Democratic Party’s National Headquarters in the Watergate complex and stole data that would give fire to their campaign. The information they have been seeking was finally attained. Now they just waited in hopes that they would not be caught(Woodward & Bernstein, 1976).Early in the morning on June 17, 1972 the five men who were responsible for the burglary of the Democratic Headquarters were arrested. In their possession police found photos, equipment designed for eavesdropping, and $2,300. The money was likely from the fund that remained unreported. At first, nobody was sure of the men’s reasoning for the break in, but time and investigative efforts revealed their intentions. The Federal Bureau of Investigation traced the five men back to CREEP. Nixon, clearly anxious about the attention brought to his campaign ordered the FBI off of the investigation. He made claims that continuing their search would put the national security at risk. The public became more and more suspicious and interested in the schemes going on behind the White House doors. Washington Post reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward decided they would write a story concerning the Watergate scandal and eventually they made many discoveries (Woodward & Bernstein, 1976). What they found severely incriminated many of Nixon’s aides. The aides helped to finance the sabotage and espionage of hundreds of Democratic Party members. They were also found to be very closely tied to the burglary and concealment of information from the Watergate complex. The spotlight was now on Nixon. Everyone knew he was the brains behind all of the prior scandal. They all awaited to hear what he would say about the mishap. When he finally did, he shockingly took the blame for the events. Still, he did not want to bad publicity, especially with the election getting closer. To avoid the public attention, he hired a special prosecutor, Archibald Cox, to handle the case. Evidence continued to be revealed and Nixon proceeded to cover it up along with his involvement. Even when John Dean, a former aide of Nixon, told the investigators that he worked closely with him on the plan of the burglary and cover up, Nixon still made attempts to hide his involvement (Gray & Schamel, 1987). Nixon’s attempt to cover up the White House’s involvement in the burglary and the events that followed might have saved his reelection campaign, but they did far from saving the term that followed. His cover up attempts may have incriminated him just as much as the actual Watergate crimes. When investigation first began, Nixon authorized the payment of hush money to those who knew about the origin of the break in. He also went to great lengths to rid any individuals who would not cooperative with him from their government job. He fired John Dean because Dean told investigators about the conversations he had with Nixon involving the Watergate complex. Also, when Cox refused to let Nixon not turn in evidence, he ordered him to be fired as well. Because all White House conversations are taped, the court ordered Nixon to turn them over to the FBI (Woodward & Bernstein, 1976). Nixon obviously had spoken about things he did not want to go public. To prevent it from happening, he refused to turn the tapes in and claimed executive privilege. The court was unsatisfied and continued to demand the tapes. Nixon offered to instead hand in summaries of the tapes. Because a summary could easily be tampered with, the court once again refused. Nixon, having no other option, had to hand over the tapes (Dudley, 2001). The public was relieved. They would finally know the who story surrounding their beloved president, but it may have been too soon to breath a sigh of relief.When the tapes were reviewed, it was found that three important conversations were missing. When Nixon was questioned about the missing sections, he claimed that malfunctions caused a failure to record alson with “sinister forces” deleting materials. Clearly, everyone knew something was going on. Nixon made no more attempts to cover up the crime that was now years ago. He handed in the full tapes, which contained him discussing the Watergate burglary and cover up plans. Earlier that year, Congress had taken steps towards impeaching the president. With the tapes handed in, there was more than enough evidence to lock Nixion up. Knowing this, Nixon did not await the outcome of the court’s decision. On August 9, 2974, Richard Nixon became the first, and to this day only, person to resign from the presidential office (Anderson, 2007). America was astonished due to Nixon’s announcement of resignation. The public’s faith in government was at an all time low. The work of many federal agencies were slowed and even halted. The United States needed a hero. Someone to restore their faith in government. Vice-president Gerald Ford took over and attempted to do such things. The may have been to big to fill. Although Ford did his best to do what he thought was right for the nation, he faced much public disagreement. Stunning the population in its entirety, Ford pardoned Nixon on September 8, 1974. The country was in shock. They were prepared for Ford to finish the term just as corrupt as it began. To their delight, he finished the term quietly and wasn’t put in office again. Numerous men faced trials due to their involvement in the scandal. Despite the fact justice was served to most of those involved, the scars of the horrid presidency still ran deep in the hearts of the American people (Miller, 2006). For many years after the appalling presidency ended, Americans were still greatly affected by it. They lacked faith in numerous presidencies post-Watergate. The effects may change the outcome of the polls today. The generations who lived through the events of Watergate greatly thing about corruption when heading to the polls. It also affected the way that presidents went about their duties. It made them avoid the use of executive privilege  because it was so looked down upon in Nixon’s presidency. It defined how far executive privilege extended. Nixon overused the privilege and from that time on it was frowned upon to use in the way that he did. It also has impacted the court system and the way that they interact with presidents. It brought up the question of what acts can be reviewed by the government courts and which acts can’t be. Because of the bickering between Nixon and the courts on the issue, since then much progress has been made in defining the interactions. Although the Watergate scandal happened all those years ago, effects are still regularly witnessed(Chandler, 2017). Despite claims of innocence, Nixon gained and has kept the title of one of the most corrupt presidents this nation has ever seen. Evidence from prior, during and long after the incident has proven his guilt and shown the negative effects the Watergate scandal has brought. Modern day presidents look at this time with a scornful face as the citizens of the United States look to them with hopes to never encounter another time of such disgrace. ReferencesAnderson, D. (2007). Watergate: Scandal in the White House. Minneapolis, Minn.: Compass Point Books.Chandler, J. (2017). Richard Nixon. New York: Britannica Educational Publishing in association with Rosen Educational Services.Dudley, W. (2001). Political scandals: Opposing viewpoints. San Diego, Calif.: Greenhaven Press.Friedman, L., & Westin, A. F. (1974). United States v. Nixon: The President before the Supreme Court. New York: Chelsea House.Gray, L., & Schamel, W. B. (1987, February). National Archives. Retrieved December 21, 2017, from http://www.archives.govHay, J. (2001). Richard M. Nixon. San Diego, Calif.: Greenhaven Press.Miller, D. A. (2006). Living through Watergate. Detroit: Greenhaven Press.The Watergate Story. (1976). In B. Woodward & C. Bernstein (Authors), Watergate Papers. Washington D.C.: Katharine Graham. (Reprinted from The Washington Post, 1976)

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