Essay by Anonymous UserHigh School, 12th gradeA, October 1996

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Watergate was a designation of a major U.S. scandal that began with the

burglary and wiretapping of the Democratic party's headquarters, later

engulfed President Richard M. Nixon and many of his supporters in a variety

of illegal acts and culminated in the first resignation of a U.S. president.

The burglary was committed on June 17, 1972, by five men who were

caught in the offices of the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate

apartment and office complex in Washington D.C. Their arrest eventually

uncovered a White House-sponsered plan of espionage against political

opponents and a trail of complicity that led to many of the highest officials in

the land, including former U.S. Attorney General John Mitchell, White House

Counsel John Dean, White House Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman, White

House Special Assistant on Domestic Affairs John Ehrlichman, and President

Nixon himself. On April 30, 1973, nearly a year after the burglary and arrest

and following a grand jury investigation of the burglary, Nixon accepted the

resignation of Haldeman and Ehrlichman and announced the dismissal of

Dean U.S.

Attorney General Richard Kleindienst resigned as well. The new

attorney general, Elliot Richardson, appointed a special prosecutor, Harvard

Law School profesor Archibald Cox, to conduct a full-scale investigation of

the Watergate break-in. In May of 1973, the Senate Select Committee on

Presidential Activities opened hearings, with Senator Sam Ervin of North

Carolina as chairman. A series of startling revelations followed. Dean

testified that Mitchell had ordered the break-in and that a major attempt was

under way to hide White House involvement. He claimed that the president

had authorized payments to the burglars to keep them quiet. The Nixon

administration immediately denied this assertion.

The testimony of White House aide Alexander Butterfield unlocked the

entire investigation pertaining to White House tapes. On...