United States History

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What was so significant about the Watergate scandal?

Jun 18th, 2015

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Jun 18th, 2015

The Watergate scandal (or just "Watergate") was an American political scandal and constitutional crisis of the 1970's, which eventually led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon. The affair was named after the hotel where the burglary that led to a series of investigations occurred. 

In the early 1970's, when Richard Nixon was running for re-election, someone broke into the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee, which was in an office/residence complex in Washington, D.C., called Watergate. 

The scandal erupted when it was learned that the perpetrators were part of the Nixon administration, and that the White House had audio tapes to prove it. Congress pressured the President for many months to provide these tapes, while the Nixon administration continued to deny their existance. Finally, when the tapes surfaced, large portions of their content had been removed, destroying all evidence linking the criminals to President Nixon. The tapes only surfaced after Richard Bork, the attorney general at the time, sued Nixon, and the US Supreme Court ordered Nixon to provide the tapes and subpoenaed the tapes. 

These tapes led to the drawing-up of articles of impeachement of Nixon, but he resigned before they could be passed. 


The effects of the Watergate scandal did not by any means end with the resignation of President Nixon and the imprisonment of some of his aides. Indirectly, Watergate was the cause of new laws leading to extensive changes in campaign financing. It was a major factor in the passage of amendments to the Freedom of Information Act in 1986, as well as laws requiring new financial disclosures by key government officials.


Jun 18th, 2015

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