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Watergate Scandal, 1971-1974

During the presidential campaign of 1972, there was a break-in at Democratic headquarters at the Watergate in Washington, D.C. The media immediately claimed that the break-in had been planned by Nixon's officials, in order to win the campaign. Nixon claimed to not know anything about the organized break-in, or payment of "hush-money" to the burglars involved. Raising suspicion, Nixon forced two of his main advisers, H. R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman, to resign in April of 1973. John Dean, another adviser, refused to resign, and was instead fired, and Spiro T. Agnew, the vice president, was also forced to resign. He was replaced by Gerald Ford. John Dean testified in the hearings that Nixon had, in fact, known about Watergate and had participated in the cover-up. Dean also assured that Nixon had the missing tapes, proving his guilt. Pressured to do so, Nixon procured the tapes that Dean spoke of. Members of the Senate wanted his impeachment; however, on August 9, 1974, Nixon became the first US President to ever resign. One month later, Gerald Ford pardoned Nixon of "all offences against the United States" in which Nixon may have been involved. This pardoning kept Nixon from being tried or imprisoned due to any outcome of the scandal. However, his advisers were not so lucky, and other staff members were imprisoned. Here, we have laid out a detailed account of the proceedings set forth during the Watergate affair, and have included audio whenever possible.

1971

March 23, 1971, 5:05 PM - The Milk Price Support Discussion.
A discussion of the Associated Milk Producers political action committee and the advisability of maintaining milk price supports as the 1972 general election campaign approaches. There is great concern at raising the prices of milk; some talk of importation of cows and/or pigs is existent, in order to keep prices down. However, the ultimate decision was to increase the price of milk to maintain support of the midwest farmers.
Participants: President Nixon, John D. Ehrlichman, John B. Connally, Jr., Clifford Hardin, John C. Whitaker, and Donald B. Rice
View a more detailed account here: Milk Price Support Discussion

1972

May 28 and June 17, 1972 - Watergate break ins.

June 19, 1972 - Former attorney general John Mitchell denies any presidential link to the Watergate operation.

June 23, 1972, 10:04 AM - The "Smoking Gun" tape
This conversation between President Richard Nixon and his Chief of Staff, H R. (Bob) Haldeman, establishes the President's involvement in a conspiracy to cover-up the break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate complex in Washington DC.
Participants: President Nixon, Bob Haldeman
View a more detailed account here: Smoking Gun tape

June 23, 1972, 2:20 PM - Discussion of the Watergate Break-in
Haldeman discusses his meeting with Vernon Walters, Deputy Director of the CIA and an earlier phone call from L. Patrick Gray, the Acting FBI Director to Walters regarding the Watergate break-in investigation.
Participants: President Nixon, Bob Haldeman
View a more detailed account here: Discussion of Break-in

August 1, 1972 - A $25,000 check is deposited into one of the Watergate burglars' bank accounts. The check was supposedly for the Nixon campaign.

August 30, 1972 - President Nixon states that John Dean had conducted an investigation and no one in the White House was connected to the Watergate burglaries.

September 15, 1972, 5:27 PM - Discussion of the press treatment of Watergate.
A discussion of press treatment of the break-in and lawsuits, discovery of another bug in the DNC, bugs in other political campaigns, DNC lawsuits, Edward Bennett Williams, RNC countersuits, election law violations, Congress, the burglars' civil rights, the Washington Post's TV & Radio licenses, and depositions on sex-lives of DNC members.
Participants: President Nixon, Bob Haldeman, and John Dean
View a more detailed account here: Press treatment of Watergate break ins

October 10, 1972 - The Washington Post reports that the FBI has established a link between the Watergate break ins and major, Republican-funded spying and sabotage against the Democratic party.

November 11, 1972 - Nixon defeats Democratic candidate George McGovern in one of the biggest landslide victories in all American history.

November 15, 1972, 4:05 PM - Telephone conversation: Colson and Hunt.
Topics of discussion include: Colson's need to avoid specific knowledge of details of Hunt's activities, Hunt's insistence that commitments made to defendants are not being kept, and Colson's contact with Dean.
Participants: Charles W Colson and E Howard Hunt
View a more detailed account here: Telephone conversation: Colson and Hunt

1973

January 8, 1973 - Watergate trial opens.

January 8, 1973, 4:05 PM - Why George McGovern was bugged.
The President and Colson discuss the possible reasons why McGovern was bugged, with some apparent confusion on the part of the President. This conversation also sheds some light on the CIA connection between Liddy and Hunt, along with Colson's attitude towards both men.
Participants: President Nixon and Charles Colson
View a more detailed account here: Why George McGovern was bugged

January 11, 1973 - Hunt pleads guilty of charges brought against him.

January 15, 1973 - Gonzalez, Martinez, Sturgis, and Barker plead guilty against charges brought against them at the Watergate trial.

January 30, 1973 - Former aides G. Gordon Liddy and James W. McCord Jr. are convicted of wiretapping, conspiracy, and burglary in the Watergate trial. Mysteries still remain, as none of this clears up Nixon's exact involvement with the issue.

March 17, 1973, 1:25 PM - President counsels Dean on possible testimony.
President Nixon and John Dean discuss which of Nixon's staff members know what, and who will testify at the Watergate trial. Dean advises Nixon to say as little as possible, only what is necessary, and Nixon agrees and tells Dean to do the same.
Participants: President Nixon and John Dean
View a more detailed account here: President counsels Dean on possible testimony

March 20, 1973, 6:00 PM - Revelation of the President's growing frustration.
This conversation between the President and Haldeman reveals the President's growing frustration with the Watergate affair. Haldeman pleads with the President to protect their "friends" on the Watergate side. Haldeman tries to convince the President he will survive this crisis; also, there is concern over Mitchell's knowledge of Liddy's intelligence operation. Haldeman is fatalistic about his own fate: he believes he will be the fall guy in order to protect others. Haldeman tries to keep the President's spirits up by telling the President he will survive the crisis.
Participants: President Nixon and Bob Haldeman
View a more detailed account here: Revelation of the President's growing frustration

March 21, 1973, 10:12 AM - "Cancer on the Presidency" tape.
Dean recaps the history of the Watergate break-in and subsequent cover-up for the President. They guess at who was responsible for setting the break-in in motion. Dean tells the President that the cover-up is "a cancer on the Presidency" that must be excised or his Presidency would be in danger. Also discussed: references to blackmail, perjury, and paying the burglars off with one million dollars.
Participants: President Nixon, John Dean, and Bob Haldeman
View a more detailed account here: "Cancer on the Presidency" tape

March 21, 1973, 5:20 PM - Attempt to shield the President from wrongdoing.
Dean advises the President about Hunt's involvement, and there's an attempt to shield the President from any wrongdoing. They also discuss payment of money to Hunt, the President's relationship with Dean, and how the President was dependent on Dean's advice.
Participants: President Nixon, Bob Haldeman, John Dean, and John Ehrlichman
View a more detailed account here: Attempt to shield the President from wrongdoing

March 21, 1973, 7:53 PM - Colson insists Watergate is still strictly a Washington story.
Topics of discussion include: Colson's insistence that Watergate was still strictly a Washington story, Dean's liability for obstruction of justice, Dean's "double privilege," and that Colson recommends a special counsel to deal with the President's mounting problems.
Participants: President Nixon and Charles Colson
View a more detailed account here: Watergate is strictly a Washington story

March 22, 1973, 9:11 AM - Possible use of $350,000 to pay the Watergate defendants looks suspicious.
Topics of discussion include: the possible use of $350,000 in campaign contributions to pay the Watergate defendants, which appears to be obstruction of justice, and a plan to distance the President and his closest associates from John Mitchell and the Watergate. The President fears that Mitchell will be convicted, then conceives a legal strategy to save him.
Participants: President Nixon and Bob Haldeman
View a more detailed account here: Suspicious paying of Watergate defendants

March 22, 1973, 1:52 PM - Executive privilege and staff testimony in hearings.
Topics of discussion include Executive Privilege, testimony of White House staff in open hearings, and conduct of Senate Watergate hearings. Dean asked to report on White House staff involvement in Watergate. They also discussed PR aspects of release of report, Senate Committee use of executive session for staff testimony, Chapin testimony as a test of Executive Privilege, PR problem of invoking Executive Privilege, and Dean's role as counsel. They moved on to speak about Grand Jury subpoenas, "modified limited hangout": everything short of public session testimony, the issue of ex-employees, and Executive Privilege is equated to invoking the Fifth Amendment.
Participants: President Nixon, Bob Haldeman and John Mitchell
View a more detailed account here: Executive privilege and staff testimony in hearings

March 27, 1973, 11:10 AM - Implication of the White House staff in covering up parts of the Watergate affair.
Topics of discussion include: public relations aspects of Watergate, Mitchell's role in the break-in, White House staff implicating itself in cover-up to protect Mitchell, Magruder's history of the "super-intelligence operation" at the White House and Committee to Re-Elect the President. The discussion also includes Dean's response to Magruder's views, Mitchell's role in approving the break-in, Hunt's testimony before the Grand Jury, possible immunity deal for Liddy, Dean's lack of prior knowledge of break-in, Mitchell's dilemma, and possible meetings with Magruder and Mitchell. Last, there's talk of McCord's testimony, Magruder's perjury and reaction to prospect of jail time, and possible immunity deal.
Participants: President Nixon, Bob Haldeman, John Ehrlichman, and Ronald Ziegler
View a more detailed account here: Implication of White House staff in covering up parts of the Watergate affair

April 14, 1973, 8:55 AM - Discussions of press coverage and campaign funding (three parts).
Topics of discussion include: press coverage and the issue of campaign funding, Hunt's testimony, and the President insisting, publicly, to Mitchell, Magruder, Liddy not to withhold testimony thinking they will protect the President. There are also reports of promises of pardons, clemency, implications of hush money to defendants, possible Ehrlichman meetings with Mitchell, Magruders and their lawyers, possible grand jury appearance by the President, and the legal exposure of Dean, Haldeman, Chapin in the cover-up.
Participants: President Nixon, Bob Haldeman, and John Ehrlichman
View more detailed accounts here:
Discussions of press coverage, Part 1 of 3
Discussions of press coverage, Part 2 of 3
Discussions of press coverage, Part 3 of 3

April 14, 1973, 2:24 PM - Recount of Ehrlichman's meeting with Mitchell and his attorneys.
Topics discussed include: dissuading suspects from remaining quiet thinking they were protecting the President, origins of the break-in, Operation Sandwedge (intelligence-gathering operation at the Committee to Re-Elect the President), Dean influencing Magruder's testimony, Mitchell and Magruder's prior knowledge of break-in, conflict between Liddy and Magruder, payments to defendants, disposition of $328,000, and pressure from Kleindeinst to appoint a Special Prosecutor. There's also talk of the White House role in the break-in, an upcoming meeting with Magruder and his attorneys, involvement of Strachan and Colson, Dean's views, Hunt's attorney, clemency, and Mitchell's legal prospects.
Participants: President Nixon, Bob Haldeman, and John Ehrlichman
View a more detailed account here: Recount of Ehrlichman's meeting with Mitchell and his attorneys

April 14, 1973, 5:15 PM - Conversation with Magruder and lawyers.
Ehrlichman discusses his conversation with Magruder and his two lawyers, history of Operation Sandwedge (intelligence-gathering operation at the Committee to Re-Elect the President), quality of intelligence gathered from DNC, the coverup, Gordon Strachan's perjury, Magruder's upcoming testimony, money for Watergate defendants, legal exposure of Dean, Haldeman and Colson, and Mitchell's prospects in court.
Participants: President Nixon, John Ehrlichman, and Bob Haldeman
View a more detailed account here: Conversation with Magruder and his lawyers

April 14, 1973, 11:02 PM - Insistence that money raised for expenses of burglary defendants was not hush money.
Topics of discussion include: Mitchell's problems, President insisting that money raised for expenses of burglary defendants was not hush money, and Colson's potential testimony of White House staffers before Senate Watergate Committee.
Participants: President Nixon and Bob Haldeman
View a more detailed account here: Insistence that money raised for expenses of burglary defendants was not hush money

April 14, 1973, 11:22 PM - Ehrlichman discusses the legal positions of Haldeman and Dean.
Discussion of the legal position of Haldeman and Dean after recent disclosures, money for Watergate defendants, and the prosecution of Mitchell.
Participants: President Nixon, Bob Haldeman, and John Ehrlichman
View a more detailed account here: Ehrlichman discusses the legal positions of Haldeman and Dean

April 15, 1973 - Discussion of conversations with Gordon Strachan and Richard Kleindeinst.
Topics of discussion include: conversations with Gordon Strachan and Richard Kleindeinst, Kleindeinst's request for a special prosecutor and the risks involved, Colson and money for Hunt, Strachan's upcoming testimony, obstruction of justice exposure of White House Staff, Bittman's role, Colson's exposure, Liddy's testimony and sentencing prospects, Dean's role in money for defendants, and Magruder's knowledge.
Participants: President Nixon, Bob Haldeman, and John Ehrlichman
View a more detailed account here: Conversations with Gordon Strachan and Richard Kleindeinst

April 16, 1973, 9:50 AM - Request for Dean's resignation letter.
Topics include: a request for Dean's resignation letter, other bugging operations, national security justifications, plumbers operation covered by Executive Privilege, NSC leaks, and Liddy's knowledge. They also discuss PR efforts and staying ahead of the press, Liddy's testimony, possibility of Ehrlichman completing Dean's report, Kleindeinst's request for a special prosecutor, the content of Dean's resignation letter and his plea, possible immunity deal, money for Hunt, the possibility that Dean has information implicating Ehrlichman, and motivation for cover-up of the election.
Participants: President Nixon, Bob Haldeman, and John Ehrlichman
View a more detailed account here: Request for Dean's resignation letter

April 16, 1973, 10:00 AM - Dean's Resignation.
President discusses the need to have resignations of Dean (and Haldeman and Ehrlichman) "at the ready" and offers two options, "indefinite leave of absence" or "resignation", depending on plea. Magruder is questioned about Haldeman and Ehrlichman's role in cover-up, and the contrast between involvement of White House staff in break-in and cover-up. They also discuss Hunt's blackmail, review of March 21st conversation, Executive Privilege, plumbers operation, Senate hearings, Segretti's dirty tricks operation, the need for open testimony, Ehrlichman's instructions to Colson regarding clemency for Hunt, Petersen's reports to President, and formal resignation letter.
Participants: President Nixon and John Dean
View a more detailed account here: Dean's Resignation

April 16, 1973, 10:50 AM - Possible claims of Executive Privilege in testimony.
Topics of discussion include: possible claims of Executive Privilege in testimony, claim of national security, conversation with Dean about a resignation letter, previous knowledge of break-in by White House staff. Also, they discuss Dean's failure to write down his report, and the possibility of announcing that Ehrlichman will continue the investigation.
Participants: President Nixon and Bob Haldeman
View a more detailed account here: Possible claims of Executive Privilege in testimony

April 17, 1973, 9:47 AM - Money for Watergate defendants.
Topics of discussion include: previous Dean conversations, money for Watergate defendants, Kalmbach and LaRue's role, and Colson's testimony.
Participants: President Nixon and Bob Haldeman
View a more detailed account here: Money for Watergate defendants

April 17, 1973, 12:35 PM - White House staff have knowledge of payments.
Topics of discussion include: $350,000 for defendants, White House Staff knowledge of payments, Dean's testimony on conversations with the President, and blackmail by defendants.
Participants: President Nixon, Bob Haldeman, and Ronald Ziegler
View a more detailed account here: White House staff have knowledge of payments

April 19, 1973, 1:03 PM - Blackmail by Watergate defendants; exposure of Haldeman.
Topics of discussion include: blackmail by Watergate defendants, legal exposure of Haldeman and others, Dean's report, Dean's breach of confidentiality, and Mitchell's culpability.
Participants: President Nixon and John Ehrlichman
View a more detailed account here: Blackmail by Watergate defendants

April 19, 1973 - Conversation between John Ehrlichman and Herbert Kalmbach
Topics of discussion include: Kalmbach's upcoming testimony, his conversations with U.S. Attorney Earl Silbert, Dean cooperating in hopes of immunity, Ehrlichman's legal exposure, the need to reiterate that money to defendants was a legal defense fund, and the need to make the point that both Kalmbach and Ehrlichman were following Dean's lead.
Participants: John Ehrlichman and Herbert Kalmbach
View a more detailed account here: Conversation between Ehrlichman and Kalmbach

April 23, 1973 - White House issues a public statement that says the President did not know anything about the Watergate affair.

April 25, 1973, 11:06 AM - Possibility of impeachment.
Topics of discussion include: implications of Dean's potential testimony, the possibility of impeachment, the need for someone to listen to the White House Tapes to review conversations with Dean, Richard Moore's fear of legal exposure, and the President's words regarding money for defendants.
Participants: President Nixon, Bob Haldeman, and John Ehrlichman
View a more detailed account here: Possiblity of impeachment

April 25, 1973, 4:40 PM - "The Cancer on the Presidency."
Topics of discussion include: listening to the Tapes, "The Cancer on the Presidency" conversation, President's knowledge, containing the FBI investigation, Haldeman, Ehrlichman, Mitchell and Dean involvement in obstruction of justice, the defendants' demands for money. Also discussed are: Fielding break-in in California, planned break-in of the Brookings Institution, one-million dollars for defendants, LaRue and Pappas's role, the possible use of campaign funds, clemency for Hunt, $120,000 demand from Hunt, Strachan, Haldeman receipt of bugging information, and immunity for Dean.
Participants: President Nixon and Bob Haldeman
View a more detailed account here: The Cancer on the Presidency tape

April 25, 1973, 7:46 PM - Possibility the President was bugged; Dean's word against Nixon's.
Topics of discussion include: discussion of the possibility that Dean recorded conversations in the Oval Office, Dean's word against the President's, the Dean Report, Dean's prospects for immunity, potential for loss of support for the Administration, and the White House taping system.
Participants: President Nixon and Bob Haldeman
View a more detailed account here: Possibility the President was bugged

April 30, 1973 - Nixon staff members HR Haldeman, John Ehrlichman, and Richard Kleindienst all resign. John Dean is fired.

May 17-18, 1973 - Senate begins open, televised hearings.

October 19, 1973 - President Nixon offers a compromise: he'll give the tapes to Senator John Stennis to review and give summaries.

October 20, 1973 - Nixon's suggested compromise is denied.

October 23, 1973 - President Nixon agrees to submit the tapes with a subpoena.

December 7, 1973 - The White House is unable to explain the 18.5 minute gap in one of the phone conversations between Nixon and Haldeman, which took place on June 20, 1973.

1974

July 24, 1974 - The Supreme Court rules that Nixon must turn over all the tapes, which contradicts Nixon's power of executive privilege.

July 27, 1974 - Judiciary committee charges Nixon formally with obstruction of justice, and passes the first three articles of impeachment.

August 8, 1974 - President Nixon becomes the first president to resign from office.

September 8, 1974 - President Gerald Ford pardons Nixon on all counts.