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Watergate Scandal Facts and Historical Timeline

Watergate is one of the most well known government corruption scandals in history.

Who was involved in the Watergate scandal? Watergate involved some of the highest ranking officers, government officials, and government agencies including the CIA and President Nixon. Below you will find a timeline of the Watergate scandal that will answer questions such as; what year did Watergate happen?, who was involved in Watergate?, what happened during Watergate?, and what caused the Watergate scandal?. There are also resources about Watergate to help you find more information and lesson plans for teachers about Watergate.


The largest scandal of Richard M. Nixon’s presidency unfolded with the burglary on 17 June 1972 of the National Democratic Committee headquarters in the Watergate apartment-office complex in Washington, D.C. The burglars were employees of the Committee for the Re-election of the President and were supervised by members of the White House staff. Watergate came to symbolize the efforts of the Nixon administration to subvert the democratic order through criminal acts; the suppression of civil liberties; the levying of domestic warfare against political opponents through espionage and sabotage, discriminatory income tax audits, and other punitive executive sanctions; and attempted intimidation of the news media. President Nixon’s direct role in White House efforts to cover up involvement in the Watergate break in was revealed in a tape of a 23 June 1972 conversation with White House chief of staff H. R. Haldeman, in which Nixon discussed a plan to have the CIA pressure the FBI to cease investigation of the Watergate case by claiming that national security secrets would be threatened if the Bureau widened its investigations. It was after this so-called “smoking gun” tape was made public on 6 August 1974 that President Nixon resigned from office on 9 August 1974.

Timeline Of Watergate

1969: Ehrlichman suggests to Caulfield that he leave the White House and set up a private security business that would provide security to the 1972 Nixon campaign.

July 1, 1971: David Young and Egil Krogh write a memo suggesting the formation of what would later be called the “White House Plumbers” in response to the leak of the Pentagon Papers by Daniel Ellsberg.

November 1968Richard Nixon, the 55-year-old former vice presidentdefeats Hubert Humphrey in one of the closest elections in US history.

July 23, 1970: Nixon approves a plan for greatly expanding domestic intelligence-gathering by the FBI, CIA and other agencies.

July 14, 1970: Nixon endorses the Huston Plan

September 17, 1970: Mitchell met with John Dean and discusses the poor job that the FBI was doing in the area domestic intelligence.

June 13, 1971: The New York Times begins publishing the Pentagon Papers the Defense Department’s secret history of the Vietnam War.

June 17, 1972: Five men, one of whom used to work for the CIA, are arrested 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.

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.

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.

November 11, 1972: Nixon is reelected in one of the largest landslides in American political history, taking more than 60 percent of the vote.

January 30, 1973: G. Gordon Liddy and James W. McCord Jr. are convicted of conspiracy, burglary and wiretapping in the Watergateincident.

April 30, 1973: Top White House staffers, H.R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman, and Attorney General Richard Kleindienst resign over the scandal.

May 18, 1973: The Senate Watergate committee begins its nationally televised hearings.

June 3, 1973: John Dean has told Watergate investigators that he discussed the Watergate cover-up with President Nixon at least 35 times.

June 13, 1973: Watergate prosecutors find a memo addressed to John Ehrlichman describing in detail the plans to burglarize the office of Pentagon Papers.

July 13, 1973: Alexander Butterfield, former presidential appointments secretary, reveals in congressional testimony that since 1971 Nixon had recorded all conversations and telephone calls.

July 18, 1973: Nixon orders the White House taping system disconnected.

July 23, 1973: Nixon refuses to turn over the presidential tape recordings to the Senate Watergate committee.

October 20, 1973: Nixon fires Archibald Cox and abolishes the office of the special prosecutor.

November 17, 1973: Nixon declares, “I’m not a crook,” maintaining his innocence.

December 7, 1973: The White House can’t explain an 18 1/2 -minute gap in one of the tapes. Chief of staff Alexander Haig says one theory is that “some sinister force” erased the segment.

April 30, 1974: The White House releases more than 1,200 pages of edited transcripts of the Nixon tapes to the House Judiciary Committee.

July 24, 1974: The Supreme Court rules unanimously that Nixon must turn over the tape recordings of 64 White House conversations.

July 27, 1974: House Judiciary Committee passes the first of three articles of impeachment, charging obstruction of justice.

August 8, 1974Richard Nixon becomes the first U.S. president to resign. Vice President Gerald R. Ford assumes the country’s highest office.

June 13, 2002: Stanley L. Greigg, 71, the former Democratic National Committee official who filed the original criminal complaint dies in Salem, Va. Post Story

February 10, 2003: Ronald Ziegler, 63, who as President Richard M. Nixon’s press secretary at first described the Watergate break-in as a “third-rate burglary,” dies after a heart attack.

April 8, 2003: In one of the largest such purchases in American history, the University of Texas at Austin buys the Watergate papers of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein for $5 million, the university announced.

July 27, 2003: Thirty years after the Senate select committee hearings on Watergate riveted the nation and doomed the Nixon presidency, a key figure in the scandal says Richard M. Nixon personally ordered the burglary of Democratic headquarters at the Watergate complex.

November 13, 2003: Congressional negotiators agree to undo part of a Watergate-era law that prevented former president Richard M. Nixon from taking his tapes and papers with.

December 11, 2003: National Archives and Records Administration releases 240 more hours of tape of the 37th president.

April 9, 2004: Helen M. Smith, 84, who worked at the White House as press secretary and trusted aide to first lady Pat Nixon during the turbulent Watergate years, dies of vascular disease at her home in Washington. Post Story

May 27, 2004: Transcripts of telephone conversations released show President Richard M. Nixon jokingly threatened to drop a nuclear bomb on Capitol Hill in March 1974.

February 4, 2005: Thousands of pages of notes, memos, transcripts and other materials collectively known as the Woodward and Bernstein Watergate Papers opens to the public at the University of Texas

May 31, 2005: The Washington Post confirms that W. Mark Felt, a former number-two official at the FBI, was Deep Throat.