Why Was There A Watergate Scandal ELLA HISTORY REV

Context, phases and impact of the Watergate Scandal for GCSE History Edexcel, Unit - USA A Divided Union

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USA ­ A Divided Union?
Why was there a Watergate scandal, and what impact did it have upon the presidency of Nixon
and upon US society?
In 1952 Richard Nixon was the Vice President to Eisenhower and was narrowly defeated by Kennedy in the
elections of 1960. After this defeat he became paranoid about his popularity in elections a US poll during the
1960 elections found that those who'd seen Kennedy and Nixon on TV favoured Kennedy for President, whilst
those who listened to them on the radio favoured Nixon. This was due to Kennedy's charisma, charm and
youth. Nixon did eventually become President of the USA in 1968 and was reelected in 1972, setting up
CREEP (Committee to reelect the President), but was forced to resign by 1974. During his Presidency
Nixon became so paranoid that he installed a tape recording system in the White House in 1971.
Watergate often overshadows Nixon's achievements as President he greatly helped with Vietnam by
promising to withdraw soldiers and ending the draft system, slowly `Vietnamising' the situation and also brought
about agreements with China with put a wedge between the SU and China and so helped to bring about arms
reduction and nuclear disarmament talks.
However, the scandal rocked the USA in the 1970's as it was seen as the greatest threat on the US
constitution in its history.
Phase 1 1972
17 June '72 5 burglars were caught trying to break into the rooms of the Democratic Party Offices (leading
opposition) in Washington DC.
Washington Post reporters, Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, pursued an investigation on the break in
and discovered that the burglars were all members of CREEP, and that CREEP was a `dirty tricks' campaign
hoping to discover information about the Democratic Party's election strategies.
Nixon strongly denied any involvement despite George McGovern (Democratic opposition) accusing him of
being involved with the break ins. Nixon secretly ordered nearly $500,000 to given to the burglars for their
silence and Nixon won a landslide victory in the elections in November '72.
Phase 2 ­ 1973
March: At a trial of the Watergate burglars, one of the burglars, John McCord, fearing a long prison sentence
admitted that some of the `White House staff' were involved in the burglary, but not Nixon himself.
April: Two of Nixon's closest advisors who'd been accused of involvement "resigned".
Summer: Senate Committee set up to investigate, with head of committee Senator Sam Ervin. John Dean,
who was one of the advisors who had "resigned", admitted to the Senate Committee that Nixon had tried to
cover up the scandal afterwards and also revealed that Nixon had secretly taperecorded all conversations
within the White House and the truth could be found on these reels.
Phase 3 ­ Battle for the tapes

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USA ­ A Divided Union?
In July 1973 The Senate subpoenaed (summoned to court) Nixon's secret tapes. After a long refusal Nixon
finally started to hand over edited sections of the tape in November 1973.
On the tapes Nixon appeared
Foul mouthed
The Senate finally threatened to impeach (charge a public official in court with misconduct in office) so Nixon
handed over the rest of the tapes and resigned to avoid impeachment in 1974.…read more


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