Richard Nixon is inaugurated as the 37 President of the United States.
Richard Nixon orders the installation of a secret taping system that records all conversations in the Oval Office, his Executive Office Building office, and his Camp David office and on selected telephones in these locations.
June 13, 1971
The New York Times begins publishing the Pentagon Papers, the Defense Department's secret history of the Vietnam War. The Washington Post will begin publishing the papers later in the week.
Nixon and his staff recruit a team of ex-FBI and CIA operatives, later referred to as “the Plumbers” to investigate the leaked publication of the Pentagon Papers. On September 9, the "plumbers" break into the office of Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist, in an unsuccessful attempt to steal psychiatric records to smear Daniel Ellsberg, the defense analyst who leaked the Pentagon Papers to the press.
One of the “plumbers,” G. Gordon Liddy, is transferred to the Committee to Re-Elect the President (CREEP), where he obtains approval from Attorney General John Mitchell for a wide-ranging plan of espionage against the Democratic Party.
May 28, 1972
Liddy’s team breaks into the Democratic National Committee Headquarters at the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C. for the first time, bugging the telephones of staffers.
June 17, 1972
Five men are arrested after breaking into the Democratic National Committee Headquarters. Among the items found in their possession were bugging devices, thousands of dollars in cash and rolls of film. Days later, the White House denied involvement in the break-in.
June 17, 1972
A young Washington Post crime reporter, Bob Woodward, is sent to the arraignment of the burglars. Another young Post reporter, Carl Bernstein, volunteers to make some phone calls to learn more about the burglary.
June 20, 1972
Bob Woodward has his first of several meetings with the source and informant known as “Deep Throat,” whose identity, W. Mark Felt, the associate director of the FBI, was only revealed three decades later.
August 1, 1972
An article in The Washington Post reports that a check for $25,000 earmarked for Nixon’s 1972 re-election campaign was deposited into the bank account of one of the men arrested for the Watergate break-in. Over the course of nearly two years, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein continue to file stories about the Watergate scandal, relying on many sources.
August 30, 1972
Nixon announces that John Dean has completed an internal investigation into the Watergate break-in, and has found no evidence of White House involvement.
September 29, 1972
The Washington Post reports that while serving as Attorney General, John Mitchell had controlled a secret fund to finance intelligence gathering against Democrats. When Carl Bernstein calls Mitchell for comment, Mitchell threatens both Bernstein and Katharine Graham, the publisher of the Post. The Post prints the threat.
October 10, 1972
Woodward and Bernstein report that the FBI had made connections between Nixon aides and the Watergate break-in.
Articles by Woodward and Bernstein describe the existence of a major “dirty tricks” campaign conducted against Democratic Presidential candidate Edmund Muskie, orchestrated by Donald Segretti and others paid by CREEP and Nixon’s private attorney.
November 7, 1972
Nixon is elected to a second term in office after defeating Democratic candidate George McGovern.
January 8, 1973
The Watergate break-in trial begins.
January 30, 1973
Former Nixon aide and FBI agent G. Gordon Liddy and James McCord, an ex-CIA agent and former security director of the Committee to Re-elect the President (CREEP), are convicted for their roles in the break-in at the Watergate complex. They are found guilty of conspiracy, bugging DNC headquarters, and burglary. Four others, including E. Howard Hunt, had already plead guilty. Judge John J. Sirica threatens the convicted burglars with long prison sentences unless they talk.
March 21, 1973
In a White House meeting, White House Counsel John Dean tells Nixon, “We have a cancer—within—close to the Presidency, that’s growing.” He and Nixon discuss how to pay the Watergate bribers as much as $1 million in cash to continue the cover-up.
March 23, 1973
Watergate burglar James McCord’s letter confessing the existence of a wider conspiracy is read in open court by Judge Sirica. The Watergate cover-up starts to unravel.
April 6, 1973
Dean begins cooperating with Watergate prosecutors.
April 9, 1973
The New York Times reports that McCord told the Senate Watergate Committee that a Republican group, the Committee to Re-elect the President (CREEP) had made cash payoffs to the Watergate burglars.
April 27, 1973
Acting FBI director L. Patrick Gray resigns after admitting that he destroyed documents given to him by John Dean days after the Watergate break-in.
April 30, 1973
The Watergate scandal intensifies as Nixon announces that White House aides John Ehrlichman and H.R. Haldeman have resigned. White House counsel John Dean is fired. (In October that year, Dean would plead guilty to obstruction of justice.) Attorney General Richard Kleindienst resigns. Later that night, Nixon delivers his first primetime address to the nation on Watergate, stressing his innocence.
May 17, 1973
Senator Sam Ervin opens the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities into the Watergate incident.
May 18, 1973
The first nationally televised hearings of the Senate Select Committee begin. Attorney General-designate Elliot Richardson appoints law professor and former U.S. Solicitor General Archibald Cox as special prosecutor in the Watergate investigation.
June 3, 1973
The Washington Post reports that Dean told Watergate prosecutors that he discussed the cover-up with Nixon at least 35 times. On June 25, Dean testifies before the Senate Select Committee about Nixon’s involvement.
June 13, 1973
Prosecutors discover a memo to John Ehrlichman regarding plans for the Plumbers’ break-in of Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist.
July 13, 1973
Alexander Butterfield, former presidential appointments secretary, meets with Senate investigators, where he reveals the existence of an extensive, secret taping system in the White House. On July 16, he testifies before the Senate Committee in a live broadcast, revealing that since 1971 Nixon had recorded all conversations and telephone calls in his offices.
July 18, 1973
Nixon reportedly orders the White House taping system disconnected.
July to October 1973
President Nixon refuses to turn over recordings of his White House conversations to the Senate investigation and to Cox. The tapes are believed to include evidence that Nixon and his aides had attempted to cover up their involvement in the Watergate break-in and other illegal activities. Nixon files appeals in response to various subpoenas ordering him to turn over the tapes.
August 15, 1973
The same day the Senate Select Committee wraps up its hearings, Nixon delivers a second primetime address to the nation on Watergate, saying “It has become clear that both the hearings themselves and some of the commentaries on them have become increasingly absorbed in an effort to implicate the President personally in the illegal activities that took place.” He reminded the American people that he had already taken “full responsibility” for the “abuses that occurred during my administration.”
October 10, 1973
Vice President Spiro Agnew resigns, amidst bribery and income-tax evasion charges, unrelated to the Watergate break-in. Two days later, Nixon nominates Michigan Congressman Gerald Ford as vice president. Ford is sworn in in December.
October 19, 1973
Nixon attempts a legal maneuver to avoid handing over the tapes to Cox by suggesting U.S. Sen. John Stennis to summarize the tapes for investigators. Cox will refuse the offer the next day.
October 20, 1973
Nixon orders the firing of special prosecutor Archibald Cox in what becomes known as the “Saturday Night Massacre.” Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus resign rather than carry out these orders. Solicitor General Robert Bork fires Cox. Several days later, Leon Jaworski is appointed as the second special prosecutor.
November 17, 1973
During a televised press conference in Florida, Nixon famously declares, “I’m not a crook,” and continues to profess his innocence.
November 21, 1973
White House Watergate counsel J. Fred Buzhardt reveals the existence of an 18 ½ minute gap on the tape of Nixon-Haldeman conversation on June 20, 1972. The White House is unable to explain the gap, although Nixon’s secretary Rose Mary Woods, will later claim she accidentally erased the material.
March 1, 1974
Indictments are handed down for the “Watergate Seven,” including John Mitchell, H.R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman. The grand jury names Nixon as an “unindicted co-conspirator.”
April 30, 1974
Transcripts of more than 1,200 pages of edited transcripts of the Nixon tapes are released by The White House.
May 9, 1974
House Judiciary Committee starts impeachment proceedings against Nixon.
July 24, 1974
The Supreme Court rules that Nixon must surrender dozens of original tape recordings of conversations to Jaworski.
July 27-30, 1974
Three articles of impeachment are debated and approved by the House Judiciary Committee against Nixon—obstruction of justice, misuse of power and contempt of Congress. The impeachment was sent to the floor of the House for a full vote but the vote was never carried out.
August 5, 1974
Nixon releases transcripts of three conversations with Haldeman on June 23, 1972. Known as the “smoking gun,” the transcripts reveal Nixon’s involvement in the Watergate cover-up.
August 8, 1974
President Nixon resigns. In a nationally televised speech, the president says, "I have never been a quitter. To leave office before my term is completed is abhorrent to every instinct in my body. But as president, I must put the interest of America first...Therefore, I shall resign the presidency effective at noon tomorrow."
August 9, 1974
Nixon signs his letter of resignation. Vice President Gerald Ford becomes president.
September 8, 1974
Nixon is pardoned by President Gerald Ford for any offenses he might have committed against the United States while president.
Former chief of staff H.R. Haldeman, former domestic policy advisor John Ehrlichman, and former attorney general and Nixon campaign manager John Mitchell are tried and convicted of conspiracy charges arising from Watergate. In total, 41 people will receive criminal convictions related to the Watergate scandal.
For more information on one of the biggest scandals in U.S. history, tune-in to the 3-night special Watergate, premiering Friday, November 2 at 9/8c.
Chronology of the Watergate scandal
The Pentagon Papers -- classified Defense Department documents about the Vietnam War -- are published by The New York Times.
Sept. 3, 1971
A group of White House aides burglarizes a psychiatrist's office to find files on Daniel Ellsberg, the former defense analyst who leaked the Pentagon Papers.
June 17, 1972
Five men, one claiming to be a former CIA operative, are arrested at 2:30 a.m. trying to bug the offices of the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate hotel and office complex.
June 19, 1972
One of the Watergate burglars is a GOP security aide. Former attorney general John Mitchell, head of the Nixon re-election campaign, denies any link to the operation.
A cashier's check for $25,000, apparently intended for the Nixon campaign, showed up in the bank account of a Watergate burglar.
Sept. 29, 1972
It is revealed that John Mitchell, while serving as attorney general, managed a secret Republican fund used to finance spying on Democrats.
Oct. 10, 1972
FBI agents conclude that the Watergate burglarly was part of a much larger conspiracy of political spying and sabotage conducted on behalf of the Nixon re-election campaign.
President Richard M. Nixon defeats the Democratic candidate, Sen. George McGovern of South Dakota, in a landslide.
Jan. 30, 1973
Former Nixon aides G. Gordon Liddy and James W. McCord Jr. are convicted of conspiracy, burglary and wiretapping in the Watergate scandal. Five other men also plead guilty.
April 30, 1973
White House aides H.R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman, and Attorney General Richard Kleindienst resign. White House counsel John Dean is fired.
May 18, 1973
The nationally televised Senate Watergate Committee hearings begin.
June 13, 1973
Watergate prosecutors find a memo to Ehrlichman describing plans to burglarize the office of Ellsberg's psychiatrist.
June 3, 1973
Dean admits that he discussed the Watergate cover-up with Nixon at least 35 times.
July 13, 1973
Former presidential appointments secretary Alexander Butterfield reveals before Congress that since 1971 Nixon had recorded all conversations and telephone calls in his offices.
July 23, 1973
Nixon refuses to turn over the presidential tape recordings to the Senate Watergate Committee or the special prosecutor.
Oct. 20, 1973
Nixon fires Justice Department special prosecutor Archibald Cox and abolishes the office of the special prosecutor.
Nov. 17, 1973
Nixon declares, "I'm not a crook," maintaining his innocence in the Watergate case.
The White House can't explain an 18 -minute gap in one of the subpoenaed tapes.
April 30, 1974
The White House releases edited transcripts of the Nixon tapes to the House Judiciary Committee. The committee demands that the actual tapes be turned over.
July 24, 1974
Rejecting the notion of executive privilege, the Supreme Court orders Nixon to turn over tape recordings of 64 White House conversations.
July 27, 1974
The House Judiciary Committee passes the first of three articles of impeachment, charging obstruction of justice.
The Real Story Of ‘The Most Famous Political Scandal’ In U.S. History
Pierre Manevy/Express/Getty Images
In the latest 5-minute video for PragerU, radio host and columnist Hugh Hewitt breaks down the real and little-known history of Watergate, the most famous political scandal in U.S. history.
Even though many people know Watergate involved an illegal break-in, says Hewitt, if you were to ask most any person to try and explain the scandal, they’d likely draw a blank. But what most people don’t know, he argues, is that Watergate was “first and foremost” part of a political war between a Republican president and the mainstream media.
Hewitt offers three reasons for why the media had it out for President Richard Nixon: The elites despised him, and the Washington, D.C., press corps were members of the elite Nixon was a staunch anti-communist at a time media types believed the communism threat was “overblown” and Nixon refused to abandon South Vietnam in the war against communism at a time when media types were anti-war.
So why did the Watergate scandal blow up the way that it did? Hewitt argues that had Nixon’s people simply owned up to its role in the scandal, the whole ordeal may have just blown over. But because Nixon failed to mount an effective response, the scandal grew from minor to major.
“Three men made sure of that,” argues Hewitt. “A publicity-seeking judge” named John Sirica, a “vengeful” FBI official named Mark Felt, and “a partisan special prosecutor” named Archibald Cox.
“Suspecting a vast conspiracy, Sirica threatened the burglars with lifetime prison sentences if they didn’t rat out the people who authorized the crime,” says Hewitt.
Meanwhile, the FBI official “thought that he deserved to become head of the FBI” and started leaking tips to Washington Post reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward after Nixon overlooked him for the position. “Meeting secretly, he told them where to look and what questions to ask. Without him, the duo would have gotten nowhere,” Hewitt says.
“With Sirica applying pressure from the bench and Felt from inside the FBI, the White House defenses began to weaken, then crack, and then shatter,” says Hewitt. Then once Cox appointed Democratic lawyers to investigate the Nixon administration, the president effectively found himself in political quicksand from which he could not escape.
“When it emerged that many of Nixon’s private conversations were recorded, his fate was sealed. Citing executive privilege, he tried to keep the tapes from Sirica and Congress. On July 24, 1974, the Supreme Court ruled against the president,” he says.
Less than a month later, Nixon resigned — the only U.S. president to ever do so.
“The media had its victory, and a newfound sense of power. The country has not been the same since,” says Hewitt.
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II. Watergate Break-in and Beginning of the Cover-up
The three-week period between the Break-in arrests and Mitchell’s resignation from CRP set the stage for all that followed.
The Watergate Break-in was a bumbled affair, at best, seemingly undertaken by the Keystone Cops. Indeed, it was originally described by the WH press office as “a third-rate burglary.” There is still no agreement on the motive for the actual Break-in – and a series of books have been written which raise questions as to who knew in advance, what the real mission was, and who was really responsible for its planning and implementation.
There is no attempt here to resolve these questions, merely to note that they exist. The bottom line, however, is that it was clearly an illegal act and fully appropriate that those involved to have been prosecuted. The lingering question remains, now as then, just how high up the chain of command any knowledge of the Break-in went.
It has never been shown that anyone on the WH staff (as distinguished from CRP staff), particularly Haldeman, Ehrlichman and Nixon (and except for Dean), had absolutely any advance knowledge of the planned Break-in. Those that knew of Liddy’s plans, however (certainly including Dean, Magruder and perhaps Mitchell), quickly embarked upon a Cover-up, which drew in many more individuals and ultimately made the scandal much worse.
One possible interpretation is that Nixon returned from the Bahamas, where he’d been relaxing he and his senior aides demanded the truth, only to learn that the trail, if followed closely, might well end up at Mitchell’s doorstep. Nixon then fired his best friend. Instead of throwing him to the wolves, however, Nixon and his senior aides chose to let the investigation take its natural course. After assuring themselves that Colson was not the instigator (and, therefore, there was no actual WH involvement), they dispatched Dean to CRP to protect WH interests and be sure the problem was “contained” at CRP. Bad as the fallout might be, it would involve CRP and not the WH. Because of his own risk of prosecution from the two meetings in Mitchell’s office, Dean turned out to be the worst possible choice. His orchestration of the Cover-up was mainly to protect himself. When it collapsed, he sold out his colleagues and sought immunity for his own criminal acts.
In response to the Break-in, the US Attorney’s office undertook an extensive investigation, ultimately involving over a hundred FBI agents and exclusive use of a specially-dedicated grand jury.
In the course of the Cover-up, Dean and Magruder enlisted any number of here-to-fore uninvolved individuals at CRP (without disclosure of their own criminal liability), who were later convicted and imprisoned for their role in “helping the President.”
Dean also committed a number of criminal acts, in addition to obstruction of justice: He not only rehearsed Magruder for his perjured testimony in two appearances before the grand jury (subornation of perjury), but also destroyed evidence, embezzled campaign funds, and arranged to receive investigatory updates from the FBI, which he improperly shared with the burglars’ defense counsel.
May 3, 1972 – As J. Edgar Hoover’s body lay in state, an anti-war demonstration is held by Daniel Ellsberg, William Kunstler and others. The WH arranges for a counter-demonstration, bringing the Cubans up from Miami to provide protection. [The issue later investigated by WSPF Plumbers Task Force is whether Charles Colson could be prosecuted for inciting violence in connection with this event. See Nick Akerman’s memo of June 5, 1975, which describes the extensive WSPF resources devoted to this effort.]
May 28, 1972 — First illegal entry into DNC offices at Watergate office building, wiretaps are supposedly planted on phones of Larry O’Brien and Spencer Oliver. Magruder later is told that Oliver’s tap works, but O’Brien’s doesn’t.
June 5, 1972 – A DC grand jury is empaneled, which quickly devotes substantially all of its time in investigating the Watergate Break-in and ensuing Cover-up. Originally scheduled to expire on December 4, 1973, it is extended by Act of Congress on November 30, 1973 and then again on May 31, 1974. It finally expired on December 4, 1974
June 17, 1972 — Second illegal entry is made into DNC offices in Watergate office building, supposedly to repair tap on O’Brien’s phone. James McCord, CRP’s head of security, and four Cubans are caught red-handed and arrested on site. [The Cubans are found to possess uncirculated $100 bills, which the FBI soon traces to Bernard Barker’s Miami bank account. Liddy and Hunt are arrested not long thereafter. Papers announce Nixon’s lead over McGovern is the largest poll margin in history. It has been pointed out that Liddy, the supposed leader of the Break-in team, is the only member without extensive, long-term CIA connections].
June 18, 1973 — CRP issues press release denying any culpability. [This is seen by prosecutors as the first overt act in the ensuing Cover-up.]
_________ — Liddy approaches Attorney General Richard Kleindienst at Burning Tree Country Club, saying Mitchell wants him to get McCord out of jail before his true identify becomes known. Kleindienst refuses, but does not report this incident to investigators.
June 19, 1972 — Strachan takes it upon himself to destroy possibly embarrassing materials in his (i.e.: Haldeman’s) files that have been sent over from CRP by Magruder.
_________ — Dean (returning from Manila) takes charge. Dean meets with Liddy at 11:15am that morning, who admits it was his team that was caught and says it was because Magruder was pressing him for more information. Dean later claims to have reported this to Ehrlichman and Haldeman. [This is supposedly when Hunt is ordered out of the country, but testimony differs on just who originated that idea (which was quickly countermanded by Dean in any event after speaking with Colson.)]
_________ — Dean meets with Mitchell, Magruder, LaRue and Robert Mardian in Mitchell’s apartment that evening to begin orchestrating the Cover-up in earnest.
June 20, 1972 — First recorded Nixon/Haldeman conversation following Watergate arrests. Haldeman notes contain the word “Watergate”, but conversation is overlaid by a distinct buzzing sound [This becomes known as the 18 Minute Gap and is Road Map Item 31. Even today, no one knows just how the 18 minutes were lost, but in Appendix A of his 2014 book, The Nixon Defense, Dean says the gap is “historically insignificant,” since it was too early for them to learn anything and neither Nixon nor Haldeman took note of their conversation in their respective diaries.]
________ — Mardian and LaRue interview Liddy in LaRue’s Watergate apartment and learn extent of his illegal activities, along with his assertion he’d been promised that his people would receive money for legal and living expenses. LaRue then relays this information to Mitchell.
__________ — Nixon spoke with Mitchell, but there is no recording of their conversation, the explanation being that Nixon used a phone that was not connected to the taping system. This is Road Map Item 32, citing Nixon’s Daily Diary and an excerpt from his Dictabelt recording of his recollections from that day.
__________ — GSA brings contents from Hunt’s EOB office safe to Dean’s office for his review. [This is where Dean separates out Hunt’s address book and two Hermes notebooks, which he secrets in his file cabinet, as well as Hunt’s draft cables about Vietnam President Diem’s assassination, which are not turned over to FBI agents.]
June 22, 1972 — Edward Bennett Williams files complaint against CRP on behalf of the DNC, claiming damages from the Break-in. [He quickly embarks on extensive deposition schedule, which is of great concern to CRP and WH. They finally convince Judge Richey to postpone this suit, when criminal indictments are handed down in September. There are credible allegations developed by the Ervin Committee that the DNC was tipped off as to the pending Break-in and, thus, may have prepared the suit in advance.]
June 23, 1972 — Second recorded Nixon/Haldeman conversation following Watergate arrests, where the President agrees to Dean’s recommendation to get the CIA to tell the FBI not to proceed with two interviews. [The release of this tape (the “Smoking Gun”) on August 5, 1974, undermined Nixon’s contention that he had no involvement and he announced his resignation three days later. It subsequently developed that his lawyers had misunderstood the context of his actions, which turned out to have been taken to prevent disclosure of several significant Democrat donors to CRP. Even Dean has written in his 2014 book: “In short, the Smoking Gun was shooting blanks.”]
________ — Watergate Grand Jury I begins to hear evidence concerning the Break-in. [The office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia assumed responsibility for the ensuing investigation, which was led by principle associate Earl Silbert, along with his colleagues Seymour Glanzer and Donald Campbell. They directed the FBI’s investigation.]
June 28, 1972 — Liddy fired from CRP for refusing to answer FBI questions about the Break-in.
________ — Dean later testified that Haldeman and Ehrlichman approved the use of Herb Kalmbach “to raise and distribute covert cash funds for the benefit of those involved in the Watergate Break-in.” This is Road Map Item 33, citing only pp. 93 and 102-103 of Dean’s 11/19/73 grand jury testimony as proof. [Nowhere in Dean’s testimony, however, is there any mention of the funds being “covert”.]
________ –LaRue meets with Kalmbach to discuss secret delivery method for defendant payments, done mainly by Anthony Ulasewicz, a retired NYC cop.
________ –Ehrlichman and Dean give Acting FBI Director Pat Gray a portion of the contents from Hunt’s EOB safe, principally documents from Hunt’s efforts to reconstruct a cable supposedly connecting the Kennedy administration to the 1973 assassination of Vietnam President Ngo Dinh Diem. Gray later burns these in his vacation home fireplace, so their precise nature remains unknown. [Interestingly, there really was such a cable, which had been kept hidden by the Kennedy administration. It is known as Cable 243, now available on-line. This is also the timeframe where Dean says Ehrlichman told him to “Deep Six” certain documents, but he decided not to.]
June 30, 1972 – Nixon meets with Haldeman and Mitchell. This is Road Map Item 34, with the only citation being to the WH tape and related transcript.
July 1, 1972 — Mitchell resigns as head of CRP, supposedly because of his alcoholic wife, Martha. [WH tapes, however, have Haldeman telling Nixon that he suggested Mitchell might wish to resign, in advance of possible troubles down the road.]
July 6, 1972 – Gray speaks to Nixon by phone. This event is Road Map Item 35, whose description says “during which Gray warned the President that the President’s top aides were ‘mortally wounding’ him and /or were not cooperating with the FBI investigation, and/or that ‘the matter of Watergate might lead higher,” citing pp. 101-103 of Gray’s 7/19/73 grand jury testimony and Nixon’s public statements of 5/22/73 and 8/22/73. [WSPF prosecutors omitted the very next paragraph of Gray’s testimony, which said, “There was a perceptible pause, a noticeable pause, and the President said to me, ‘Pat, you just continue to conduct your aggressive and thorough investigation.’ And that was the end of the phone call.”
Week of July 4, 1972 – Ehrlichman had a conversation with the President regarding the possibility of executive clemency for those involved in Watergate. This event is Road Map Item 36, citing pp. 88-92 and 127-128 of Ehrlichman’s 9/13/73 grand jury testimony, along with presidential statements on 8/15 and 11/17, 1973. [Ehrlichman’s actual testimony was to the effect that he was warning Nixon not to become involved in any clemency discussions at that point.]
July 14, 1972 — Sloan resigns as CRP Treasurer, after refusing to participate in the Cover-up, by faking records of cash disbursements to Liddy. His deputy, Bart Porter does consent to help and is later convicted for his perjured testimony.
August 16, 1972 — Magruder testifies before grand jury, after Dean helps to rehearse him for his perjured testimony concerning Liddy’s supervision and their meetings in Mitchell’s office. LaRue tells Ervin Committee that he, Mitchell, Mardian and Dean had all met with Magruder in advance and knew he was going to offer this false testimony
August 28, 1972 — Krogh gives sworn deposition before US Attorneys (in lieu of actual grand jury appearance), during which he perjures himself, by denying any knowledge of why Liddy and Hunt might have flown to California. [In his orchestration of the Cover-up, Dean had told Krogh that the President wanted him to lie about people connected with the Fielding Break-in, saying “Lie. Lie like you’ve never lied before.” Krogh would become the first WH official to be indicted in the expanding Watergate scandal.]
________ — Colson testifies before grand jury.
August 30, 1972 — Nixon announces Dean has conducted investigation into Watergate and concluded no one from WH was involved. [This could be seen as the “First” Dean Report, since Dean had been asked to ascertain whether Colson or anyone else on the WH had been involved. Dean neglected to disclose his own participation in the two meetings in Attorney General Mitchell’s office. If he had, he would certainly have been terminated from the WH staff, as someone whose involvement might embarrass the WH.]
September 13, 1972 – At the end of their investigation, Silbert submits a 21-page Prosecutive Memorandum on the Watergate Break-in to Henry Petersen (who heads DOJ’s Criminal Division), just before the indictments are handed down, essentially saying “Here’s what we know at this point. We’re going to indict those we can convict for sure. Once convicted, we’ll see if they name any higher-ups.”
________ — Magruder again testifies before grand jury.
September 14, 1972 — Mitchell testifies before grand jury.
September 18, 1972 – Kalmbach stops as paymaster and is replaced by LaRue.
Watergate: How the scandal unfolded
Five men are arrested in the Democratic party's offices at the Watergate complex in Washington, DC. They have thousands of dollars in cash and a notebook containing a White House phone number.
1 August: Deep Throat
Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein claim Nixon's re-election campaign gave one burglar $25,000. Thanks mainly to "Deep Throat" (exposed in 2005 as FBI official Mark Felt, who died last month), they go on to expose a Republican campaign of "dirty tricks" to disrupt the Democrats.
7 November: Nixon re-elected
Despite the scandal, Nixon wins a second term by a huge majority.
16 July 1973: The president's tapes
At a hearing of the Senate's special Watergate Committee, a presidential assistant says "everything was taped" at the Oval Office, but Nixon rejects calls to release the recordings.
20 October: 'Saturday Night Massacre'
Throughout the summer, Nixon refused to hand over the tapes. A subpoena is issued but Nixon still refuses to hand over the tapes, and demands the sacking of Archibald Cox, the prosecutor responsible. The attorney-general resigns, as do other officials, but Cox is still dismissed. Reactions to this "Saturday Night Massacre" lead Nixon to declare on 17 November: "I'm not a crook!"
2 August 1974: Tapes released
In response to a Supreme Court order, Nixon finally releases the Oval Office tapes (edited transcripts, "expletives deleted", had been made public in late April) minus 18 and a half minutes "accidentally erased" by his secretary. On 27 July, the House of Representatives had voted to begin formal moves to impeach him.
4 August: The smoking gun
One tape reveals Nixon apparently agreeing to a cover-up just six days after the break-in.
8 August: Nixon announces resignation
Nixon announces live on television that, for the good of the nation, he is stepping down. He resigns the following day. A month later, his successor, Gerald Ford, grants him a full pardon for any federal crimes he may have committed in office.
What Is a Summary of the Watergate Scandal?
The Watergate scandal consisted of the break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters by people indirectly working for President Richard Nixon, and the subsequent cover-up of the administration's involvement by Nixon and members of his staff. The Watergate scandal drew widespread attention and resulted in the resignation of President Nixon.
Watergate.info reports that the scandal began with the arrest of five men for breaking into the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington, D.C. on June 17, 1972. The men were found to be bugging the building's telephones, including the phone of Democratic chairman Larry O'Brien. The FBI found the name of E. Howard Hunt--a former CIA officer involved in another Nixon controversy--in the address book of one of the burglars. Shortly thereafter, investigators discovered a cashier's check for $25,000 from the committee for the re-election of the president in the bank account of one of the burglars.
Congress, the Justice Department and the press began suspecting a link between the Nixon Administration and the break-in. Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein were famously contacted by an anonymous source known as Deep Throat, who informed them that Howard Hunt and the administration were trying to cover up their involvement. Eventually, a collection of White House tapes recording the conversation of President Nixon came to light. Nixon further incriminated himself when he ordered the dismissal of special prosecutor Archibald Cox of the Justice Department, who subpoenaed the tapes.
Eventually, the Supreme Court ordered the release of the tapes. The result was the near-universal acknowledgement of Nixon's culpability. The president resigned on August 8, 1974 in order to avoid certain impeachment and conviction.
The My Watergate Story timeline and events.
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58a. Undoing a President
The Watergate office complex &mdash site of the infamous 1972 break-in that led to the first Presidential resignation in American history-- is still in use in Washington, D.C.
On June 17, 1972, five men were arrested after breaking into the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee located in the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C. The burglars were not ordinary thieves. They carried wiretaps to install on telephones. They carried cameras to photograph documents. Four of the five criminals were anti-Castro Cubans who had been previously hired by the CIA. The fifth was James McCord , the security adviser for Nixon's campaign staff known as the Committee to Re-Elect the President , or CREEP. Although the incident failed to make the front pages of the major newspapers, it would soon become the most notorious political scandal in American history.
In the heated climate of the late 1960s and early 1970s, President Nixon believed strongly that a war was being fought between "us" and "them." To Nixon, "us" meant the conservative, middle- and working-class, church-going Americans, who believed the United States was in danger of crumbling. "Them" meant the young, defiant, free love, antiwar, liberal counterculture figures who sought to transform American values.
President Nixon's letter of resignation (above) is addressed to the Secretary of State &mdash who at the time was Henry Kissinger &mdash in keeping with a law passed by Congress in 1792. When Kissinger initialed the document at 11:35 a.m., Nixon's resignation became official.
Nixon would stop at nothing to win this war of hearts and minds, even if it meant breaking the law.
In 1971, a White House group known as the "Plumbers" was established to eliminate administration leaks to the press. Their first target was Daniel Ellsberg who had worked on the Pentagon Papers , a highly critical study of America's Vietnam policy. Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers &mdash intended to be used internally by the government &mdash to the New York Times . The Plumbers vandalized the office of Ellsberg's psychiatrist, hoping to find discrediting information on Ellsberg to release to the public.
Later that year, Attorney General John Mitchell resigned to head CREEP. The campaign raised millions of dollars in illegal contributions and laundered several hundred thousand for plumbing activities. A White House adviser named G. Gordon Liddy suggested that the Democratic headquarters be bugged and that other funds should be used to bribe, threaten, or smear Nixon's opponents. After the arrest of the burglars, Nixon suggested the payments of hush money to avoid a connection between Watergate and the White House. He suggested that the FBI cease any investigation of the break-in. He recommended that staffers perjure themselves if subpoenaed in court.
Richard Nixon delivers his trademark "V" sign with both arms as he prepares to leave the White House for the last time on August 9, 1974.
The Watergate cover-up was initially successful. Despite a headline story in The Washington Post by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein suggesting White House involvement, Nixon went on to win 49 of 50 states in the November 1972 Presidential election against George McGovern .
When the burglars were tried in January 1973, James McCord admitted in a letter that members of the Nixon Administration ordered the Watergate break-in. A Senate committee was appointed to investigate, and Nixon succumbed to public pressure and appointed Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox to scrutinize the matter.
Complicitous in the cover-up, many high-level White House officials resigned including Nixon's Chief of Staff, Bob Haldeman , and his Adviser on Domestic Affairs, John Ehrlichman . In an unrelated case, Vice-President Spiro Agnew resigned facing charges of bribery and tax evasion. Nixon's own personal counsel, John Dean , agreed to cooperate with the Senate and testified about Nixon's involvement in the cover-up. In a televised speech, Nixon assured told the American public "I am not a crook." It seemed like a matter of Nixon's word against Dean's until a low-level aide told the committee that Nixon had been in the practice of taping every conversation held in the Oval Office.
Nixon flatly refused to submit the tapes to the committee. When Archibald Cox demanded the surrender of the tapes, Nixon had him fired. Public outcry pressed Nixon to agree to release typewritten transcripts of his tapes, but Americans were not satisfied. The tape transcripts further damaged Nixon. On the tapes he swore like a sailor and behaved like a bully. Then there was the matter of 17 crucial minutes missing from one of the tapes.
Finally, in U.S. v. Nixon , the Supreme Court declared that executive privilege did not apply in this case, and Nixon was ordered to give the evidence to the Congress.
Though Richard Nixon will forever be remembered for the Watergate scandal, his foreign policy accomplishments are worth noting. Here, Nixon reviews troops during his historic visit to China that helped lessen diplomatic tensions.
By this time, the House Judiciary Committee had already drawn up articles of impeachment , and Nixon knew he did not have the votes in the Senate to save his Presidency.
On August 8, 1974, Nixon resigned the office, becoming the first President to do so. His successor, Gerald Ford, promptly awarded Nixon a full pardon for any crimes he may have committed while in office. The press and the public cried foul, but Ford defended his decision by insisting the nation was better served by ending the long, national nightmare.
During his years in office, Nixon had brought a controversial end to the Vietnam War, opened communication with Red China, watched NASA put astronauts on the moon, and presided over a healing period in American history in the early 1970s. Despite these many accomplishments, Watergate's shadow occludes Nixon's legacy.
The Watergate Scandal: A Timeline - HISTORY
Watergate Case Study
By James M. Perry
Watergate may be the most famous story in American investigative journalism history. It led to impeachment hearings, President Nixons resignation from office, and a spate of new political ethics laws. It also had an enormous impact on the practice of investigative journalism. Woodward and Bernstein wrote two best-selling books (one of which is quoted at length in this case) on the case and a popular movie, starring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman, was made of it. Enrollments in journalism schools skyrocketed.
For journalists, a key question is this: why did one newspaper, The Washington Post, succeed in keeping the story alive while just about everyone else gave up? The answer to that question reveals a great deal about why some newspapers succeed and why others fail, why some reporters bring to a story the skills and perseverance that others seem to lack. The lessons of Watergate remain just as instructive today as they did 25 years ago.
Readers of The Washington Post awoke on Sunday morning, June 18, 1972, to discover this story by veteran police reporter Alfred E. Lewis on the front page.
Five men, one of whom said he is a former employee of the Central Intelligence Agency, were arrested at 2:30 a.m. yesterday in what authorities described as an elaborate plot to bug the offices of the Democratic National Committee here.
The five men, said the story, "were surprised at gunpoint by three plain-clothes officers of the metropolitan police department in a sixth floor office at the plush Watergate, 2600 Virginia Ave., NW, where the Democratic National Committee occupies the entire floor."
The name still reverberates as one of the greatest domestic scandals in American political history, leading to the resignation of the President, Richard Nixon, and the trial and conviction of many of the men closest to him. It echoes, too, as the most daring and exciting story in the history of American journalism.
Barry Sussman, the Post's city editor in 1972, says in an interview that he never thought of the story in cosmic terms he just thought it was a good yarn that needed good reporting. He remembers that about 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 17, he received a phone call from his boss, Harry M. Rosenfeld, the metropolitan editor. Rosenfeld said five men had been arrested for a break-in at Democratic Party headquarters and asked him to get into the office on what was normally his day off to supervise the coverage. Before doing anything elsebefore even getting out of bedSussman called two reporters to get on the story. One was predictableAl Lewis, the Post's legendary police reporter, a man who had been on the beat so long (36 years) he thought like a cop. Lewis arrived at the Watergate complex with the city's acting police chief. They walked through the police lines and into the building, passing dozens of frustrated and curious reporters, and went straight up the elevator to the party headquarters. The other reporter summoned by Sussman wasn't so predictable. His name was Bob Woodward. He had worked for the Post on the metropolitan (local) staff for eight months.
With more than 80 metropolitan reporters at his beck and call, why did Sussman pick Woodward?
"You could see he was good," Sussman recalls. "Though hed only been at the Post a short time, hed been on Page One as much as anyone else." That was partly because he never seemed to leave the building. "I worked the police beat all night," Woodward says, "and then Id go home I had an apartment fiver blocks from the Post and sleep for a while. Id show up in the newsroom around 10 or 11 [in the morning] and work all day too. People complained I was working too hard."
He says he just couldnt help himself. "I loved the place. I loved the feel of the news room the intensity, the mystery, the unexpected things that happened."
"He really had his shit together," recalls Ben Bradlee, the Posts executive editor at the time of the break-in, in an interview. "He was tenacious and worked hard," says metro editor Rosenfeld. "He had already impressed me by the work he did on the George Wallace shooting." Wallace, a presidential candidate, was shot an seriously wounded May 15 at a suburban shopping mall in Laurel, Md. At the time, according to Sussman and Rosenfeld, Woodward said he had "a friend" who might be able to help. Woodward, interviewed in his beautiful home in Georgetown, the capitals poshest neighborhood, says that even after all these years he wont say anything more. The "friend," of course, was the most mysterious of all Watergate figures, Woodwards oracle, the man we all know as "Deep Throat."
Woodward was dispatched that first day to cover the court arraignment of the five burglars. He squeezed into a front-row seat and heard James W. McCord, one of the defendants, describe himself as a retired government worker. What agency? he was asked. "The CIA," McCord replied in what was almost a whisper. "Holy shit," Woodward remembers saying to himself, half-aloud.
Wandering around the newsroom that Saturday was the Post's Peck's Bad Boy, the official office hippie, a long-haired reporter who played the guitar and never turned his expense accounts in on time: Carl Bernstein, another young Metro reporter.
Bernstein had been at the Post since the fall of 1966. In 1972, Katharine Graham, publisher of the Post, wrote in her splendid autobiography, Personal History, that Bernstein "had not distinguished himself. He was a good writer, but his poor work habits were well known throughout the city room even then, as was his famous roving eye. In fact, one thing that stood in the way of Carls being put on the story was that Ben Bradlee was about to fire him. Carl was notorious for an irresponsible expense account and numerous other delinquencies including having rented a car and abandoned it in a parking lot, presenting the company with an enormous bill."
But Sussman liked Bernstein. He got the job.
Woodward was a wealthy young man from the Midwest who went to private schools and Yale University. He had served five years as an officer and a gentleman in the U.S. Navy. Bernstein was a rare species in the Post newsroom a native of Washington. He had grown up in metropolitan Washington and spent some time at the University of Maryland before dropping out. Both reporters had been married, but Woodward was divorced and Bernstein was separated from his wife. Without family obligations, they were able to devote almost all of their waking hours to the story.
So, by late afternoon that first day, the Posts Watergate team was already shaping up. First of all, Woodward, 30 at the time of the burglary, and Bernstein, 29, the reporters. Next up the ladder, Sussman, 38, the city editor (responsible for District of Columbia news), an introspective fellow who grew up in Brooklyn and had been something of a vagabond before settling in at the Post. Sussmans boss was Rosenfeld, 43, who had been foreign editor at the New York Herald Tribune when it folded. He was the Posts metropolitan editor (in charge of the news from the city and its suburbs). Day by day, these were the people who worked on the Watergate story, all the time.
They all reported to Howard Simons, 43, a one-time science editor chosen by Bradlee to run the paper day to day. He was the Posts highly competent managing editor. Simons, in turn, reported to Bradlee, 51 years old in June of 1972. That Saturday, when the story broke, he was at his cabin in West Virginia, where the phone, as usual, wasnt working. And at the very top was Katharine Graham, the papers gutsy publisher.
Sunday's story in the Post described the break-in and said one of the defendants was James McCord, a retired CIA agent. Monday's storyit was bylined Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, their first of many byline pairingssaid McCord was not only a retired CIA agent, he was also "the salaried security coordinator for President Nixon's re-election committee." And that wasn't all, the two reporters saidhe also was under contract to provide security services to the Republican National Committee.
The reporters were able to pin down McCord's campaign connections because the paper's regular White House reporter, Carroll Kilpatrick, had spotted McCord's name in Sunday's story. "I know that man," he said, and he called the news desk to say McCord was on the re-election committee's payroll.
In the first of the many lies that were to follow, former Attorney General John Mitchell, head of the Committee for the Re-election of the President, which came to be known as "CREEP" by reporters, said that McCord's only role with the campaign was to install a security system at campaign headquarters. As for the other four defendants (all of them residents of Miami with anti-Fidel Castro backgrounds), Mitchell said they "were not operating either in our behalf or with our consent."
Rosenfeld recalled that by late Sunday afternoon Bernstein had concluded that Nixon and his long-time hatchet-man, Murray Chotiner, were behind Watergate. (This time, though, Chotiner, who had performed any number of questionable chores for Nixon over the years, was purely innocent.) Bernstein wrote a five-page memo expounding his "Chotiner Theory," and sent it to Woodward, Sussman, and Rosenfeld. "It scared the marrow out of my bones," Rosenfeld remembers. For many reporters and editors at the Post, and for almost everyone else at other media outlets, the idea that the President could be involved in these insane activities was simply ludicrous.
Sussman says he didn't want to think about any of those things. He simply wanted to keep the story going day by day, and see where it finally ended. Tuesday's story, though, kept the ball rolling nicely, and in the direction of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
The break came from the Post's night police reporter, Eugene Bachinski. On Monday, a friendly police officer allowed him to browse through the notebooks and papers confiscated from the five suspects. In one address book, he found the notation, "W.H." In another, he found the listing, "W. House." The name connected to both of them was that of Howard Hunt. Bachinski arrived at the newsroom shortly before noon on Monday, and told Sussman what he had discovered.
Sussman gave Hunt's name to Woodward (in the book he wrote with Bernstein, All the President's Men, Woodward says he already knew about Hunt because Bachinski had called him at home late Sunday night). Woodward called the White House switchboard and the telephone operator put him through to an extension, but there was no answer. J ust as Woodward was about to hang up, the operator came back on the line and told him, "There is one other place he might be. In Mr. Colson's office." Hunt wasn't there either, but the secretary answering the phone suggested he might be reached at Robert R. Mullen and Company, a public-relations firm. She said he worked there as a writer.
Everybody on the Post's national staff knew who Colson was. He was Charles W. Colson, special counsel to the President of the United States, and he was a major figure in the White House. But Woodward had no idea. He asked an editor on the news desk if he had heard of someone named Colson. Sure, the editor said, Chuck Colson, like Murray Chotiner, was one of Nixons "hatchet" men. Woodward called the White House back and confirmed that Hunt was on the payroll as a consultant working for Colson.
Armed with all this information, he called Hunt at his P.R. firm. "Howard Hunt here," the man answering the phone said. Woodward identified himself and then asked why Hunt's name and phone number were in the address books of two of the burglars arrested at the Watergate.
"Good God," Hunt said, Woodward and Bernstein recalled in their book, All the President's Men. Hunt paused for a moment before going on. "In view that the matter is under adjudication, I have no comment." Woodward said Hunt then slammed the phone down.
In the book, Woodward said he telephoned his special "friend" who worked for the governmentthe legendary anonymous source dubbed "Deep Throat"and was reassured that the FBI considered Hunt a prime suspect in its Watergate investigation. Woodward and Bernstein also said in their book that Sussman, invariably referred to as a master of detail, remembered Colson, and pulled out clips about him in the Post library. Sussman still sizzles at the idea that he was not much more than a master of detail. He argues that he was the editor with the broadest overview of the whole story and that, time and time again, he was the editor who whipped these stories into shape, often rewriting the leads. Sussman says in an interview he has no recollection of pulling those clips from the library.
In any event, someone pulled the Colson clips because the information in them became part of the story. One of the stories in the clips was written by a Post reporter, Kenneth W. Clawson. Clawson had left the paper earlier in 1972 to become the White House deputy director of communications. He had quoted an anonymous source describing Colson as "one of the original back room boys. The guys who fix things when they broke down and do the dirty work when it's necessary." Somebody slipped that lovely quote into the story, taking careful note to mention that Clawson was now working at the White House. Tuesday's story was headlined, "White House Consultant Linked to Bugging Suspects."
"Three days into the story," said Ben Bradlee, "and we're already into the White House. Not bad for those two kids."
The fact that four of the Watergate burglars were anti-Castro partisans from Miami led some reporters and investigators to the conclusion that Cuba had something to do with the break-in. At the New York Times, reporter Walter Rugaber had been sent to Miami and was writing some interesting stories about how the Watergate burglars had been financed. Rugaber's contact seemed to be Dade County state's attorney, or prosecutor, Richard Gerstein, who was running for re-election and had opened his own Watergate investigation.
At this point, the Post, in fact, went into something of a funk. The problem was the paper's massive commitment to the coverage of the Presidential election. More than 40 reporters were preparing to cover the summer's political conventions and there wasn't a whole lot of time for very much else. In his book, The Great Cover-Up Nixon and the Scandal of Watergate, Sussman said that, to the paper's political writers, the Watergate story was "like a leaky faucetsomething to think about when you stood near the sink, easy to forget when you were out covering the election campaign."
Things were so slow that Sussman took his wife and two daughters to the beach for a holiday starting the last day in June. He was there on Saturday, July 1, when Mitchell announced he was stepping down as the President's campaign manager to be with his family. He was succeeded by former Minnesota Congressman Clark MacGregor. When he returned from vacation, Sussman was called into managing editor Simons office and told the paper had to do more with the Watergate story. Simons pointed to the New York Times on his desk, carrying one of Rugaber's reports. Other papers were getting into the act too. On July 22, the Long Island daily Newsday reported that a former White House aide named G. Gordon Liddy had been fired in June for refusing to cooperate with the FBI. Simons told Sussman to work full time on the story, along with Woodward and Bernstein.
Bernstein tried to play catchup with the Times' reporting, a job loathed by every good reporter. He learned from reading the Times and by making his own phone calls that the Miami investigators had subpoenaed bank records of one of the burglars, Bernard L. Barker, and had begun turning up provocative information. From reading the Times, Bernstein learned that $89,000 had been deposited in Barker's account and then withdrawn from it in April. He reached the Dade County prosecutor's chief investigator, Martin Dardis, and asked him about the $89,000. "It's a little more than $89,000," Dardis said. It was, in fact, a little more than $100,000 and most of the money had been "laundered" in Mexico, so no one could trace its origins.
Bernstein was given permission to fly to Miami to learn more about the cash. As he boarded the plane on Monday, July 31, he glanced for the first time at the front page of the New York Times. "Cash in Capital Raid Traced to Mexico," the headline said. "Bernstein directed his ugliest thoughts to Gerstein and Dardis," he and Woodward wrote in their book. Upon arriving in Miami, Bernstein checked in at the Sheraton Four Ambassadors, the city's poshest hotel. He asked about Rugaber's whereabouts. "He checked out over the weekend," the desk clerk told him.
About 8 p.m. Monday, Bernstein called from Miami to say that after a long game of cat and mouse, Dardis unable to shake the persistent reporter -- had finally let him see the actual checks. "There's a check for $25,000 signed by someone named Kenneth Dahlberg," Bernstein said. He had no idea who Dahlberg was, and neither did Woodward or Sussman.
In their book, the two reporters recount that Bernstein started working the phones furiously, calling police investigators and bank officials in Florida. One of the bankers, James Collins, said yes, he knew Dahlberg he was one of the banks directors and added, ever so gratuitously, that Dahlberg had been head of Nixons Midwest campaign in 1968. The two reporters wrote in their book that Bernstein called Sussman with his scoop and that Sussman told him that Woodward was at that moment on the phone with Dahlberg. "For Christ's sake!" Bernstein screamed, "tell him Dahlberg was head of Nixon's Midwest campaign in 1968." "I think he knows something about it," Sussman is reported to have replied, according to the Woodward-Bernstein book.
Woodward, working on the story in the Post newsroom in Washington, had traced a Kenneth H. Dahlberg to two addresses, one in Boca Raton, in Florida, the other in Minneapolis. Woodward tracked his man down to the home in Minneapolis. They chatted for a few minutes. Yes, said Dahlberg, he also had a home in Boca Raton. And what did he do? Well, among other things, he said, he was a fund-raiser for Richard Nixon.
Dahlberg called back later to confirm that Woodward really was a Post reporter. And he spilled more of the beans. He had raised so much money in cash, he said, that he had become worried about carrying it around. So he deposited the money in the First Bank and Trust, in Boca Raton, in exchange for a cashier's check. When he got to Washington, he gave the cashier's check either to Hugh Sloan, treasurer of the campaign finance committee, or to the top man himself, Maurice Stans, the former Secretary of Commerce and head of the finance committee. He told Woodward he had already talked to the FBI three times and had no idea how the money ended up in Barker's bank account. Or, he might have added, how fifty-three $100 bills drawn from Barker's account had ended up in the pockets of the Watergate burglars.
The story ran in the Post on Tuesday, August 1, on the lower half of the front page. It would have received more prominence that day if it weren't for the fact that another story led the page with an eight-column banner: "Eagleton Bows Out of '72 Race McGovern Weighs Replacement." Thomas Eagleton, a well-respected U.S. Senator from Missouri, had withdrawn as McGovern's vice presidential running mate when it became public knowledge that he had been hospitalized three times with mental problems and had undergone shock therapy on two of those occasions.
The Post's August 1 Watergate story began with these words:
A $25,000 cashier's check, apparently earmarked for President Nixon's re-election campaign, was deposited in April in a bank account of one of the five men arrested in the break-in at Democratic National Headquarters here June 17.
The check was made out by a Florida bank to Kenneth H. Dahlberg, the Presidents campaign finance chairman for the Midwest. Dahlberg said last night that in early April he turned the check over to "the treasurer of the Committee (for the Re-election of the President) or to Maurice Stans himself."
Woodward remembers that when Sussman finished editing the storyright on deadline, as usualhe put his pencil and his pipe down on his desk and told his ace reporter, "We've never had a story like this. Just never."
That night, Woodward says, he had dinner with the man he considers a mentor, the late Jerry Landauer, the Wall Street Journal's legendary investigative reporter (who broke the story that led to the resignation of Nixon's vice president, Spiro Agnew). "Bob," Landauer said, "I would have given my left arm for that Dahlberg story today."
Looking back at all the Post's Watergate stories, Sussman says this one, the August 1 story, was the most significant because it showed more clearly than anything else that the Watergate burglars were a part of Nixon's re-election campaign. It gave the lie to the campaign's contention that the Watergate break-in was carried out by zealots operating independentlyGordon Liddy, chief among themwho were simply out of control. It set in motion the official inquiries that led to Nixon's resignation.
All these years later, Ben Bradlee still revels in the Post's Watergate coverage, and especially that August 1 story. "We had street reporters," he says. "Over at the New York Times, they had Max Frankel [the Washington bureau chief] and he spent most of the day talking on the phone with Henry Kissinger."
Luck had been a part of nailing down the Dahlberg story. Rugaber missed the check Bernstein found it. But that wonderful Post passionthe sheer doggedness of the coverageplayed a part too. Bernstein had been pushed around in Miami. He met delay after delay. Maybe he could see the checks, maybe not. But he persisted. He didn't give up, he didn't call the office back in Washington and say he was coming home because the authorities weren't cooperating. In the end, he got the single biggest, most important of all the Watergate stories. It was at this point that the Times and the rest of the Post's opposition began to fade away. It was the beginning of the Post's ascension.
It is difficult to exaggerate just how hard Bernstein and Woodward worked on the Watergate story. They made phone calls they knocked on doors. They each developed a thick list of sources, and there wasnt much overlap between one list and the other. They worked all the time -- and they believed in what they were doing.
Suspicions were now growing that prosecutor Earl Silbert and the Justice Department, heavily influenced by the Nixon White House, hoped to restrict the investigation solely to the burglars.. The August 1 story about the $25,000 Dahlberg check demonstrated that it was a much bigger story than that. The wheels began to turn.
The most important wheel was a little-known agency in the General Accounting Office called the Federal Elections Division, headed by Philip S. "Sam" Hughes, a veteran bureaucrat who had helped write the GI Bill of Rights following World War II. The agency had set up shop on April 7, charged by a recently enacted campaign-reform act to tighten up the reporting of campaign contributions. Best of all, it was a part of the legislativenot the executivebranch. Hughes told Woodward there was no mention of the Dahlberg check in any of the finance filings by the Nixon committee. He pledged he would take a serious looka full auditto see what was going on.
At the same time, Congressman Wright Patman, the 79-year-old chairman of the House Banking and Currency Committee, directed his staff to see if there had been any violations of banking law in the way the Dahlberg check and the laundered Mexican cash had been handled. That investigation never really got off the ground, partly because Patman some days couldn't assemble a quorum of committee members, but it was a start. On the Senate side, Edward M. Kennedy, chairman of the Judiciary Committee's subcommittee on Administrative Practices and Procedure, began another investigation.
But it was Sam Hughes and his little agency that caused the most trouble for the White House. Woodward's editors told him to make absolutely certain that no other paper beat the Post on the agency's findings. Woodward called someone at Sam Hughes' office every day.
On August 22, the second day of the GOP national convention in Miami, Woodward and Bernstein reported that Hughes' election office was preparing to release its report documenting illegal activities by Nixon's re-election committee. Hours before the final report was to be released, however, Hughes was summoned to Miami by Maurice Stans, for whom he had once worked, to talk things over. He made the flight, even though he knew it might look improper if the press got hold of it. Word did leak outit almost always does in situations like thisand Democratic National Chairman Lawrence O'Brien charged that it was "the most outrageous conspiracy of suppression that I have witnessed in a generation of political activity."
The Nixon campaign knew it couldn't suppress Hughes' report, which was published August 26, after the convention adjourned, but it had managed to keep it from coming out while Nixon was celebrating his triumphal renomination.
In the short time he was in Miami, Hughes managed to track down Hugh Sloan, the one-time Nixon finance committee treasurer. It was at that time, Woodward and Bernstein say, that Sloan revealed to Hughes that the Dahlberg check and the Mexican money were a part of a larger cash fund kept in two safes at CREEP headquartersone in Sloan's old office and one in Stans's office. This was the secret campaign fundthe slush fundthat the P.R. officials at the White House and at campaign headquarters had insisted didn't exist.
Senator Bob Dole, the Republican national chairman and a major White House mouthpiece, said George McGovern's Democratic finance committee had committed a lot more serious violations of campaign-finance lawshe cited 14 of themand demanded that Hughes investigate the Democrats too. The Post published this story on September 13, reporting that the "General Accounting Office investigators have found only technical violations of the new campaign finance law . [by] George McGoverns election committee, according to reliable sources."
The findings contrast sharply with those from Hughes inquiry into the Nixon re-election committee, after which the GAO referred its audit to the Justice Department for criminal investigation. But, of course, the Justice Department was moving at a glacial pace in its Watergate investigation, saying frequently that it would be a disservice to the system and to the defendants to comment on the various allegations.
Sussman says he often wondered why the Post had so little media competition in the Watergate story. No other paper, he says, took the time to investigate Dole's allegations of impropriety in the financial affairs of the McGovern campaign. There was even a little skepticism at the Post, especially among members of the national staff, he says. "Be careful, they kept telling us, don't go overboard. These things happen in all campaigns."
Metropolitan Editor Rosenfeld says it didn't bother him a bit. "I was happy to be alone on the story," he recalled in a long telephone interview for this case study. "We all know what happens when one paper gets ahead of everybody else. The other guys gang up and piss on your story. Journalists are always denigrating one another."
By mid-August, Woodward, Bernstein, Simons, Sussman and others directly connected to the Watergate story were convinced that senior officials at the White Houseperhaps even the Presidenthad to be involved,. Checks for $25,000 didn't move around by themselves somebody with influence had to authorize them. One of the obstacles in pinning the story down was the campaign headquarters itself. It was like a bunker, with uniformed guards at the door. Interviews with the people inside were hard to set up and when a reporter was allowed past the gates he was accompanied by someone to the office of the person he or she had arranged to interview, and then taken in hand and led back to the gate and out the front door when he or she was finished.
Who were all those people working at CREEP headquarters? What were their telephone numbers and where did they live? Woodward and Bernstein wrote that a Washington Post researcher obtained a list of 100 CREEP employees from a friend. Another list, containing even more names, was published by Sam Hughes's agency at the GAO.
"Studying the roster became a devotional exercise not unlike reading tea leaves," Bernstein and Woodward wrote in their book. "Divining names from the list, Bernstein and Woodward, in mid-August, began visiting CRP people at their homes in the evenings," they wrote, using the third person. "The first-edition deadline was 7:45 p.m., and each night they would set out soon afterward, sometimes separately, sometimes together in Woodward's 1970 Karmann Ghia. When traveling alone, Bernstein used a company car or rode his bicycle."
They hadnt known each other very well when they began working on the story. And, in the early days, they viewed each other with a little bit of suspicion. By now, though, they were a team. This is how they described their working relationship in their book:
They realized the advantages of working together, particularly because their temperaments were so dissimilar. Each kept a master list of telephone numbers. The numbers were called at least twice a week. Eventually, the combined total of names on their lists swelled to several hundred, yet fewer than 50 were duplicated.
By this time, Bernstein and Woodward had developed their own style of working together. To those who sat nearby in the newsroom, it was obvious that Woodward-Bernstein was not always a smoothly operating piece of journalistic machinery. The two fought, often openly. Sometimes they battled for fifteen minutes over a single word or sentence. Nuances were critically important the emphasis had to be just right. The search for the journalistic mean was frequently conducted at full volume, and it was not uncommon to see one stalk away from the other's desk. Sooner or later, however (usually later), the story was hammered out.
Each developed his own filing system oddly, it was Bernstein, far the least organized of the two, who kept records neatly arranged in manila folders labeled with the names of virtually everyone they encountered. Subject files were kept as well. Woodward's record-keeping was more informal, but they both adhered to one inviolate rule: they threw nothing out and kept all their notes, and the early drafts of stories. Soon they had filled four filing cabinets.
Usually, Woodward, the faster writer, would do a first draft, then Bernstein would rewrite. Often, Bernstein would have time to rewrite only the first half of the story, leaving Woodward's second half hanging like a shirttail. The process often consumed most of the night.
Sussman says the prodecure did not always work exactly as the two reporters describe it. Often, he recalls, there was heavy editing and rewriting. "These two guys were good leg men," he says, "but they werent much better than okay in putting their thoughts together."
The door-to-door canvassing began paying off, in bits and pieces. "It was all part of a mosaic," Woodward explains. One CREEP employee told the reporters, in tears, that she was scared of what was happening, and that all kinds of documents were being shredded. Another said that Frederic LaRue, Herbert L. Porter, and Jeb Stuart Magruder, all former White House employees working at campaign headquarters, knew about the bugging of the Democratic headquarters. What amazed them both was the fact that many of these people hadn't been interviewed by Federal investigators. Woodward remembers Earl Silbert, the chief prosecutor, asking him, "Why are you believing all these women?" which even at the time he remembers as being a sexist remark.
Lurking in the background was Woodward's special friend, the man whom managing editor Simons had christened "Deep Throat " (the title of a pornographic movie popular at the time). In their book, Woodward and Bernstein described Deep Throat as a member of the Executive Branch who had access to information at both CREEP and the White House. Woodward reported later that "Deep Throat" had agreed to talk to Woodward on "deep background" with a guarantee that neither his name nor his title would ever be revealed without his permission.
At first, "Deep Throat" and Woodward talked on the telephone. But, as the story became hotter, "Deep Throat" insisted on other arrangements. He suggested that Woodward open the drapes in his apartment at 17th and P streets as a signal. "Deep Throat" would check the drapes every day. If they were open, they would meet that night. There was one problem with the arrangementWoodward liked to open the drapes to let the sun in. So they refined the procedure. Woodward had an old flowerpot with a red flag on a stick and he placed it at the front of his balcony. If he wanted to see "Deep Throat," he would move the flowerpot and the stick with the red flag to the rear of the balcony. If the pot had been moved, Woodward and "Deep Throat" would meet at 2 a.m., when downtown Washington was quiet and a little eerie, in an underground garage.
In those rare instances when "Deep Throat" wanted to initiate a meeting with Woodward, he would somehow circle page 20 in the copy of the New York Times that was delivered to Woodward's door before 7 a.m. In the lower corner of the page there would be a hand-drawn clock, the hands pointing to the hour when "Deep Throat" wanted to meet Woodward in the garage. Woodward says he still has no idea how "Deep Throat" got hold of the newspaper to make those markings.
Sussman suggests that "Deep Throat" made for good drama but not really that important as a source. The problem was, he often spoke in riddles, like the oracles at Delphi. No, he would say, you can go higher to incriminate people at a still more important level of responsibility in the campaign. Yes, you should look harder at who had access to the money.
On September 15, the five Watergate burglars, plus Hunt and Liddy, were indicted by a federal grand jury. Attorney General Richard Kleindienst said the indictments represented the culmination of "one of the most intensive, objective, and thorough investigations in many years, reaching out to cities all across the United States as well as into foreign countries."
At the Post, Woodward and Bernstein wrote in their book, there was the gnawing suspicion that this was as far as the Federal prosecutors intended to take the case. After all, they noted, the Mexican checks, the $25,000 Dahlberg check, and the slush fund stashed away in Stans's safe weren't even mentioned in the indictments.
So, mostly out on a limb all alone by now, they pushed on.
The very next day, September 16, they reported that funds used in the Watergate bugging and break-in had been "controlled by several assistants of John N. Mitchell" when he was the campaign boss. Then, on September 29, they delivered a stunner:
John N. Mitchell, while serving as U.S. Attorney General, personally controlled a secret Republican fund that was used to gather information about the Democrats, according to sources involved in the Watergate investigation.
Four other persons, they reported, eventually were given authorization to approve payments from the secret fund. They identified two of them as former Secretary of Commerce Stans, the campaign's finance chairman, and Jeb Magruder, the deputy director of the campaign. The other two were unnamed.
In putting the story together, Bernstein called Mitchell at his apartment in New York City at about 11 p.m. and read him the lead. "Jesus," Mitchell told Bernstein. "All that crap, you're putting it in the paper? It's been denied. Jesus. Katie Graham [the Post's publisher] is gonna get her tit caught in a big fat wringer if that's published. Good Christ. That's the most sickening thing I've ever heard." In the story, the quote was cleaned up to eliminate any mention of the publisher's anatomy. (It didn't bother Mrs. Graham a whole lot. A dentist in California made a little wringer with a working crank out of gold he normally used for fillings and sent it to Mrs. Graham. Later, her friend, the humor columnist Art Buchwald, gave her a tiny gold breast to go with it. "I occasionally wore them on a chain around my neck," Mrs. Graham later wrote in her autobiography.)
One result of what Woodward calls "incremental reportingtaking one step at a time, day after day, big stories and small onesis that potential sources become acquainted with your work and know who to call when they think they have something worthwhile to offer. Other papers did good work on Watergatethe Los Angeles Times, the Washington Star-News, the New York Timesbut only the Post did the kind of incremental reporting that made people aware that it was the paper with the biggest stake in the story.
Thus, the night of September 28, Bernstein received a phone call from a government lawyer with an interesting story. The caller said he had a friend named Alex Shipley who had been approached "to go to work for the Nixon campaign in a very unusual way." How unusual? Bernstein asked. Well, the caller said, his friend had been asked to join the Nixon team in the summer of 1971 to work with "a crew of people whose job it would be to disrupt the Democratic campaign during the primaries. This guy told Shipley there would be virtually unlimited money available."
Woodward and Bernstein had believed all along that the bugging and break-in at the Watergate hadn't been an isolated event it must have been, they thought, a part of a larger campaign of sabotage and obstruction. Bernstein ran down Shipley, a Democrat and an assistant attorney general in Tennessee, who said the man who tried to hire him to do dirty tricks was Donald H. Segretti, a 31-year-old lawyer in Marina del Ray, California.
Bernstein and Woodward broke this blockbuster on the front page on October 10.
FBI agents have established that the Watergate bugging incident stemmed from a massive campaign of political spying and sabotage conducted on behalf of President Nixon's re-election and directed by officials of the White House and the Committee for the Re-election of the President.
The activities, according to information in FBI and Department of Justice files, were aimed at all the major Democratic presidential contenders andsince 1971represented a basic strategy of the Nixon re-election effort.
Woodward and Bernstein hadn't actually got anything from Segretti, who refused to talk to them, but from three different people he tried to recruit for his little dirty-tricks operation, they had learned the broad outlines of what he was trying to accomplish.
They also had stumbled on to what the two reporters said was the best example they had seen so far of this kind of sabotage carried out by the Nixon re-election committee. It involved a letter to the editor published in the Manchester, N.H., Union Leader on February 24 alleging that Sen. Edmund S. Muskie of Maine, at that time the leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, had condoned the use of the derogatory word, "Canucks," to describe Americans with French-Canadian roots, who vote in large numbers in New Hampshire elections. The letter, signed by a fictional Paul Morrison of Deerfield Beach, Fla., deeply disturbed the thin-skinned Muskie and he was said to have ended up in tears talking about his troubles in a campaign speech in Manchester. It marked the beginning of the end for his campaign. Muskie's withdrawal was a coup for the Nixon strategists they had believed from the start he would be their most challenging opponent.
In their October 10 story, Bernstein and Woodward said that Ken Clawson, the White House press officer who had once been a reporter at the Post, had told Post reporter Marilyn Berger that he was the author of the Canuck letter. Maybe he was, maybe he wasn'tWoodward says he still isn't surebut the damage was done.
Two days later, Bernstein wrote a story detailing more dirty tricks played on Muskie and his campaign. They included stolen documents, faked literature, canceled rallies and mysterious telephone calls. The whole business seemed bizarre, but Deep Throat put it all in perspective. "These are not very bright guys," he told Woodward.
Both the Post and Time magazine, whose Washington bureau had good sources at the Justice Department, reported on Sunday and Monday, October 15 and 16, that Segretti had been hired for the dirty-tricks job by Dwight Chapin, Nixon's appointments secretary. At Sussman's request, Bernstein and Woodward noted that Chapin met the President on a daily basis and "is one of a handful of White House staff members with easy access to the President." In their story on the 16th, Bernstein and Woodward reported that Segretti had been paid to do his dirty tricks by Herbert Kalmbach, Nixon's lawyer.
Incrementally, one step at a time, the reporting was taking the Post closer and closer to the Oval Office itself.
This was getting serious, and at this point Sussman began to think he was being pushed aside by Rosenfeld and other top editors at the Post. "I began to feel somewhat sorry for myself" on October 16," Sussman wrote in his book, "and for the first time in a long while, I left the office in the midst of a Watergate story."
The next morning, Rosenfeld complained that Woodward and Bernstein had been difficult to work with the night before. Woodward and Bernstein complained that Rosenfeld had been a problem. That afternoon, they all met in managing editor Simons' office. Simons told them the Post was putting together a Watergate task force, with Sussman still in charge. But Sussman realized things would never be quite the same. The bureaucracy was moving in on the story.
Sussman arrived for work in the newsroom about 9:30 a.m. on October 24, and found Woodward already talking to a source on his telephone. He gave Sussman the thumbs up signal, covered the phone, and said, "We've got Haldeman." H.R. "Bob" Haldeman and his sidekick, John Ehrlichman, were Nixon's two top aides and advisors. They were a team that ran the White House. Haldeman, Nixons chief of staff, would be the biggest catch of all.
Sources were telling the two reporters that Chapin would never have hired or paid Segretti without the approval of his boss, Haldeman. Their most important source was Hugh Sloan, the former CREEP treasurer who had resigned weeks earlier, apparently because he hadn't approved of what was going on at the re-election committee. They talked to him time and time again, and they became convinced that he had hinted to them that Haldeman was one of the handful of Nixon operatives with access to the famous slush fund in Stans's safe. They also understood that Sloan had told them he had testified to that effect before the grand jury. Other sources seemed to confirm the story.
At about 6 p.m., the two reporters, along with Sussman, Rosenfeld, and Simons, met in Bradlee's office. "Bradlee began asking questions the way a prosecutor would," Sussman remembered. This was a new departure story sessions on Watergate had never been like this before. For the first time, too, lawyers were called in to read the copy.
In the end, Bradlee said, "OK, go." The story appeared on the Post's front page the morning of October 25 saying that Sloan had testified before the grand jury that Bob Haldeman was one of the men who had access to the secret campaign fund.
Throughout Watergate, Nixon Administration officials had become notorious for criticizing stories by attacking them without actually denying them. These official statements sounded like denials, but when they were carefully parsed, they did not actually contradict the allegations in the stories. Reporters even coined a term for these statements. They called them "non-denial denials." At times, when the Administration was shown to have done what it had seemingly denied doing, officials would quietly back away from those earlier statements. At one point, White House press secretary Ron Ziegler even said that one former non-denial denial was "no longer operative."
When the Hugh Sloan story hit, Woodward, Bernstein and others at the Post knew there were problems because the Administrations denials were the real thing.
"I watched the shit hit the fan on the CBS Morning News," Bradlee recalled in his book. "To my eternal horror, there was correspondent Dan Schorr with a microphone jammed in the face of Hugh Sloan and his lawyer. And the lawyer was categorical in his denial: Sloan had not testified to the grand jury that Haldeman controlled the secret fund."
Even now, Bradlee shudders at the thought. "It was terrible," he recalls. "So many people had been waiting for us to get it wrong, and here we did it. When you pick yourself off first base, and that's what we did, you can't pretend it didn't happen."
Sussman says the story was wrong on three points"Sloan hadn't told the grand jury about Haldeman, Haldeman hadn't been interviewed by the FBI as we said he had, and we had his age wrong. He was 46, not 47."
In the past, the White House had been forced to waffle on most of its explanations about the Post's stories. This time, Nixon's spokesmen jumped all over the Post with both feet. No, said Ron Ziegler at his regular morning press conference, the story wasnt true. "I personally feel," he said, "that this is shabby journalism by The Washington Post . It is a blatant effort at character assassination that I do not think has been witnessed in the political process in come time."
As it turned out, Bernstein and Woodward had the main point rightHaldeman was deeply involved with the slush fund. But they had the details wrong. For this, they paid a heavy price.
How did these two young reporters, so far ahead of everyone else on this story no one could see their dust, get the October 25 story so wrong?
There were cautionary yellow lights all along the way. One of the sources, for example, an unidentified FBI agent, was asked by Bernstein, "Are you sure it's Haldeman?" in a phone call with Woodward listening in on another line, according to Sussman's book. "Yeah," he replied, "John Haldeman." After they hung up, the two reporters looked at each other. "John Haldeman?" Haldeman's first name, of course, was Bob. So Bernstein called the source back. "You said John Haldeman, but his name is Bob." Not to worry, the agent said, it's Haldeman. "I can never remember first names."
There were more problems. Woodward and Bernstein had spent hours with Sloan, who was still reluctant to tattle on his old colleagues. He was "elliptical" in what he told the two reporters, Sussman said in his book. It was hardly a surprise, then, that the two reporters had problems writing the story. That in itself is a cautionary light. Good, clean stories tend to write themselves. Stories with problems don't flow easily.
The two reporters knew who their sources wereeven though what they had said came up shortand they had more problems in figuring out how to handle the story's attribution. They were faced with finding a way to make the story sound authoritative without exposing their reluctant or maybe confused sources.
Howard Simons, the managing editor, was uneasy, and suggested, according to Sussman, that Woodward and Bernstein try to come up with another source. According to Sussman, Bernstein piped up that he knew a source in the Justice Department who might be willing to confirm such an important story. But the source was skittish, and in the end Bernstein suggested a novel arrangement in which the source would say nothing if the story was right and hang up if it was wrong. The source agreed and used the signal that Bernstein understood meant that the story about Haldeman's involvement was correct.
In his book, Sussman told what happened next:
"That's madness, Carl," I said. "Don't ever do anything like that. Bernstein and Woodward knew a lot more about the details of what they were reporting than I did. But here was Bernstein saying that he was able to confirm a story damaging to the President of the United States and his chief of staff through the silence of a balky source. Maybe that could work in the movies, but not in The Washington Post."
The story ran on schedule in the Post. A year later, Sussman bumped into the balky Justice Department source. He told Sussman that "Carl got his own signals mixed up. I didn't give him the 'confirm' signal, I gave him the 'deny.'"
Bernstein's arrangement with his source was too clever by half. Sussman was right to be outraged. Yet, no one blew the whistle on the story. Everyone wanted the story to be right. Everyone wanted to nail Nixon's chief of staff.
Publicly, the Post's initial reaction was a statement from Bradlee that the Post stood behind its story. Internally, however, the editors and reporters knew better. They did argue that the story was "basically true" because Haldeman was really involved, even though Sloan hadn't explicitly said so in his appearance before the grand jury. Yet, they admitted to themselves, and later publicly, and even to this day, that they blew the story. They knew that if the details were wrong, the story was inaccurate. And they vowed to examine where they had gone wrong and do better in the future. None of the principals involved in the story defends those mistakes as mere details.
Two weeks later, on November 7, Nixon was re-elected president, defeating George McGovern by 18 million votes (60.7% to 37.5%).
For the White House, it was retribution time. No more news for the Post the White House dumped it all in the laps of the Star-News. Even Dorothy McCardle, the nice 68-year-old lady who covered social events at the White House for the Post, was cut off. The Post thought it was curious, too, that two of its TV stations in Florida suddenly had their licenses challenged.
Worst of all, though, the Post fell into what Bradlee called a "black hole." "We couldn't get a smell of a story," he wrote.
Desperate to make some news, Bernstein and Woodward tried to get in touch with the grand jurors handling the Watergate investigation in late November. They came very close to being thrown in jail for their efforts. "I am sure we were all influenced by Nixon's overwhelming re-election win, on top of our own inability to break new ground in the Watergate story," Bradlee wrote. He went on to defend the exercise, but without very much enthusiasm. Bernstein and Woodward, in their book, conceded it was "a seedy venture" and said they wished they had never thought of it.
Early in December, Post reporter Lawrence Meyer discovered that a White House phone used by Howard Hunt had been installed in a woman's home in Alexandria. The telephone company said it had never seen anything quite like it. It wasn't much of a story but it put the Post back in the game. "We won a $2 bet," Woodward says.
But, for all the Post's gloom, the cavalry was on the way.
"What you have to remember," says Woodward, "is that while maybe everyone wasn't reading about Watergate, we had two subscribers who were reading every word." One of them was John Sirica, the chief judge of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, a very tough judge known, not always affectionately, as "Maximum John." The other was Democratic Senator Sam Ervin from North Carolina, a very smart country lawyer.
The trial of the five Watergate burglars and Liddy and McCord began in Judge Sirica's courtroom on Monday, January 8, 1973. This marks the end of the Post's lone-ranger coverage of the Watergate story. Now, with an actual trial under way, with real people doing real things, reporters from other newspapers and magazines and from radio and TV could finally get their teeth into the story.
Bradlee wrote he was actually pleased to be beaten on an important story by his old friend, Seymour M. "Sy" Hersh and the New York Times, "because it meant the Post was no longer alone in alleging obstruction of justice by the administration." Hersh had reported that the Watergate defendants were being paid hush money with funds that appeared to have been raised for the Nixon re-election campaign. Bradlee said one story like that was fine, "as long as we didn't get beaten again."
Sirica wasn't pleased with the way the trial was progressing. He had read all those Post stories, and he was convinced there was a lot more at stake than a bugging and burglary at Democratic Party headquarters. He got the break he needed when McCord wrote him a letter saying pressure had been applied to keep the defendants quiet and that perjury had been committed.
More damaging information came from the hearings to confirm L. Patrick Gray's appointment as FBI director. On February 5, Senator Ervin introduced a resolution calling for an allocation of $500,000 to fund the operation of a Special Senate Committee to investigate Watergate. The resolution passed 77 to 0. Woodward interpreted that to mean that possibly Nixon's support on Capitol Hill was beginning to erode.
On April 30, Haldeman, Ehrlichman, and Attorney General Kleindienst resigned, and John Dean was fired. James McCartney, the respected national correspondent for Knight Newspapers, was in Bradlee's office when the news came in, interviewing the editor for a long freelance piece in the Columbia Journalism Review. McCartney wrote:
Howard Simons, the Post's managing editor, slipped into the room. "Nixon has accepted the resignations of Ehrlichman and Haldeman and Dean," he said. "Kleindienst is out and [Elliot] Richardson is the new attorney general."
For a split second, Ben Bradlee's mouth dropped open with an expression of sheer delight. Then he put one cheek on the desk, eyes closed, and banged the desk repeatedly with his right fist. "How do you like them apples?" he said to the grinning Simons. "Not a bad start." Then, addressing the visitor: "The White Hats Win."
. Bradlee couldn't restrain himself. He strode into the Post's vast fifth-floor newsroom, and shouted across rows of desks to reporter Bob Woodward. "Not bad, Bob! Not half bad."
Still, it wasn't over. Everything around him was collapsing, but Nixon was still standing. It needed something more. By May 17, when the Watergate committee began its televised hearings, there was only one name left in their files that Bernstein and Woodward had never thoroughly checked outpresidential aide Alexander P. Butterfield. Sloan had once told them that Butterfield was involved in "internal security." "Deep Throat" had said he might be interesting. Woodward passed the word to investigators for Ervin's Watergate committee. Maybe, he said, it would be a good idea to interview Butterfield. Sam Dash, the committee counsel, set up the interview for Friday, July 13, 1973, surely the unluckiest day of all for Richard Nixon.
The next morning, Woodward received a phone call from a senior investigator. "We interviewed Butterfield," he said. "He told the whole story."
What whole story? Woodward asked.
"Nixon bugged himself," the investigator replied.
Woodward called Bradlee at home Saturday night and told him what he had learned. Bradlee, half-asleep, didn't seem very interested.
"How would you rate the story?" Woodward asked.
On Monday, before a national television audience, Butterfield laid out the whole story about how the President of the United States had recorded all those terribly incriminating conversations in his own office.
"OK," Bradlee said the next day, "it's more than a B-plus."
Woodward says it was the only time during the whole pursuit of the story that Bradlee was wrong.
Events now moved slowly but inexorably.
On July 23, Nixon refused to turn over the tape recordings to the Senate committee. On October 20, in what became known as the "Saturday Night Massacre", he fired Archibald Cox as the Watergate special prosecutor and abolished his office. Attorney General Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William D. Ruckelshaus resigned in protest.
It wasn't until July 24, 1974, that the Supreme Court ruled, unanimously, that Nixon had to turn over the tapes, in which investigators finally found the "smoking gun." Three days later, the House Judiciary Committee passed the first of three impeachment articles, obstruction of justice.
On August 8, 1974, Nixon resigned as President. His vice president, Gerald R. Ford, succeeded him.
Legacy: A No Watergate Scandal Timeline
Interesting to see Reagan mostly as successful as his OTL term. So long as Iran is kept under control, then the economy will generally begin to recover, and if it comes back at the same pace as 83-84, then Reagan has a decent shot at reelection. I don't know if it will be as big as '84, but somewhere comfortably in the 300's isn't out of the question. If that happens, then the real question will become '84, and whether that will trigger a Democratic resurgence, or the Republicans maintain their hold on the White House. At least for now, the Blue Dog Democrats are still in power and the Democrats may be pushed somewhat to the right.
Good to see the South stay strong and Pol Pot be pushed out. Looks like the Vietnam War will be remembered as a victory, though a hard fought and painful one. So far the Cold War is swinging towards America, and the ball is in Brezhnev's court.
In Iran, protests greatly diminish. Though some peaceful protests take place, the sporadic violent protests which do take place are quickly put down by the American and Iranian forces. In America, unemployment remains at a peak (11%).
February 1st, 1979
Ayatollah Khomeini arrives in Tehran, Iran, with his arrival being greeted by millions of Iranians.
February 10th, 1979
Khomeini denounces America as "the Great Satan" and declares Jihad against American forces as well as Shah loyalists in the Iranian military. Khomeini loyalists, along with left-wing revolutionaries and some defectors in the Iranian army, attempt to loot weapons from police stations and other government facilities and kill all American and pro-Shah forces. The US army and Iranian loyalists quickly put down the huge amounts of violent protests, with some casualties being taken due to the Iranian army defectors.
February 11th, 1979
The world watches in horror as violence rules the street in Iran. Violent protests get very frequent as mobs attempt to kill all American and pro-Shah forces, with these violent protests being put down. Some casualties are taken by the United States due to the widespread anarchy.
Mid-Late February 1979
Violent protests keep occurring, slightly diminishing, as many of the violent revolutionaries are killed. Khomeini ups his rhetoric, claiming that every person who opposes the shah has a moral duty to join the revolutionaries. With America realizing Khomeini is the driving force behind the violence, Reagan attempts to organize a mission to capture Khomeini, working with Iranian loyalist forces. In America, unemployment finally starts to drop, signaling an end to the major recession. In South Vietnam, inflation finally starts to drop due to Thieu's economic reforms.
Early-Mid March 1979
Though the amount of violence drops slightly in Iran, the organization of the violence and attacks increases dramatically. It becomes obvious to Iranian loyalists and the Americans that Khomeini is spearheading the organization of the violence. The search efforts for Khomeini are doubled as the mission is changed from a capture to a shoot on sight mission.
March 18th, 1979. Isfahan, Iran. 11:00 AM, Local time.
All of SAVAK’s intelligence had led the US Special Forces to the outskirts of Isfahan, Iran. There, Ayatollah Khomeini, the dangerous rebel leader in Iran, was suspected to have been hiding. The organizer and mastermind behind the organized violent protests, Khomeini’s influence and power over the revolution was unquestionably strong. As the US Special Forces spied on the complex reported to be the location of Khomeini, the American forces took note of the unusually large number of bodyguards surrounding the house as well as the secrecy of the compound. All of the intelligence had led to the compound as being the place where the leader was hiding. The American forces reported the layout of the compound to the Iranian loyalist forces. The rest of the day, they planned the raid to take out the dangerous, influential opposition leader. The raid would take place in two days, at 2:30 AM.
March 20th, 1979. Isfahan, Iran. 2:30 AM, Local time.
As American Special Forces entered the compound where Khomeini was hiding, bodyguards quickly spotted the soldiers and fired at them, alerting Khomeini. The American forces neutralized the threat from Khomeini's armed guards as Khomeini entered into a getaway vehicle as an armed getaway driver quickly left the compound and drove away. American forces quickly rushed to the car and managed to shoot one of the tires on the car and contact Iranian Air Force about the attempted getaway of Khomeini. As Khomeini's broken vehicle attempted to enter downtown Isfahan in order to escape from the Americans, the Americans were able to get within shooting range of the car. Khomeini's armed getaway driver got out of the car with an automatic rifle, firing at the American Soldiers as Khomeini ran towards the city. The sharpshooter in the American team was able to get a long-range lethal shot on the shooter, leaving only Khomeini, defenseless. As Khomeini was about to leave the sparsely-populated hills and enter downtown Isfahan, three Iranian helicopters shot at Khomeini, flying directly towards him, forcing him to run back towards the American forces. Khomeini was boxed in with nowhere to go, and quickly after turning and running towards the American forces, a member of the team shot at Khomeini three times, with the three bullets hitting Khomeini in the chest. Khomeini dropped to the ground. Once the soldiers reached Khomeini, they confirmed that he was indeed dead.
March 21st, 1979.
The Shah announces to the country that the dangerous extremist, Ayatollah Khomeini, has been killed by American and Iranian forces. The Shah declares that all violence will be handled with all force necessary, denouncing the radical and violent elements of the protests. The organization of the violence in Iran dramatically decreases due to the death of the leader.
Protests in Iran subside dramatically as violent protests are immediately shot down, with the violence being very sporadic and unorganized as few American casualties are taken. A large portion of the Iranian population who were initially protesting now do not support the protests, as they have gotten increasingly radical in both ideology and violence, and the violent suppression of all such protests further sways public opinion against protesting. In Nicaragua, the Somoza regime finds itself increasingly unable to defeat the FSLN. The Organization of American States attempts to negotiate between the FSLN and the Somoza regime. The negotiations collapse as people realize Somoza has no intention of making the country a democracy. The Somoza regime finds itself in a poor situation, though the increased American aid will help to at least temporarily stop the FSLN. In South Vietnam, the seeds of a major economic recovery are shown as major businesses worldwide are starting to use South Vietnam as a large manufacturing and outsourcing base due to Thieu's free trade and market reforms. As some in South Vietnam receive jobs due to the manufacturing companies' expansion, quality of life improves, though very slowly, as inflation still remains a large issue. Thieu embarks on a campaign to clean up corruption in the South Vietnamese government in order to speed up the economic development of the country as roads continue to be developed. In America, unemployment begins to drop rapidly as more and more Americans get employed. In Afghanistan, many are discontented with the oppressive Communist regime, and large parts of the country rebel against the government.
The American economy takes off as unemployment quickly drops. News media outlets constantly tell the American public how fast the economy has recovered and how much it improves. Many give credit to Reagan for the economy as Reagan's approval rating begins to rapidly increase. Reagan pushes in Congress for further deregulation, further public spending cuts, and further military budget increases. In Iran, violence continues to subside, with violent protests being an occurrence every now and then. Reagan has a meeting with his cabinet members in order to discuss how long American soldiers should stay in Iran. Reagan's staff advises that the soldiers stay at bare minimum another six months, in order to ensure that the protests have indeed subsided sufficiently. In Nicaragua, more are killed in the uprising by the FSLN against the Somoza regime.
Unrest and protests in Iran subside, with very few violent protests or general protests against the Shah by the end of July. The general populace of the country does not see value in further protesting, as the US military has kept the Shah in power. Anti-american sentiment has grown a good amount in the country, with some reminiscing over what the US did in Operation Ajax as being similar to the US intervention in the 1979 uprising. The Iranian economy continues to recover from it's drastic slump of multiple years as inflation drops in the country, further decreasing revolutionary sentiment. The Somoza regime attempts to crackdown more severely on all allies of the FSLN as more die in Nicaragua. The American economy continues to improve dramatically as Reagan's popularity soars. Reagan pushes major military budget increases through Congress. The US military has dramatically improved from 1976 due to Reagan's build-up. China cuts off even more aid to North Vietnam under the rule of Deng Xiaoping, who focuses on opening China to market reforms. China had already drastically cut aid to North Vietnam in the past 3 years, but the cutting off of aid in this period lead to a severe logistics shortage in the entire PAVN as China becomes increasingly hostile towards North Vietnam.
August 10th, 1979.
A very large march of conservative Christians march on Washington D.C. in support of Ronald Reagan. In the march, Reagan speaks to the crowd, emphasizing the importance of family values, and how America must rediscover her values and become a Christian society. Reagan emphasizes how much Evangelicalism has grown throughout the past decade and how this new conservative movement which has grown rapidly in the past five years must grow further and become an influential force in American society.
Mid-Late August 1979
In Cambodia, Lon Nol's army, backed by large American aid, as well as ARVN ground support, rapidly retakes much of the last remaining Khmer Rouge strongholds in the Eastern side of Cambodia. The Khmer Rouge is all but destroyed, with the final remaining stronghold being the Northeast of Cambodia, on the border of Laos and South Vietnam. The towns and provinces liberated by Nol's army and the ARVN welcome the troops with joy, relieved at no longer being under Rouge control. The leader of the Khmer Rouge movement, Pol Pot, flees to the final remaining territories under Rouge control.
The ARVN continues to receive valuable funding from the United States as it develops into an extremely advanced fighting force. Nguyen van Thieu takes notice of the drastic cut-off of Chinese aid to North Vietnam and decides to schedule a meet-up of the Cambodian, South Vietnamese, and Laotian leaders in order to discuss the plans for a final offensive which would end all communist presence in Indochina outside of North Vietnam. Thieu schedules the meeting for next month, and invites American president Ronald Reagan to the meeting. In Afghanistan, leader Nur Mohammad Taraki is murdered by a rival, Hafizullah Amin, greatly souring relations between Afghanistan and Russia, and further destabilizing the region as unrest continues against the Communist government throughout the country.
October 15th, 1979.
In the Latin American country of El Salvador, the Revolutionary Government Junta (JRG) deposes the President in a coup.
October 26th, 1979.
South Korean leader Park Chung-hee is assassinated in Seoul, South Korea. Ronald Reagan and Nguyen Van Thieu both hear the news, devastated, as they have lost a critical and powerful leader.
October 30th, 1979. Saigon, South Vietnam.
Nguyen Van Thieu looked out and admired the metropolis of Saigon from Independence Palace. Today, Thieu, Nol, Reagan, and Phouma (Laotian leader) would all meet in order to discuss a final offensive to end all Communist presence in Indochina outside of North Vietnam. "Greetings, Mr. Thieu," said Reagan. Thieu turned around and happily greeted President Reagan. If it were not for Reagan's aid increases and large American Air Support, South Vietnam would be going through a very difficult time. Reagan had made Thieu's life much easier, and for that reason Thieu was very fond of Reagan. Reagan and Thieu sat down at the conference table when Lon Nol joined the group. Both greeted Nol as all three sat down at the table. "What is the situation in Indochina, Mr. Thieu?" probed Reagan. Thieu smiled. "Things are going well, but there is something I have planned, which we should all discuss. We are just waiting on our last member." As the three waited for about ten minutes, Nol asked, "Who are we waiting for, and why is this person so important? Can we just discuss whatever it is you have planned right now?" "No, Nol. We haven't been in contact with this leader for a long time now, and frankly, he has a situation in his country far worse than both of ours. His input and cooperation will be absolutely necessary for the plan I have." As Nol began to lose his patience, the door to the room opened as Laotian leader Souvanna Phouma walked into the room slowly, glaring at the others. Reagan greeted the man with a smile. Phouma glared back, not replying. "Take a seat, Mr. Phouma," said Thieu. Phouma took a seat at the conference table, and finally said, "All of you have been neglecting my country and the war it has been going through. Congratulations on your Saint Patrick's Day Offensive, Thieu, and congratulations on wiping out the Khmer Rouge, Nol. Yet here I am, still having to deal with the Pathet Lao controlling over half of my country. I take it that you invited me here for a good reason, as you know I almost retired my position in 1974. I only stayed because Nixon's commitment to helping you two made me hold out, thinking things would get better." Thieu inhaled sharply, looking at both Nol and Reagan. "Phouma," replied Thieu, "I'm sorry that you've had to deal with a situation that's more difficult than either of us, and we'd really like to thank you for staying in power. If you had left, the Lao forces would be so disorganized and without a leader, I don't know how they would deal with anything the Pathet Lao would throw at them. I invited you hear today because we are going to make your situation better, Phouma. The Pathet Lao shall be crushed, and your country shall be united under your rule." Phouma leaned in, interested in what Thieu had to say. "Go on, Thieu, explain to Phouma and to all of us what your brilliant plan is," said Nol. Thieu smiled. "As you all know, my friend here, President Reagan, has greatly helped us. He has increased the funding towards us and has given us American Air Support so that we can defeat the PAVN and other communist forces, as we saw in the Saint Patrick's Day Offensive. In addition, China has just recently grew even more hostile to the North and cut off more funding. The North are facing a terrible logistics problem," Thieu explained, "if President Reagan keeps funding us for a couple of years, we could undertake one-one final offensive to give South Vietnam all territory below the 17th parallel, one final offensive to destroy the final Khmer Rouge stronghold, one final offensive to destroy the Pathet Lao and finally destroy the Ho Chi Minh trail." Reagan looked shocked. Reagan replied timidly, "Mr. Thieu, that seems like a very ambitious plan. Are you absolutely certain that this can be done? I understand that the Saint Patrick's Day offensive was a success, but this seems to be a whole different beast. We are going to try to expel all Communist forces from Indochina outside of North Vietnam. Are you absolutely certain that an objective of this scale and magnitude can be achieved?" Thieu replied, "So long as you keep funding us and will provide air support for the mission, Mr. President, this mission could be undertaken successfully two years from now." Phouma spoke up. "I am thrilled that you now want to help my country in the difficult state it is in, Thieu, but I share the same feelings as Mr. Reagan. I need your absolute assurance that this mission will succeed. If it fails, it may make China feel threatened by us, and do a complete turnaround of their policy on North Vietnam. Remember, it's no secret they absolutely hate each other, they are only grudgingly giving them some funding because they view us as a bigger threat. Should this mission fail, my country shall be in an even worse position." Thieu addressed the concern. "Phouma, the ARVN is only getting stronger each day as the funding from the United States keeps rolling in. The PAVN is only getting weaker each day as China gets less and less tolerant of North Vietnam's shenanigans. I also don't think it's much of a secret that North Vietnam has stopped the total war effort and has focused on rebuilding their country ever since President Reagan took office. The lack of military funding and focus on military in the North will severely weaken them. Should President Reagan increase the funding towards our countries, improve the American Air Force, and provide us air support during the offensive, there is no question about the outcome." Thieu looked over to Reagan. "I will ensure that that will be the case should I be re-elected," Reagan replied, "I don't think my re-election will be much of an issue, my popularity is very high. I will likely get more of my party's seats in Congress so that I will be able to push for increased funding towards your countries. And mark my word, the military build-up will continue, and you will get air support for the mission." Thieu smiled, looking at all the leaders. "Then it's settled. In two years, we shall launch our final offensive-an offensive to end this war. Should Mr. Reagan do everything he has told me, the outcome is certain, given good planning. I will have two years to plan this offensive to perfection, and I can coordinate with you two if you would like," Thieu said, looking at Phouma and Nol. "Thank you very much, Mr. President," said Thieu. "You are very, very welcome, Mr. Thieu. As I said before, I would rather see Washington D.C. fall to the Soviets than see Saigon fall to North Vietnam. You shall have every dollar of extra funding that I can squeeze out of Congress, and you shall have every single American Air Force jet provide you with total support in this offensive. All I ask in return is that you plan the offensive well, notify me of the plan at least 3 months before the offensive, and coordinate with the other two leaders here," replied Reagan. "As you wish, Mr. President," said Thieu, smiling. Phouma, Nol, and Thieu agreed to meet up in January of next year in the same room in order to discuss the plan Thieu had came up with with the help of his military advisors. "The era of communist tyranny is over. In a couple of years, the people of Indochina shall be free," Thieu said, looking out again to the bustling metropolis of Saigon.
Unrest in Iran virtually stops entirely as many become content with the status quo. The Iranian economy continues to rebound from the difficult economic times of the mid-1970s as American soldiers maintain a large presence in the country. The Somoza regime in Nicaragua is virtually surrounded by the FSLN, which controls all territory in the country except the capital. In America, the economy continues to improve rapidly as Reagan's popularity continues to grow.
The world watches in shock as the Soviet Union invades Afghanistan to help the failing Communist government survive and defeat the Afghan rebels. In neighboring Iran, many feel threatened by the Soviet invasion of a bordering country. The fear from a neighboring invasion all but completely ends the remaining unrest in the country as many Iranians now see the war in neighboring Afghanistan as a direct threat to their existence. Anti-soviet sentiment begins to increase in the country. In Nicaragua, Somoza finally resigns as leader after the bloody revolution, allowing the Communist FSLN to take full control of the country. America sees both of these events as horrible, and much of the American public believes something must be done to stop the newly Communist Nicaragua and the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan. Reagan addresses the country on television, explaining that freedom in the world was dealt a huge blow in the month, and that the United States would use any means necessary to protect the freedom of the world.
Thousands march in the streets of Tehran in an anti-Soviet protest. Anti-soviet sentiment continues to increase in the country as Iran continues to feel threatened by Soviet expansion. In response to the Communist expansion worldwide, Reagan pushes to begin funding the Afghan resistance, the Nicaraguan Contra rebels, and the Salvadoran government. His proposals receive little resistance in Congress. Reagan meets up with the now dying Shah in Tehran and asks him to consider intervening in Afghanistan, emphasizing how the strong Iranian forces could make the war much more difficult for the Soviets and help him keep political popularity by rallying the populace towards a common enemy. The Shah states that he will consider doing so. The American economy continues to improve as Reagan remains as popular as ever. The Democratic party has multiple candidates for the 1980 presidential election: Henry Jackson, Gary Hart, Jesse Jackson, and Jerry Brown are the frontrunners. The Republican party has no serious challengers to Ronald Reagan. The Soviet Union begins to take many cities and military bases in Afghanistan.
Reagan pushes a tax cut bill and a deregulation bill through Congress as the economy continues to improve. As the Democratic primaries start, it appears that Henry Jackson and Gary Hart have a slight advantage. A massive anti-Soviet rally in Isfahan, Iran occurs, with tens of thousands of fundamentalist Shiite Muslims denouncing the Soviet Union as "an anti-God regime that must die." The American soldiers do not attempt in the slightest to break up the rally. The Soviet Union continues through Afghanistan and occupies more cities and military bases. In El Salvador, the government attempts a land reform program in order to try and quell rebellious sentiment.
100,000 individuals march in Tehran, Iran, denouncing and decrying the Soviet Union. The rally is attended by various groups, including Islamic fundamentalists, Shah loyalists, and the previous liberal opposition towards the Shah over two years earlier. Anti-soviet sentiment has reached an all-time high in the country. The Shah's illness continues to plague him as his advisers explain that getting involved in Afghanistan would be a wise idea. The Nicaraguan Contras begin to undertake operations against the Sandinista government. In the Democratic primaries, Jerry Brown leaps ahead of both Gary Hart and Jesse Jackson. Henry Jackson emerges, however, as the forerunner, as the Democratic party had nominated liberals from the party in the past two elections, with no success. America was also becoming much more pro-interventionist than several years before, leading to a significant advantage for Jackson as the Party's nominee. Reagan continues to deregulate and increase military spending. Reagan manages to convince Congress to fund Imperial Iran in order to improve their army quality for a potential war against the Soviets. In May 1980, large numbers of American troops begin to leave the country as unrest against the Shah is virtually gone. In Afghanistan, the opposition Mujahideen wage a guerilla war against the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union deals with difficulty in the war, with over 80% of the country not being in their control.
American troops finish their withdrawal from Iran as the dying Shah decides to militarily support the Mujahideen and send the Iranian military in. The Iranian populace rallies against the Soviet Union as many enlist in the military.
In America, the 1980 Republican National Convention occurs, and Reagan is easily selected as the nominee, with Connally as Vice President. The Mujahideen, with assistance from the Iranian military, wreaks havoc upon the Soviet troops. More and more Iranians continue to join the military and rally against the Soviets. The Shah dies from cancer on July 27th, 1980. His son, Reza Pahlavi, comes to power. Reza Pahlavi quickly decides to liberalize many elements of the government, including allowing other political parties than the Rastakhiz party to be active in government. However, his advisors tell him to liberalize slowly in order to ensure that he keeps power. Reza Pahlavi decides to end many of the repressive government policies, allowing some free speech and limiting the power of SAVAK.
The new Iranian monarch, Reza Pahlavi, becomes very popular due to his easing of repressive policies and restrictions on free speech. Reza Pahlavi goes on television, announcing all of the reforms he has undertaken, and emphasizes how dangerous of a threat the Soviet Union is, calling for the support of all Iranians against the "evil, godless regime." In America, the Democratic National Convention occurs, and Henry Jackson emerges as the party's nominee, with him taking in about 62% of the vote, and Brown taking about 30% of the vote. Jackson chooses Brown as his running mate in order to appeal to the Democratic Party's liberals.
The Iranian military continues to assist the Mujahideen against the Soviet Union, wreaking havoc upon the Soviet forces, who are not equipped to deal with the combined forces of the Imperial Iranian military and the Mujahideen guerrillas. Reagan changes policy from funding the Mujahideen large-scale to funding Iran large-scale, reasoning that Iran is both better equipped and a more reliable ally. The first presidential debate occurs in Baltimore, Maryland. In it, Jackson and Reagan debate over economy and welfare policies. Reagan argues for a continuation of the supply-side policies, which, he claims, led to the current strong economy. Jackson argues for more government intervention and a continuation of welfare policies. Both candidates agree on foreign policy, stating that valuable anti-communist allies must be funded worldwide, though Jackson argues that the large military buildup under Reagan is somewhat unnecessary.
South Vietnam's inflation rate, dropping for the past year, finally goes below 50% and exits hyperinflation. The curbing of inflation further incentivizes international businesses to invest into South Vietnam. Thieu claims that his campaign to clean up corruption has succeeded. More in South Vietnam begin to receive manufacturing jobs as real economic potential is shown. Reza Pahlavi implements more reforms, allowing for much more freedom of speech and expression without fear of repression from SAVAK. The Soviet Union attempts to increase the amount of funding and troops in Afghanistan as the war shows signs of difficulty. The second presidential debate occurs in Cleveland, Ohio. Jackson and Reagan again argue over the best economic and welfare policies. Jackson continues his earlier strategy of campaigning in the South, believing that his conservative views on war could sway much of the South in his direction.
November 4, 1980
Ronald Reagan comfortably watches the presidential election at home, not anxious over the results. Jackson's strategy may have worked four years ago, but Reagan's popularity as an incumbent was simply too much for Jackson to be competitive in the South.
Ronald Reagan: 56.5%
Henry Jackson: 42.4%
It was a resounding success for the Republicans in Congress as well. The Republicans picked up over 20 seats in the House, while the Senate maintained its Status Quo. The House remained with a slight Democratic majority while the Senate remained Republican.
The Soviet War in Afghanistan gets more difficult as the Iranian military and Mujahideen continue to greatly disrupt the Soviets. Inflation continues to slowly drop in South Vietnam as the economy continues to slowly but surely grow.