After the 1972 break-in and detention of the five burglars a massive cover-up operation began inside the white house. Thanks to the efforts of reporters like Woodward and his colleague Carl Bernstein, the world would eventually learn the truth. The foreshadowing of the Watergate started when the attorney general claimed that presidential powers permitted the use of wiretapping without the permission of courts. Nixon’s character is revealed in a series of tapes released after his resignation. In one of them, he thinks aloud about using mafia mobsters to break up anti-war demonstrations. The president was so paranoid about plots against him that he set up a secret investigations unit known as the plumbers. One of their first tasks was to draw up a priority list of twenty of the president’s political enemies. At the top was Senator Edward Kennedy. The unit also discussed the possible killing of crusading newspaper columnist Jack Anderson and the sabotage of Democratic rallies.
By the time the full extent of the Watergate scandal became known, the Watergate had long since meant more than an office break-in. As the investigation neared its dramatic conclusion in 1974, the affair had brought down two attorney generals. As if that were not enough, it was eventually discovered that Nixon had been telling bare-face lies to the American people when he reassured them that he had no knowledge of the break-in. But the records and tapes indicated otherwise, and moves were mounting to have him impeached. In fact, the justice committee of the House of Representatives had already recommended impeachment. It stated that Richard Nixon has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President; such conduct warrants impeachment and trial, and removal from office. Despite these strong words, Nixon still refused to yield his office, telling the nation: “I have no intention whatever of ever walking away from the job I was elected to do by the American people. However, the Watergate scandal was then rolling at full speed. White house aide Alexander Butterfield disclosed that since 1970 Nixon had secretly recorded all conversations and phone calls in his office. Congress demanded that the tapes be handed over. But Nixon refused to yield the tapes, claiming executive privilege. Eventually realizing he head no choice, Nixon offered to hand over summary transcripts of the tapes. Archibald Cox has been appointed to co-ordinate the Watergate probes. He was soon fired by the president’s hand-picked attorney general. It was clean to everyone however, that Nixon was fighting a losing battle. The tapes would have eventually revealed him as a liar.
In addition, irregularities were found in Nixon’s tax returns. It was also disclosed that he had used about ten million dollars to improve his homes in Florida and California. He has become a virtual prisoner in the White House. Members of the plumbers team were all found guilty of conspiracy, and twelve days later, the supreme court ruled unanimously, that Nixon had no choice but to turn over sixty-four missing tapes with his conversations and telephone calls.
The end came finally, on 9 August. Knowing that he was now certain to be impeached by the Congress, Nixon resigned the presidency in an emotional farewell address. Then he retreated to his home in California- a bitter, broken man. Yet, thanks to the best healer-time, Nixon is today considered by many as a first-rate world statesman. In effect, his renaissance began less than a month after his exit from Washington, when his hand-picked successor, Gerald Ford, pardoned him of all criminal doings while he was in office. In the years since, Nixon has tried to play down the horrors of Watergate. He prefers to say that he should have acted more quickly to defuse the situation. He recalled: “Looking back on what is still in my mind a complex and confusing mass of events, decisions, pressures, and personalities, one thing I can see clearly now is that I was wrong in not acting more decisively and more forthrightly in dealing with Watergate. (…) I know that many fair-minded people believe that my motivation and actions in the Watergate affaire were intentionally self-serving and illegal. I know I understand how my own mistakes and misjudgments have contributed to that belief.” Nixon, who was revealed as both liar and cheat for the whole world to see, still cannot bring himself to admit that it was he who was to blame.
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Nixon in Watergate
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