ⓘ Timeline of the Watergate scandal

                                     

ⓘ Timeline of the Watergate scandal

The Watergate Scandal refers to the burglary and illegal wiretapping of the Washington, D.C. headquarters of the Democratic National Committee, in the Watergate complex, by members of President of the United States Richard Nixons re-election committee and subsequent abuse of powers by the president and administration officials to halt or hinder the investigation into same.

                                     

1. 1970s

  • May 2, 1972: J. Edgar Hoover dies; L. Patrick Gray is appointed acting FBI director.
  • October 12, 1973: Gerald Ford is nominated as Vice President under the 25th Amendment.
  • June 17, 1972: The plumbers are arrested at 2:30 a.m. in the process of burglarizing and planting surveillance bugs in the Democratic National Committee offices at the Watergate Building Complex.
  • July 18, 1973: Nixon orders White House taping systems disconnected.
  • June 3, 1973: John Dean tells Watergate investigators that he has discussed the cover-up with Nixon at least 35 times.
  • September 3, 1971: "White House Plumbers" E. Howard Hunt, G. Gordon Liddy, and others break into the offices of Daniel Ellsbergs psychiatrist Lewis Fielding looking for material that might discredit Ellsberg, under the direction of John Ehrlichman or his staff within the White House. This was the Plumbers first major operation.
  • July 13, 1973: Alexander Butterfield, former presidential appointments secretary, reveals that all conversations and telephone calls in Nixons office have been taped since 1971.
  • September 15, 1972: Hunt, Liddy, and the Watergate burglars are indicted by a federal grand jury.
  • January 8, 1973: Five defendants plead guilty as the burglary trial begins. Liddy and James W. McCord Jr. are convicted after the trial.
  • Vice President replaced
  • May 19, 1973: Independent special prosecutor Archibald Cox appointed to oversee investigation into possible presidential impropriety.
  • February 28, 1973: Confirmation hearings begin for confirming L. Patrick Gray as permanent Director of the FBI. During these hearings, Gray reveals that he had complied with an order from John Dean to provide daily updates on the Watergate investigation, and also that Dean had "probably lied" to FBI investigators.
  • May 17, 1973: The Senate Watergate Committee begins its nationally televised hearings.
  • March 17, 1973: Watergate burglar McCord writes a letter to Judge John Sirica, claiming that some of his testimony was perjured under pressure and that the burglary was not a CIA operation, but had involved other government officials, thereby leading the investigation to the White House.
  • November 7, 1972: Nixon re-elected, defeating George McGovern with the largest plurality of votes in American history.
  • April 6, 1973: White House counsel John Dean begins cooperating with federal Watergate prosecutors.
  • July 1, 1971: David Young and Egil "Bud" Krogh write a memo suggesting the formation of what later became called the "White House Plumbers" in response to the leak of the Pentagon Papers by Daniel Ellsberg.
  • July 23, 1973: Nixon refuses to turn over presidential tapes to Senate Watergate Committee or the special prosecutor.
  • August 21, 1971: Nixons Enemies List is started by White House aides though Nixon himself may not have been aware of it; to "use the available federal machinery to screw our political enemies."
  • June 20, 1972: Reportedly based on a tip from Deep Throat associate director of the FBI Mark Felt, Bob Woodward reports in the Washington Post that one of the burglars had E. Howard Hunt in his address book and possessed checks signed by Hunt, and that Hunt was connected to Charles Colson.
  • By early 1972, the Plumbers, at this stage assigned to the Committee to Re-Elect the President CRP, had become frustrated at the lack of additional assignments they were being asked to perform, and that any plans and proposals they suggested were being rejected by CRP. Liddy and Hunt took their complaints to the White House – most likely to Charles Colson – and requested that the White House start putting pressure on CRP to assign them new operations. It is likely that both Colson and White House Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman did so, starting the train of events that led to the Watergate break-ins a few months later. This narrative was confirmed in the famous "Cancer on the Presidency" conversation between Nixon and White House Counsel John Dean on March 21, 1973.
  • June 23, 1972: In the Oval Office, H.R. Haldeman recommends to President Nixon that they attempt to shut down the FBI investigation of the Watergate break-in, by having CIA Director Richard Helms and Deputy Director Vernon A. Walters tell acting FBI Director L. Patrick Gray to, "Stay the hell out of this". Haldeman expects Gray will then seek and take advice from Deputy FBI Director Mark Felt, and Felt will obey direction from the White House out of ambition. Nixon agrees and gives the order. The conversation is recorded.
  • April 30, 1973: Senior White House administration officials Ehrlichman, Haldeman, and Richard Kleindienst resign, and John Dean is fired.
  • October 10, 1973: Spiro Agnew resigns as Vice President of the United States due to corruption while he was the governor of Maryland.
  • January 20, 1973: Nixon is inaugurated for his second term.
  • April 27, 1973: L. Patrick Gray resigns after it comes to light that he destroyed files from E. Howard Hunts safe. William Ruckelshaus is appointed as his replacement.
  • November 1, 1973: Leon Jaworski is appointed new special prosecutor.
  • November 17, 1973: Nixon delivers "I am not a crook" speech at a televised press conference at Disney World Florida.
  • November 27, 1973: the Senate votes 92 to 3 to confirm Ford as Vice President.
  • December 6, 1973: the House votes 387 to 35 to confirm Ford as Vice President, and he takes the oath of office an hour after the vote.
  • October 20, 1973: "Saturday Night Massacre" – Nixon orders Elliot Richardson and Ruckelshaus to fire special prosecutor Cox. They both refuse to comply and resign. Robert Bork considers resigning but carries out the order.
  • March 4, 1974: The "Watergate Seven" are formally indicted.
  • April 7, 1974: Ed Reinecke, Republican lieutenant governor of California, indicted on three charges of perjury before the Senate committee.
  • Congress moves to impeach Nixon.
  • Early August 1974: A previously unknown tape from June 23, 1972 recorded a few days after the break-in documenting Nixon and Haldeman formulating a plan to block investigations is released. This recording later became known as the "Smoking Gun".
  • July 24, 1974: United States v. Nixon decided: Nixon is ordered to give up tapes to investigators.
  • April 5, 1974: Dwight Chapin convicted of lying to a grand jury.
  • February 25, 1974: Nixon personal counsel Herbert Kalmbach pleads guilty to two charges of illegal campaign activities.
  • June 15, 1974: Woodward and Bernsteins book All the Presidents Men is published by Simon & Schuster ISBN 0-671-21781-X.
  • Key Republican Senators tell Nixon that enough votes exist to convict him.
  • April 16, 1974: Special Prosecutor Jaworski issues a subpoena for 64 White House tapes.
  • January 28, 1974: Nixon campaign aide Herbert Porter pleads guilty to perjury.
  • March 18, 1974: Judge Sirica orders the grand jurys sealed report to be sent to the House Committee on the Judiciary.
  • July 27 to July 30, 1974: House Judiciary Committee passes Articles of Impeachment.
  • April 30, 1974: White House releases edited transcripts of the Nixon tapes, but the House Judiciary Committee insists the actual tapes must be turned over.
  • March 1, 1974: In an indictment against seven former presidential aides, delivered to Judge Sirica together with a sealed briefcase intended for the House Committee on the Judiciary, Nixon is named as an unindicted co-conspirator.
  • May 9, 1974: Impeachment hearings begin before the House Judiciary Committee.
  • November 7, 1974: 94th Congress elected: Democratic Party picks up 5 Senate seats and 49 House seats. Many of the freshman congressmen are very young; the media dubs them "Watergate Babies".
  • January 1, 1975: John N. Mitchell, John Ehrlichman and H. R. Haldeman convicted of conspiracy, obstruction of justice and perjury.
  • December 31, 1974: As a result of Nixon administration abuses of privacy, Privacy Act of 1974 passes into law. Ford is persuaded by Richard Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld to veto the bill; Congress overrides Fords veto. Note that the newly elected Congress had not taken office yet, this Congress was still the 93rd Congress.
  • August 9, 1974: Nixon resigns from office. Gerald Ford becomes president.
  • January 20, 1977: Jimmy Carter is inaugurated at the 39th President of The United States.
  • May 15, 1978: Nixon publishes his memoirs, giving more of his side of the Watergate saga.
  • October 25, 1978: Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act enacted, creating Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and limiting federal government domestic surveillance powers. Recommended by Church Committee.
  • November 2, 1976: Ford is defeated in the United States presidential election by Jimmy Carter.
  • August 8, 1974: Nixon delivers his resignation speech in front of a nationally televised audience.
  • May 4, 1977: Nixon gives his first major interview about Watergate with TV journalist David Frost.
  • July 27, 1975: Church Committee, chaired by Frank Church, commences to investigate foreign and domestic intelligence-gathering activities.
  • October 17, 1974: Ford testifies before Congress on the pardon, the first sitting president to testify before Congress since President Lincoln.
  • September 8, 1974: President Ford ends the investigations by granting Nixon a pardon.
  • May 5, 1976: Church Committee superseded by Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
  • November 4, 1975: Ford replaces several Nixon cabinet members in the "Halloween Massacre", engineered by Ford aide Donald Rumsfeld. Richard Cheney, George H. W. Bush and Brent Scowcroft join Ford administration; Rumsfeld becomes Secretary of Defense; Henry Kissinger remains as Secretary of State but not National Security Advisor.
                                     

2. 1990s

  • January, 1992: Publication of Silent Coup by journalists Len Colodny and Robert Gettlin, blaming Watergate burglary on John Dean who wanted to cover-up involvement of his fiancee with a call-girl ring. Book endorsed by Liddy in his first major statement about Watergate case, prompting Dean to sue Liddy, Colodny and Gettlin for defamation. Deans case was dismissed and settled out of court; DNC secretary Ida "Maxine" Wells, also implicated by Liddy in call-girl coverup, sued for defamation but jury in that case deadlock and judge dismissed case in 2001.
  • April 22, 1994: Richard Nixon dies aged 81, after suffering a stroke. In keeping with his own wishes, he was not given a state funeral, though his funeral service 5 days later was a high-profile affair, attended by all 5 living U.S. Presidents and a host of other VIPs.
                                     

3. 2000s

  • May 31, 2005: W. Mark Felt, former Associate Director of the FBI during the Watergate years, declares that he is Deep Throat; this declaration was later confirmed by reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, although it was disputed by some writers.