The biggest political scandal in US history came to light in June 1972, which led to the resignation of Republican President Richard Nixon two years later.
On the night between June 16 and 17, five men entered the Democratic Party office at the Watergate Hotel and were arrested on the spot.
The five men, disguised as plumbers, entered the party office with gloves on their hands and cameras.
The next day, news of the incident appeared on the front page of the Washington Post, at a time when the Republican Party was in the midst of a campaign to re-elect Richard Nixon.
The media attributed the incident to the White House, but on June 22, Richard Nixon stated that his administration had nothing to do with the incident, adding to the public’s skepticism.
Two young journalists, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, investigated the case, claiming that President Richard Nixon and two of his advisers were actually instructing thieves on walkie-talkies.
They were tasked with taking pictures of Richard Nixon’s opponents and installing microphones in the Democratic Party’s office.
The reporters were identified as Mark Felt, the FBI’s deputy director, whose identities were kept secret at the time.
The reality of this secret source known as ‘Deep Throat’ came to light in 2005 after 30 years.
Between October 1972 and November 1973, Deep Throat met journalist Woodward six times in a parking lot in Washington.
On October 10, 1972, the two journalists uncovered a large-scale White House-linked political espionage plot to assassinate Richard Nixon.
The Nixon camp used thousands of dollars in donations to run covert campaigns to destabilize the Democratic Party.
Despite all the controversy, Richard Nixon was re-elected president on November 6, defeating the Democratic candidate.
But on January 8, 1973, a lawsuit was filed against the thieves who entered Watergate.
On February 7, members of the Democratic Party formed a Senate committee tasked with investigating allegations made during the 1972 election campaign.
All of the committee’s proceedings were broadcast live on national television channels.
During the proceedings, James McCord, a member of Richard Nixon’s campaign committee, admitted that he had lied to the court under pressure from the White House.
Presidential adviser John Dean told the committee on January 25 that Richard Nixon had known about the case since September 15, 1972, and that the theft had been used only to cover up.
He said President Nixon was willing to pay millions of dollars in bribes to silence thieves.
Adviser John Dean was the first witness in the Watergate scandal to accuse the country’s president of direct involvement.
But there was an uproar in the White House on July 16 when an official told the committee that secret microphones had been installed in the president’s office.
Initially, President Nixon refused to provide recordings to the committee of inquiry, but under increasing pressure, he provided nine tapes but withheld two very important recordings, including a conversation with adviser John Dean.
A year later, on the orders of the Supreme Court, President Nixon had to give the rest of the tapes to the committee.
On May 9, 1974, the Judicial Committee of the House of Representatives launched an impeachment proceeding against the President.
To avoid impeachment, President Nixon resigned on August 8, 1974, the first resignation of any president in US history.