Your Quick Watergate Fact Sheet
Given the recent unadulterated fuckery in the White House, the medias, both social and mainstream, have taken liberally to drawing comparisons to Watergate. The list below is not intended to be comprehensive, but moreso a greatest hits to help keep the current political turmoil in perspective or to repeat as a self-soothing mantra in the case of the number of days that the Watergate scandal lasted (669). Suggestions as to what Trump’s various scandals should be called are welcome in the comments.
- On June 17, 1972, five men were arrested during a break in at the DNC headquarters in the D.C. Watergate complex. This was actually the second break in out of four attempts at those offices. The first break in on May 26th and second on May 27th were both failures because criminals aren’t really as smart as they seem on TV. The first successful break in on May 28th placed taps (or tapps for those of you in politics) on the DNC’s phones. The break in on June 17th was to fix one of the bugs. So we’ll say that was a half- success. 1.5 out of 4 stars.
- Woodward and Bernstein’s article uncovering the extent of Nixon’s campaign abuses was published on October 10, 1972. Nixon resigned from office on August 9, 1974. That’s 669 full days.
- Nixon also managed to win re-election in 1972 despite his campaign’s misdeeds.
- The famed Saturday Night Massacre happened October 20, 1973. Which is a full 294 days from Nixon’s resignation. What I mean to say is, strap in, folks. We’ve got a while.
- As of June 1974, at the very height of the Watergate investigation, only 49-percent of respondents to a Washington Post-Gallup poll found Watergate to be “Very serious.” 42-percent considered it “Just politics.”
- Although to their credit, 78-percent agreed that an independent investigation was necessary to get the whole truth.
- While Nixon and his staff had committed actual crimes and abused their power by trying to cover it up, the “Smoking Gun” tape showed that Nixon knew about the Watergate break in mere days after it happened, and immediately began applying political power to get CIA Deputy Director Vernon Walters to convince Acting FBI Director Pat Gray to quash the investigation. Poor Nixon. He needed a Deputy Director to sell out his agency and couldn’t find one while here Trump has one and apparently didn’t need it.
- The Smoking Gun Tape was released by the White House on August 5, 1974. That’s four days before Nixon resigned. If only we had a tape of Trump acknowledging he acted in order to halt an investigation. (Seriously, people, this is the thing that made Nixon Nixon.)
- On September 8, 1974, President Gerald Ford pardoned Nixon of all crimes, because he felt it was time for the country to move past Watergate. That or because he was a party hack who was willing to sell out his legacy for short-term political favor with Republicans.
- Incidentally, Gerald Ford is the only person to ever hold the office of the President without being elected either President or Vice-President. Ford was appointed Vice-President by Nixon after his original VP Spiro Agnew resigned due to bribery and tax evasion charges unrelated to the Watergate investigation. Because this administration was just chock-full of winners. Ford was a high ranking House Member from an upper Midwestern state which DOES NOT AT ALL HOLD ANY IMPLICATIONS FOR MIKE PENCE OR HIS PERSONAL FINANCES. Just saying.
- At the conclusion of the Watergate investigation, over forty-eight government officials were convicted of crimes including two Attorneys General (you know, the position currently held by
Dobby the House Elf Jeff Sessions), Nixon’s Chief of Staff, the director of Nixon’s re-election campaign, and seven other top rankings aides and counsels.
Edit: As has been brought to my attention by commenters Agent Scully and Harper Twee, referring to Attorney General Jeff Sessions as “Dobby the House Elf” was uncalled for. It was wrong of me to impugn the character, integrity or high ethical standing of Dobby, beloved and courageous friend to Harry Potter. Sessions is clearly Kreacher. My sincerest apologies.
- It should be specifically noted that Washington Post articles shows that in September of ‘74, shortly after Nixon’s resignation, 67-percent of poll respondents said that Watergate would not make them less likely to vote for Republicans in the upcoming election. But Democrats took 49 seats in the House, and managed to add an additional seat in the ‘76 elections.
- Contrary to popular belief, the Watergate break in was not reported by lifestyle entrepreneur Forrest Gump, but by Frank Wills, a security guard at the complex. Wills found the door to a stairwell taped opened, and assuming it was left by maintenance, removed it. When he made his rounds again, he discovered the same door taped open because James McCord, despite knowing that Wills would make his rounds again, decided to re-tape it. This anecdote proves two things:
1) The most abundant substance in the universe is, in fact, stupidity.
2) The fact that Frank Wills, a black man, brought down notorious racist Richard Nixon proves that the forces of irony and humor are strongly at play in the world.
- “Gate” has nothing to do with scandals. The complex that was broken into was the “Watergate.” Adding -gate to a word doesn’t mean it’s a scandal. This isn’t as much related to our current situation, but general life advice which I hope everyone will take very seriously.
- Bonus closing fact: Fuck G Gordon Liddy.