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How the Watergate Scandal Worked

        Culture | Modern Era

Nixon Impeachment and Resignation
Watergate complex
Watergate complex
The Gerald R. Ford Library & Museum/U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

At this point, none of these activities linked to or tainted President Nixon. He won re-election on November 7, 1972, by a landslide.

The whole thinĀ­g came unraveled and got firmly attached to Nixon in 1973. First, memos turned up that linked Nixon and his office to the crimes. And then, in July 1973, the world learned that all of Nixon's Oval Office transactions (either spoken in meetings or on the telephone) had been recorded on tapes starting in 1971. This discovery marked the beginning of the tape scandal. Nixon would not turn over the tapes. Then, once he was compelled (by a Supreme Court order) to turn them over, a key section had been erased.

Nixon's letter of resignation, addressed to Henry Kissinger
Nixon's letter of resignation, addressed to Henry Kissinger

At this point Congress began the process of impeachment, and Nixon resigned. He was the first (and still the only) president to do so.

It was an amazing period in American history, and it completely redefined the role of the media in American politics. Reporters at the Washington Post and the New York Times were responsible for untangling and announcing many of the different parts of this scandal. Since Watergate, the press has played a major role in keeping government honest.

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