Watergate Affair, a scandal during the administration of President Richard M. Nixon, considered the most far-reaching political scandal in American history. It culminated in Nixon's resignation in 1974 and the conviction of more than 25 of his aides, campaign officials, and other associates. Involved were such criminal acts as burglary, illegal wiretapping, perjury, conspiracy to obstruct justice, and misuse of campaign funds. The purpose of these acts was to sabotage the Democratic Presidential campaign of 1972, win reelection for Nixon, and diminish opposition to his policies.President Nixon resigned from office in 1974.
The scandal took its name from the first unlawful activity to come to public attentionon June 17, 1972, five men, with illegal wiretapping devices in their possession, broke into Democratic party headquarters in the Watergate office building in Washington, D.C. They were detected by a watchman and arrested. Although the burglars were later shown to have been employed by the Committee to Reelect the President, Nixon administration and campaign officials denied involvement.
However, during the next two years, evidence was uncovered that several administration and reelection committee figures had engaged either in planning the Watergate entry or in attempting to cover up complicity in this or other illegal activities. Among those implicated were the President himself, his two closest advisersH. R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichmanand former U.S. Attorney General John N. Mitchell. Crucial evidence had been provided by one of the conspirators, former White House counsel John W. Dean III, and by tape recordings of Presidential conversations that the courts had ordered Nixon to give to investigators.
Impeachment proceedings were initiated against President Nixon for his role in the Watergate cover-up, but he resigned before their completion. He was given a full pardon by his successor, Gerald R. Ford, thus becoming immune to prosecution.