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1973: Nixon takes rap for Watergate scandal

President Richard Nixon has taken full responsibility for the Watergate scandal but has denied any personal involvement.

In a speech broadcast to the American people tonight he vowed to get to the bottom of the matter, saying: "There will be no whitewash at the Whitehouse."

Earlier today he accepted the resignations of four of his closest aides, including Attorney General Richard G Kleindienst.

Resignations were also accepted from chief White House advisers, H R Haldeman and John D Ehrlichman and counsel to the president, John W Dean III.


"America must not again fall into the trap of letting the end, however great that end is, justify the means"

Richard Nixon

The president announced he had appointed Defence Secretary Elliott L Richardson as the new Attorney General and had charged him with full responsibility for revealing the truth behind the Watergate affair.

He said: "America, in its political campaigns, must not again fall into the trap of letting the end, however great that end is, justify the means."

The Democrats immediately demanded the whole Watergate investigation be handed over to an impartial prosecutor and that a special committee of the House be set up to investigate the possibility of presidential involvement in the scandal.

The Watergate Affair began in June 1972, after five men were arrested in the early hours of the morning breaking into the Democratic Party's Watergate headquarters in Washington.

They had with them photographic equipment and bugging devices.

In the ensuing months connections between several of the suspects and one part or another of the Republican power structure were revealed.

In January of this year seven men were convicted of conspiracy, burglary and bugging the Democratic Party's headquarters, two-and-half months after Richard Nixon was re-elected as president of the United States.

But despite continued denials by leading officials in the Nixon administration that Watergate had no connection with the White House, the affair has rumbled on and it seems it still has some way to go before it reaches its conclusion.

In Context
Former Solicitor General Archibald Cox, was appointed Special Prosecutor by the senate and a three-month independent investigation - the Ervin committee - began in May 1973.

On 24 July 1974 the Supreme Court ordered Nixon to hand tape recordings of 64 White House conversations, rejecting the president's claims of executive privilege.

Three days later the House Judiciary Committee took the momentous step of recommending that the president of the United States be impeached and removed from office.

He was accused of misusing government agencies such as the FBI, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Internal Revenue Service during the course of a Watergate cover-up.

On 9 August Nixon became the first ever president of the United States to resign - and by doing so avoided impeachment.

His successor, President Gerald Ford, issued an unconditional pardon for any offences Nixon may have committed as president.

In total 40 government officials, including Haldeman and Ehrlichman, were either indicted or jailed.

In 2005, former FBI deputy head Mark Felt was revealed to be the anonymous source "Deep Throat", who helped Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein uncover the Watergate affair.


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