watergate building

The Watergate scandal began after a break-in at the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters at the Watergate Apartment complex in Washington D.C.

Five men working for the committee to elect Richard Nixon, a Republican, broke into the office in an attempt to install surveillance equipment, but were discovered in the office by a security guard.

They were arrested and charged with attempted burglary and attempted interception of telephone and other communications, but the implications of the break-in were much more significant. Check out the timeline below and watch’s Shelby Holliday’s story to learn more.




The New York Times begins publishing The Pentagon Papers, a Department of Defense report on American involvement in Vietnam. The report contained sensitive information that had been leaked from the Nixon White House.



Richard Nixon was elected President, defeating Hubert Humphrey in one of the closest elections in U.S. history.


September 9th, 1971 The White House plumbers, a group formed by President Nixon, rob a psychiatrist's office in an effort to find information on a defense analyst who leaked information that was published in The Pentagon Papers.


Five men, the plumbers, working on the committee to re-elect Republican President Nixon were arrested for breaking into, and illegally wiretapping the offices of their competitors, the Democrats.


October 10th, 1972 The Washington Post reports that the FBI has established that the Watergate break-in was a part of a campaign of political spying on behalf of the Nixon re-election campaign.


November 1972 President Nixon was re-elected in a landslide. Despite an ongoing investigation from Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, many Americans refused to believe Nixon was directly involved in the scandal.


May of 1973 The Senate begins televising hearings on the Watergate affair, and the President's popularity wanes. Tapes played during the investigation captured him talking about paying to cover up the scandal.


November 17th, 1973 President Nixon utters the now famous line, "I am not a crook."


July 24, 1974 The Supreme Court orders President Nixon to turn over 64 White House recordings that have conversations relevant to the cover up recorded on them.


July 27, 1974 The House of Representatives passes three articles on impeachment on charges of obstruction of justice.


August 8th, 1974 President Nixon Resigns. He is the only President to have done so, and his successor, Gerald Ford, pardoned him for an involvement in Watergate.

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