On the night of June 17, 1972, a security guard in the Watergate office complex in Washington, DC called the police when he found a door repeatedly taped open. The police discovered five men dressed in business suits who were in the process of installing bugs and photographing documents in the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee. Thus began the most explosive scandal in American history – a scandal that brought down the Presidency of Richard M. Nixon and sent over 40 people to jail.
The events of Watergate read like a political thriller – dirty tricks, government surveillance, and sabotage … much of it secretly caught on tape. “Watergate” tells the full story of the conspiracy led by Nixon and his White House staff, and how they were brought to justice. Among the incidents covered in the series is the leaking and publication of the Pentagon Papers; the spreading of false news on behalf of the White House to destroy the candidacy of Senator Edmund Muskie, then the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1972; the revelation that Nixon secretly tape-recorded every conversation in the Oval Office; the Supreme Court fight for the tapes following subpoenas by the special prosecutor and both houses of Congress; the infamous Saturday Night Massacre, when Nixon fired special prosecutor Archibald Cox, leading to the resignations of Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus; the House Judiciary Committee’s impeachment proceedings; and the final “smoking gun” tape which recorded Nixon conspiring to cover up White House involvement in Watergate just days after the burglary.
It is a story that touches on Vietnam, the unrest of the 1960s, a near World War, the opening of China, and the moment when an unlikely group of heroes from both political parties band together and bring down the White House.
Much of our current political climate began with Watergate, a word everyone has heard, but a story few Americans now understand.