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This Day in History

World History

Thursday, May 17, 1973. :   Televised hearings begin on the Watergate affair.

     The Watergate scandal was an American political scandal and constitutional crisis that led to the resignation of US President Richard Nixon. It began with a burglary at the Watergate Apartment complex. On 17 June 1972, five men were caught searching through confidential papers and bugging the office of President Nixon's political opponents, the Democratic National Committee. One of the men, James McCord, was officially employed as Chief of Security at the Committee to Re-elect the President (CRP), indicating that the burglary was linked to US President Nixon's re-election campaign.

On 17 May 1973, the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities began televised proceedings on the escalating Watergate scandal. On 24 July 1973, it was revealed that Nixon had secretly taped all conversations in the Oval Office. With this information available, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered President Richard Nixon to surrender the tape recordings. After prevaricating for three months, Nixon finally produced the tapes.

The break-in, resultant cover-up by Nixon and his aides, and the subsequent investigation ultimately led to the resignation of the President on 9 August 1974, preventing his impeachment by the Senate. When President Gerald Ford pardoned Nixon a month later, this prevented any criminal charges from being filed against the former president.

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