Watergate scandal

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The Watergate office building

The Watergate scandal was a major political scandal in the United States involving the administration of U.S. President Richard Nixon from 1972 eventually leading to Nixon's resignation in 1974. The scandal stemmed from the Nixon administration's continual attempts to cover up its involvement in the June 17, 1972 break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Washington, D.C. Watergate Office Building. After the five perpetrators were arrested, the press and the U.S. Justice Department connected the cash found on them at the time to the Nixon re-election campaign committee. Further investigations, along with revelations during subsequent trials of the burglars, led the U.S. House of Representatives to grant its judiciary committee additional investigation authority to probe into "certain matters within its jurisdiction", and the U.S. Senate to create a special investigative committee. The resulting Senate Watergate hearings were broadcast "gavel-to-gavel" nationwide by PBS and aroused public interest. Witnesses testified that Nixon had approved plans to cover up administration involvement in the break-in, and that there was a voice-activated taping system in the Oval Office. Throughout the investigation, the administration resisted its probes, which led to a constitutional crisis.

Several major revelations and egregious presidential action against the investigation later in 1973 prompted the House to commence an impeachment process against Nixon. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Nixon had to release the Oval Office tapes to government investigators. The tapes revealed that Nixon had conspired to cover up activities that took place after the break-in and later tried to use federal officials to deflect the investigation. The House Judiciary Committee approved three articles of impeachment against Nixon for obstruction of justice, abuse of power, and contempt of Congress. With his complicity in the cover-up made public and his political support completely eroded, Nixon resigned from office on August 9, 1974.


  • A journalist for the Nation, Greg Mitchell, who has also written about us, wrote a book about the mainstream media called So Wrong for So Long. And that title is basically it.  Yes we have these heroic moments with Watergate and so on, but actually, come on, the press has never been very good.  It has always been very bad.  Fine journalists are an exception to the rule.  When you are involved in something yourself, like I am with Wikileaks, and you know every facet of it, you look to see what is reported about it in the mainstream press and you see naked lie after naked lie.  You know that the journalist knows it's a lie, it is not a simple mistake.  Then people repeat lies and so on.  The condition of the mainstream press nowadays is so appalling I don't think it can be reformed.  I don't think that is possible.  I think it has to be eliminated, and replaced with something better.
    • Julian Assange, "When Google Met Wikileaks" (ORbooks, New York, 2014), pp. 125-126
  • Now the leaders are more deadlocked. If they can’t decide, nothing happens. In America, if you’re corrupt you have to resign. Look at Nixon. He had Watergate and had to resign. In China does that happen? No. Why? Because everyone is in one boat. If that boat turns over, everyone ends up in the water. When I say “everyone” of course I mean the people in power. So in China everyone helps each other out. If you are in trouble, I’ll help you out and if I’m in trouble you help me out. So only in an extreme case like Bo Xilai can someone be pushed out.
    • Bao Tong, as quoted in Johnson, Ian. “'In the Current System, I'd Be Corrupt Too': An Interview with Bao Tong.” The New York Review of Books, The New York Review of Books, 14 June 2012, 12:40 pm, www.nybooks.com/daily/2012/06/14/china-corruption-bao-tong-interview/.
  • The most positive thing that is happening in this country is Watergate... Because white Americans-you see, there was a period when white Americans were marching in Selma and marching to Washington, for the blacks they thought, you see. But the struggle due to Watergate is for the whites. It's for their morality, for their integrity. It's the first time since the early part of the nineteenth century that a great mass of whites have really been concerned about their own morality. In the early part of the nineteenth century there were whites who became Abolitionists and supported the Underground Railroad, not because they loved blacks but because they loved truth. And not since that time-I mean all the World War II business, where we all got together and balled up string, and so forth, was for somebody else. It was for the Jews and Europe. But suddenly-not so suddenly in the United States the people are concerned about their own morality, their own continuation. And it's very, very-and that, I believe, will reflect in turn and in time on the black American struggle. I think that white Americans will freely, once they clear up their own backyards, will be able to-that is to say their own internal selves about integrity and honesty, will have no out, no recourse, except to deal with the race question, which, as Dr. Du Bois said at the turn of the century, "The problem for the Twentieth Century will be the problem of the color line." And that will be dealt with not from a paternalistic point of view, I hope. This is what I expect. Not at the sufferance of their time, their energy, or when they have-at somebody's whim, but because it is right to do. And if the country is to continue, if it is to continue to grow to be what it hopes to be, then certainly people will move because it is right to do so.
  • In 1972, Americans watched in disbelief as the Nixon Presidency was virtually brought to collapse, not because of the Watergate "break-in," but by the cover-up and its entanglements. What if the Watergate Scandal had been handled differently? The illegal activities of a few bungling second-story men pale in comparison to the colossal management blunders by the White House inner circle.
  • The American Dream has run out of gas. The car has stopped. It no longer supplies the world with its images, its dreams, its fantasies. No more. It's over. It supplies the world with its nightmares now: the Kennedy assassination, Watergate, Vietnam.
    • J. G. Ballard, as quoted in an interview in Metaphors No. 7, (1983); also in The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations (1993) by Robert Andrews, p. 937.
  • So let me turn now to how the Executive is presently faring in these inter-branch battles. I'm concerned that the deck has become stacked against the Executive, and that since the mid-60s, there's been a steady grinding down of the Executive Branch’s authority, that accelerated after Watergate. More and more, the President’s ability to act in areas in which he has discretion has become smothered by the encroachments of the other branches.
  • Watergate was thus nothing but a lure held out by the system to catch its adversaries - a simulation of scandal for regenerative ends.
    • Jean Baudrillard, Simulacra and Simulation (1981), "The Precession of Simulcra,MÖBIUS - SPIRALING NEGATIVETY
  • What an age of innocence it was, the Watergate era... way back in the halcyon days when the US could be contrasted with totalitarian regimes on matters of surveillance.
  • Each time our nation has made a serious mistake, the American people have been excluded from the process. The tragedy of Vietnam and Cambodia, the disgrace of Watergate, and the embarrassment of the CIA revelations could have been avoided if our government had simply reflected the sound judgment and the good common sense and the high moral character of the American people. It’s time for us to take a new look at our own government, to strip away the secrecy, to expose the unwarranted pressure of lobbyists, to eliminate waste, to release our civil servants from bureaucratic chaos, to provide tough management, and always to remember that in any town or city the mayor, the governor, and the President represent exactly the same constituents.
  • We were sure that ours was a nation of the ballot, not the bullet, until the murders of John Kennedy and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. We were taught that our armies were always invincible and our causes were always just, only to suffer the agony of Vietnam. We respected the Presidency as a place of honor until the shock of Watergate.
  • As a young man, Bill Clinton was one of thousands of leftist students who benefited from KGB funds, earning one of those trips to the USSR which were the preferred means for the recruitment of Soviet agents in the universities of the West. In the 60s, that would be deterrent enough for any application for town mayor of the interior. In the 90s, after three decades of Gramscian cultural revolution, the dangerous links did not prevent Clinton from being elected US president with the support of the American Communist Party. Thanks to a well-calculated "politically correct" speech, the new ruler became an idol of the left, which moved heaven and earth to keep him in office despite a range of charges, including sexual frivolities, financial imbroglios and a multitude of small Watergates, including something perfectly serious and terrifying: the suspicion of favoring Chinese nuclear espionage. The well-thinking press resisted any investigation of the matter.
    • Olavo de Carvalho, Censored article, originally to República Magazine - Clinton, a guerra e a China (2 May 1999)
  • If we try to keep a sense of balance, the exposures of the past several months are analogous to the discovery that the directors of Murder, Inc. were also cheating on their income tax. Reprehensible, to be sure, but hardly the main point.
  • In the post-Vietnam War era the need for Communist abuses has been no less pressing than before. More facts have come to light on the scope of U.S. violence in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, the extent of which U.S. officials lied to the public with regard to their programs and methods, and the brazenness with which these officials defied treaty obligations and international law. Much as the government and the media tried to isolate the scoundrelism of Watergate from the much more profound immorality of the “secret” devastation of Cambodia, the linkage between the two could not be entirely concealed and therefore tended to discredit still further the campaign to bring “freedom” to South Vietnam. Counterrevolution, torture and official murder in Argentina, Guatemala, Chile, and other U.S. satellites was also reaching new peaks. Thus, if Cambodian terror did not exist, the Western propaganda systems would have had to invent it, and in certain respects it did […].
  • I have tender feelings for Nixon, because everybody has warm feelings about their childhood. Actually, I didn't like the Watergate trials 'cause they interrupted The Munsters... Nixon was the last liberal president. He supported women's rights, the environment, ending the draft, youth involvement, and now he's the boogeyman? Kerry couldn't even run on that today.
  • Twenty-five years ago, in the darkest days of Watergate, you read about all of my sins -- those of you graduating now. Younger students at least read about them in your history books. I am always appalled when people come up to me and ask for my autograph on airplanes because they read about me in their history book. But what I realized that night, twenty-five years ago, the toughest of the Nixon tough guys, the White House "Hatchet Man," was that it was true that I could be set free, and I realized what was in my heart -- not the stuff you read about in Watergate, but much worse. And I tell you I would suffocate in the stench of my own sins today if I did not know that Christ took them away. And what does that do with me? That inspires in me what Chesterton said is the "mother of all virtues." That inspires in me a sense of gratitude that I will do for my God whatever He calls me to do. And what he calls us to do is to live for him in biblical fidelity to the kinds of commands I read to you from the Holy Scriptures, and to be men and women of character who exalt virtue and go into a society which has disdained character, which is laughing at honor, which is mocking virtue, and saying, "No, we believe in truth, and we’re going to live our lives that way no matter what the cost." Be those kind of men and women.
  • It turned out eventually that President Nixon had secretly been informed that I had copied material beyond the Pentagon Papers from his own National Security Council. He plausibly feared that I could reveal and document his secret threats to North Vietnam of escalations, including nuclear attacks, aiming essentially to win the war. To avert my possible exposure of his secret demands and threats—which had already prolonged the war for two years, widened it to Cambodia and Laos, and which would ultimately add twenty thousand American names to the Vietnam Memorial—he had set in motion a variety of criminal steps to keep me silent about his secret policy. These crimes against me—including warrantless wiretaps, burglary of my former psychoanalyst’s office seeking blackmail material, illegal use of the CIA, and an abortive effort to “totally incapacitate” me—when they were revealed, were a critical part of the impeachment proceedings that led to Nixon’s resignation, which made the war endable nine months later. Since these same crimes would have tainted a second prosecution for distribution of the Pentagon Papers, the Boston grand jury was abruptly terminated, and the second trial was averted.
    • Daniel Ellsberg, The Doomsday Machine: Confessions from a Nuclear War Planner (2017)
  • The political lesson of Watergate is this: Never again must America allow an arrogant, elite guard of political adolescents to by-pass the regular party organization and dictate the terms of a national election.
  • My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over. Our Constitution works; our great Republic is a government of laws and not of men. Here the people rule. But there is a higher Power, by whatever name we honor Him, who ordains not only righteousness but love, not only justice but mercy. As we bind up the internal wounds of Watergate, more painful and more poisonous than those of foreign wars, let us restore the golden rule to our political process, and let brotherly love purge our hearts of suspicion and of hate.
  • Vindication came on election day, November 7th, when Nixon annihilated his Democratic opponent, George McGovern, by a 61 to 37 percent majority in the popular vote. The electoral vote margin was even more impressive: 520-17, with McGovern carrying only Massachusetts and the District of Columbia. It was not the result one might have expected two and a half years earlier, when a haunted Nixon had warned of a helpless United States. As Kissinger wrote his boss, flatteringly, but not inaccurately, it had been quite an achievement to have taken "a divided nation, mired in war, losing its confidence, wracked by intellectuals without conviction, and [given] it a new purpose." Power, or so it seemed, was reasserting itself. But the nation would soon see Nixon haunted again, this time irreversibly, not by Vietnamese insurgents or radical students but by the consequences of a petty burglary that would drive him from office. The rule of law, within the United States at least, outweighed the accomplishments of grand strategy. And Watergate was just the tip of an iceberg, for over the next two decades the course of the Cold War itself would be driven by a force that went beyond state power: the recovery, within an international system that had long seemed hostile to it, of a common sense of equity. Morality itself, in the evolving Alice-in-Wonderland-like Cold War game, was becoming a mallet.
  • The Watergate crisis surprised Nixon, as well as the Soviet ambassador and the Kremlin leadership. How could the most powerful man in the world be brought down by what his own press spokesman described as a "third-rate burglary," detected only because the bungling thieves had taped a door lock horizontally instead of vertically, so that the end of the tape was visible to a graveyard shift security guard? The discovery of a break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate building in Washington shortly after 1:00 am on June 17, 1972, set in motion a series of events that would force the first resignation of an American president. The disproportion between the offense and its consequences left Nixon incredulous: "[A] 11 the terrible battering we have taken," he commiserated with himself shortly before leaving office, "is really pygmy-sized when compared to what we have done, and what we can do in the future not only for peace in the world but, indirectly, to effect the well-being of people everywhere." Perhaps so, but what Watergate also revealed was that Americans placed the rule of law above the wielding of power, however praiseworthy the purposes for which power was being used. Ends did not always justify means. Might alone did not make right.
  • "Well, when the president does it, that means it is not illegal," Nixon would later explain, in a lame attempt to justify the wiretaps and break-ins he had authorized in an effort to plug leaks within his administration regarding the conduct of the Vietnam War. "If the president, for example, approves something because of . . . national security, or in this case because of a threat to internal peace and order of significant magnitude, then the president s decision . . . enables those who carry it out to [do so] without violating a law." The claim was not a new one. Every chief executive since Franklin D. Roosevelt had sanctioned acts of questionable legality in the interests of national security, and Abraham Lincoln had done so more flagrantly than any of them in order to preserve national unity. Nixon, however, made several mistakes that were distinctly his own. The first was to exaggerate the problem confronting him: the leaking of The Pentagon Papers to the New York Times was not a threat comparable to secession in 1861, or to the prospect of subversion during World War II and the early Cold War. Nixon's second mistake was to employ such clumsy agents that they got themselves caught. And his third mistake—the one that ended his presidency—was to lie about what he had done in a futile attempt to cover it up. The Watergate might have remained only an episode in the domestic history of the United States except for one thing: distinctions between might and right were also beginning to affect the behavior of the Cold War superpowers. The last years of the Nixon administration marked the first point at which the United States and the Soviet Union encountered constraints that did not just come from the nuclear stalemate, or from the failure of ideologies to deliver what they had promised, or from challenges mounted by the deceptively "weak" against the apparently "strong." They came as well now from a growing insistence that the rule of law—or at least basic standards of human decency—should govern the actions of states, as well as those of the individuals who resided within them.
  • One of the great weaknesses of the Republican Party is we recruit middle-class people. Middle-class people, as a group, are told you should not shout at the table, you should be nice, you should have respect for other people, which usually means giving way to them. You want to go to the beach, they want to go to the movie, well, you ought to go to the movie, cause otherwise they'll get mad at you. So what do you do? We ended up going to Watergate because we didn't want to offend Richard Nixon. We ended up allowing Gerald Ford to do some things that were incredibly dumb, just unbelievably dumb. Gerald Ford personally cost me a congressional seat.
  • You may choose, if you wish, to parrot the line that Watergate was a "long national nightmare," but some of us found it rather exhilarating to see a criminal President successfully investigated and exposed and discredited. And we do not think it in the least bit nightmarish that the Constitution says that such a man is not above the law. Ford's ignominious pardon of this felonious thug meant, first, that only the lesser fry had to go to jail. It meant, second, that we still do not even know why the burglars were originally sent into the offices of the Democratic National Committee. In this respect, the famous pardon is not unlike the Warren Commission: another establishment exercise in damage control and pseudo-reassurance (of which Ford was also a member) that actually raised more questions than it answered. The fact is that serious trials and fearless investigations often are the cause of great division, and rightly so.
  • The first time that I went to the United States was in 1974 ... I was 20 years old. America was in crisis. The dollar was at a low. The Watergate scandal had already erupted. And I still remember this vision I had of New York, which was a huge, fascinating city, dirty and violent. And I’ve been to the U.S. regularly, but what impresses me most in this large nation is its capacity to overcome hardship and return to the heights.
  • The revelation that American companies were making payments to foreign political parties and government officials touched a sensitive nerve in the post-Watergate era. Although most knowledgeable people were aware of the bribery of domestic government officials, they felt more keenly about the payment of millions of dollars to foreign officials.
    • Neil H. Jacoby, Bribery and Extortion in World Business with Peter Nehemkis and Richard Eells (1977) p. xiv
  • Faking the Moon Landing is easy. You need dirt, wardrobe, a sound stage, a lot of black paints, and some stupid suits. The hard part is shutting people up. It's been 36 years! You think the technicians, and prop people, camera people, directors, everyone who works at NASA, and the Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, and all the nice folks at Cape Carnaval in Florida, plus members of the U.S. Congress and the White House all shut up about this amazing cover-up for all that time? The Government couldn't even fucking cover up a break-in to a psychiatrist's office in a fucking cheesy hotel! Watergate is the answer to all this shit. If they couldn't cover that up, they fucking can't do anything.
  • We are not strangers to change. Twenty years ago, we changed the whole tone of the nation at the Watergate abuses. We did that twenty years ago. We know how to change. We have been the instrument of change in the past. We know what needs to be done. We know how to do it. We know that we can impact policies which affect education. We calmed the national unrest in the wake of the Watergate abuses and we, The Democratic Party, can seize this moment. We know what needs to be done and how to do it. We have been the instrument of change in policies which impact education, human rights, civil rights, economic and social opportunity, and the environment. These are policies which are embedded in the soul of the Democratic Party. And embedded in our soul, they will not disappear easily. We, as a Party, will do nothing to erode our essence. We will not.
  • Robert Bork's America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens' doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of the government, and the doors of the federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens for whom the judiciary is—and is often the only—protector of the individual rights that are the heart of our democracy ... President Reagan is still our president. But he should not be able to reach out from the muck of Irangate, reach into the muck of Watergate and impose his reactionary vision of the Constitution on the Supreme Court and the next generation of Americans. No justice would be better than this injustice.
  • In my dual role of National Security Adviser and Secretary of State, my constant nightmare as Watergate accelerated was that, sooner or later, some foreign adversary might be tempted to test what remained of Nixon's authority and discover that the emperor had no clothes. Probably the greatest service rendered by the Nixon Administration in those strange and turbulent final months was to have prevented any such overt challenge. For even as it approached dissolution, the Nixon Administration managed to navigate the Arab-Israeli War of 1973, diminish the Soviet position in the Middle East by sponsoring two disengagement agreements, and conduct successfully a complicated triangular diplomacy with Moscow and Beijing.
  • As the impeachment proceedings gathered momentum, Nixon's personal conduct began to mirror his political decline. He kept fully abreast of the various foreign policy issues and at no point failed to make the key decisions. But, as time went on, Watergate absorbed more and more of Nixon's intellectual and emotional capital. As day-to-day business became trivialized by the increasingly apparent inevitability of his downfall, I felt enormous sympathy for this tormented man whose suffering was compounded by his knowledge that his tragedy was largely self-inflicted. Yet by early July 1974, I, like the other few survivors of Nixon's entourage, was so drained by the emotional roller coaster that I was half hoping for some merciful end to it all.
  • Let us take a look at a couple of specifics. There is not one iota of evidence that the President had any prior knowledge whatsoever of the Watergate break-in. And I don't want to get into quoting half a passage. But I guess we could do that on each one, one would be quoting something and the other to the contrary and that's my point. So much contradicting evidence. The President himself, in the transcript of March 13, referred to the Watergate break-in like this. “What a stupid thing, pointless. That was the stupid thing.” The President did not participate in the Watergate coverup. True, he did not immediately throw all possibly involved immediately to the wolves. Would you, without knowing all of the facts [dismiss] your principle aide? But, upon learning from Dean on March 21 the real seriousness of what was happening, he started taking a series of actions to find really what the truth, the whole story, was. The President on March 22 said that Hunt could not demand blackmail money, they just wouldn't go along with that, and he instructed Dean to prepare a report for him of what had really gone on. He never got that report. The Attorney General was advised to report directly to the President. Members of the White House were instructed to go to the grand jury and to tell the truth. I think it is important that you have got to look at what eventually happened. I think that you must consider the fact that the President waived executive privilege for his closest aides, including his counsel. That is what really happened. And we could go on, and on and on. With regard to Ellsberg's psychiatrist break-in, Charles Colson testified before this committee that he was convinced that the President did not know in advance of the break-in. I will make no comment on the part of the article that deals with the contempt of Congress charge because I think it is so ludicrous that it deserves no comment.
  • The two-party system has given this country the war of Lyndon Johnson, the Watergate of Nixon, and the incompetence of Carter. Saying we should keep the two-party system simply because it is working is like saying the Titanic voyage was a success because a few people survived on life-rafts.
  • Americans saw Watergate as a threat to their republic. They countered by following constitutional and legal procedure to the letter. In [South] Korea, many people appear unwilling to separate the political system from the wrongdoings of politicians.
  • We must maintain the integrity of the White House, and that integrity must be real, not transparent. There can be no whitewash at the White House.
    • Richard Nixon, address to the nation about the Watergate investigations (April 30, 1973), in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Richard Nixon, 1973, p. 332.
  • There are these and other great causes that we were elected overwhelmingly to carry forward in November of 1972. And what we were elected to do, we are going to do, and let others wallow in Watergate, we are going to do our job.
    • Richard Nixon, remarks to members of the White House staff on returning from Bethesda Naval Hospital (July 20, 1973), in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Richard Nixon, 1973, p. 657.
  • Mr. Speaker, and Mr. President, and my distinguished colleagues and our guests: I would like to add a personal word with regard to an issue that has been of great concern to all Americans over the past year. I refer, of course, to the investigations of the so-called Watergate affair. As you know, I have provided to the Special Prosecutor voluntarily a great deal of material. I believe that I have provided all the material that he needs to conclude his investigations and to proceed to prosecute the guilty and to clear the innocent. I believe the time has come to bring that investigation and the other investigations of this matter to an end. One year of Watergate is enough.
  • In all the decisions I have made in my public life, I have always tried to do what was best for the Nation. Throughout the long and difficult period of Watergate, I have felt it was my duty to persevere, to make every possible effort to complete the term of office to which you elected me. In the past few days, however, it has become evident to me that I no longer have a strong enough political base in the Congress to justify continuing that effort. As long as there was such a base, I felt strongly that it was necessary to see the constitutional process through to its conclusion, that to do otherwise would be unfaithful to the spirit of that deliberately difficult process and a dangerously destabilizing precedent for the future. But with the disappearance of that base, I now believe that the constitutional purpose has been served, and there is no longer a need for the process to be prolonged. I would have preferred to carry through to the finish whatever the personal agony it would have involved, and my family unanimously urged me to do so. But the interest of the Nation must always come before any personal considerations.
  • From the discussions I have had with Congressional and other leaders, I have concluded that because of the Watergate matter I might not have the support of the Congress that I would consider necessary to back the very difficult decisions and carry out the duties of this office in the way the interests of the Nation would require. I have never been a quitter. To leave office before my term is completed is abhorrent to every instinct in my body. But as President, I must put the interest of America first. America needs a full-time President and a full-time Congress, particularly at this time with problems we face at home and abroad. To continue to fight through the months ahead for my personal vindication would almost totally absorb the time and attention of both the President and the Congress in a period when our entire focus should be on the great issues of peace abroad and prosperity without inflation at home. Therefore, I shall resign the Presidency effective at noon tomorrow. Vice President Ford will be sworn in as President at that hour in this office.
  • From the Teapot Dome to Watergate, history tells us we should always be vigilant and demand that our public servants follow the highest ethical standards.  But the truth is that the kind of corruption that is blatant, of the sort that we saw in the past, is much less likely in today’s politics.  And the Justice Department and the media work hard to keep it that way.  And that’s a very good thing.  So we don’t want to romanticize the past and think somehow it’s a difference in the people being elected.
  • When the commander in chief of a nation finds it necessary to order employees of the government or agencies of the government to do things that would technically break the law, he has to be able to declare it legal in order for them to do that.
    • Ronald Reagan, Response to the Frost-Nixon interviews on the Watergate scandal, UPI (21 May 1977)
  • Maybe [Watergate] is like the Old Testament. It was visited upon us and maybe we're going to benefit from it.
    • Nelson Rockefeller, speech to the State Broadcasters Association, Cooperstown, New York (July 17, 1973), as reported by The New York Times (July 18, 1973), p. 20.
  • Assassinations, cover-ups, political blackmail, public relations image-making, are all examples of para-politics; they all represent deviations from the model of constitutional government in which public affairs are handled by public debate and rational analysis. The cumulative effect of this government by hidden process can be to demoralize the average citizen, who may simply accept that the world, and even the universe, will be dominated by occult and capricious powers. [...] For to us who are spectators, the events of Dallas and of Watergate have appeared like meteors in a night sky, suddenly and without warning. Not even the events themselves have been always discernible, only the trail they leave behind in our sometimes cloudy media. It is not easy from the ground to pick out the true shape of a meteor. Nevertheless, as they become more frequent, one can begin to discern in what quadrant of the sky they find their origin. [...] [W]e should not be terrified by meteors, even if the night sky reminds us of our frailty and ignorance. For to scientists meteors are no longer symbols of mystery or portents of disaster: they are needed clues to the nature of the physical universe. And as Socrates remarked so long ago, if we can find reason behind the phenomena of the skies, we should look for no less in the affairs of men.
    • Peter Dale Scott. Crime and Cover-Up: The CIA, the Mafia, and the Dallas-Watergate Connection (1977), pp. 48-49
  • When I meet people who say, "Oh, there's no hope, Peter, look at the things that are going wrong, and those stupid people in Bosnia, there are going to be things like that all around the world, power-hungry people says I know how to handle this, just give me the bomb. There's no hope." But I say to them, I said, "Did you ever think that our great Watergate president would leave office the way he did?" "No, I guess I didn't think that." I said, "Did you think that the Berlin Wall would come down so peacefully?" "No, I didn't think that would happen, yeah." I said, "Did you think Mandela would be president of South Africa?" "No, I didn't predict that." "Well, if you couldn't predict those three things, then don't be so confident that there's no hope." And I give them a bumper sticker. It says, "There's No Hope, But I May Be Wrong."
  • It should also be clear to us by now who the real criminals are. Nixon and his crime partners have murdered hundreds of Third World brothers and sisters in Vietnam, Cambodia, Mozambique, Angola, and South Africa. As was proved by Watergate, the top law enforcement officials in this country are a lying bunch of criminals. The president, two attorney generals, the head of the FBI, the head of the CIA, and half the white house staff have been implicated in the Watergate crimes.
    • Assata Shakur, Shakur, Assata. "To My People By Assata Shakur (written while in prison)". Articles/letters. 4 July 1973.
  • I think what's happening now is people want to forget. There was Vietnam, there was Watergate, there was Iran – we were beaten, we were hustled, and then we were humiliated. And I think people got a need to feel good about the country they live in. But what's happening, I think, is that that need – which is a good thing – is gettin' manipulated and exploited. And you see the Reagan reelection ads on TV – you know: "It's morning in America." And you say, well, it's not morning in Pittsburgh. It's not morning above 125th Street in New York. It's midnight, and, like, there's a bad moon risin'. And that's why when Reagan mentioned my name in New Jersey, I felt it was another manipulation, and I had to disassociate myself from the president's kind words.
  • In Birmingham, they love the governor (Boo boo boo) Now we all did what we could do Now Watergate does not bother me Does your conscience bother you? Tell the truth
  • The slow-rising central horror of "Watergate" is not that it might grind down to the reluctant impeachment of a vengeful thug of a president whose entire political career has been a monument to the same kind of cheap shots and treachery he finally got nailed for, but that we might somehow fail to learn something from it.
  • How low has President Obama gone to tapp [sic] my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!
    • Donald Trump, 2017-03-04 7:02am, quoted in Bandy X. Lee (19 March 2019), The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 37 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President, Thomas Dunne Books (St. Martin's Press), ISBN 1250212863
  • In the wake of the US defeat in Vietnam comes an unprecedented governmental crisis. Watergate is a magnificent victory of the struggle of the 60's, a reflection of the war coming home. Crisis chases crisis as state leaders search for a consolidating strategy. The turmoil is indicative of serious and fatal weakness in the system. It offers an unparalleled opportunity for revolutionary and popular movements.
  • What made Stone stand out in that tawdry scene was his utter shamelessness. He bragged about being a 19-year-old bit player in the Watergate scandal and about his friendship with Roy Cohn, Joe McCarthy’s notorious henchman. Along with his partners, among them Trump adviser Paul Manafort, he engaged in campaign tactics no one else would admit to and took lobbying clients no one else would represent, including murderous foreign dictators.
  • Richard Nixon's resignation abruptly ended the nation's gravest constitutional and political crisis since the Civil War and Reconstruction. The misdeeds collectively known as Watergate had no precedent in their scope and severity. The actual break-in at Democratic Party headquarters at the Watergate complex in 1972, the associated campaign ethics, and the effort to cover them up, were the least of it—although Nixon's own former speechwriter, the conservative columnist William Safire, would describe, many years later, those "evil" offenses alone as "a serious assault on the foundations of democracy" which "rightly resulted in the resignation of the President." Systematically, and with full knowledge, Nixon had also used the machinery of government to spy on, or prepare to spy on, domestic radicals, mainstream critics, and dozens of other citizens who he imagined had conspired against him. (The White House's "enemies list" included well-known journalists; congressional leaders of both parties; the presidents of Yale, Harvard, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; the actor Steve McQueen; and the author Judith Martin, better known as "Miss Manners.") Nixon had underlings fabricate official documents, while he secretly conducted foreign policy, including the coup in Chile and the bombing of Cambodia, and prepared for a more dramatic expansion of federal power, to be completed after his reelection. By reorganizing the federal bureaucracy from the cabinet level down, replacing career professionals with political loyalists, and reducing their independent power, Nixon would thoroughly politicize the executive branch and federal agencies. (Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, one of the few cabinet members spared in the abrupt second-term shakeup after Nixon's landslide victory, was horrified by "the frenzied, almost maniacal sense of urgency about this political butchery.") Nixon later boasted: "I have thrown down a gauntlet to Congress, the bureaucracy, the media, and the Washington establishment and challenged them to an epic battle."
  • After Watergate, I never expected another impeachment investigation of a president in my lifetime, let alone an actual impeachment and a Senate trial. Nixon's successors, I thought, would recognize the price of scandal and learn the two fundamental lessons of Watergate. First, if there is questionable activity, release the facts, whatever they are, as early and completely as possible. Second, do not allow outside inquiries, whether conducted by prosecutors, congressmen or reporters, to harden into a permanent state of suspicion and warfare. But the overwhelming evidence is that five presidents after Nixon didn't understand these lessons. It wasn't that they lacked the political skill. Four of these presidents had mastered American electoral politics to win political power, and Ford almost did. Of the five, Reagan managed his problems best, although belatedly, when, after three months of Iran-contra, he permitted a broad internal White House investigation of his own actions. Why did they not see that they would be held fully accountable for their exercise of power?

Historians and psychiatrists will have their own answers to that question, but I have one preliminary conclusion. They have become victims of the myth of the big-time president. As successors to George Washington and Franklin Roosevelt, they expect to rule. But after Vietnam and Watergate, the modern presidency has been limited and diminished. Its inner workings and the behavior of the presidents are fully exposed.

    • Bob Woodward, Shadow: Five Presidents and the Legacy of Watergate. New York: Simon & Schuster, p. 515
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