45 Year Anniversary of Seven Grand Jury Indictments in Watergate Scandal; Led to Richard Nixon Resignation, March 1, 1974 – 45 years ago
WASHINGTON – A grand jury indicted seven former President Richard Nixon associates for perjury, obstruction of justice and conspiracy charges related to the Watergate scandal March 1, 1974 — 45 years ago.
The Watergate scandal involved the break-in and bugging at the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) headquarters in the Watergate complex of Washington, D.C., in 1972 and subsequent cover-up. The people who broke in were associated with Nixon’s reelection campaign and were trying to wire-tap the DNC’s phones before getting arrested, according to History.
Nixon, a Republican, was seeking reelection during a time when the country was divided over the U.S.’s involvement in the Vietnam War. Becoming president again in 1972 would mean having a strong, aggressive campaign. But the strategy turned out to be illegal surveillance.
The seven who were indicted were related to the break-in, including Charles Colson, John Ehrlichman, John N. Mitchell, Harry (Bob) Haldeman, Robert Mardian, Gordon Strachan and Kenneth Wells Parkinson.
Nixon was called an “unindicted co-conspirator” because the jury did not know if the president could be indicted, according to History. He eventually released the tapes that gave evidence of being involved with the scandal Aug. 5, 1974.
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One of the secretly recorded conversations between Nixon and Haldeman, known as the “Smoking Gun,” showed the president trying to interfere with the FBI’s investigation into the June 1972 break-in.
Nixon resigned three days later on Aug. 8, 1974.
Republican Gerald Ford, who assumed the role as president, pardoned Nixon.
Mitchell, Haldeman, Ehrlichman and Colson spent varying times in prison, with 19 months being the most, according to The Washington Post. Mardian was overturned on appeal, Strachan had criminal charges dropped in 1975 and Parkinson was acquitted.
The Watergate scandal led to the Senate and House passing separate versions of election-reform plans involving fundraising and financial issues related to political money, U.S. News & World Report reported Aug. 26, 1974.