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Watergate Fast Facts

By CNN Library
updated 2:53 PM EDT, Sun May 25, 2014
Nixon leaves the White House following his resignation over the Watergate scandal in 1974.
Nixon leaves the White House following his resignation over the Watergate scandal in 1974.

(CNN) -- Here's a look at what you need to know about Watergate, the 1970s political scandal that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon.

Timeline:
June 17, 1972 - Five men are arrested after breaking into Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate complex in Washington, DC. White House press secretary Ron Ziegler describes the incident as a "third-rate burglary."

October 10, 1972 - The Washington Post publishes a story by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, stating that the FBI believes the Watergate break in was done by aides to President Nixon.

November 7, 1972 - President Richard Nixon is elected to a second term in office, defeating Democratic candidate George McGovern by a wide margin.

January 30, 1973 - Former White House aide G. Gordon Liddy and former CIA and FBI veteran James McCord, Security Director of the Committee to Re-elect the President (CREEP), are found guilty of conspiracy, burglary and bugging DNC headquarters. Five other people indicted in the Watergate had already pleaded guilty, early in the trial.

April 30, 1973 - Four of President Nixon's aides resign as the Watergate scandal grows. They are: John Dean, White House counsel; H. R. Haldeman, chief of staff; John D. Ehrlichman, assistant for domestic affairs; and Attorney General Richard G. Kleindienst.

May 17, 1973 - The Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities opens hearings into the Watergate incident, chaired by Sen. Sam Ervin (D, NC). The hearings are televised nationally.

May 19, 1973 - Archibald Cox is appointed special prosecutor in the Watergate investigation.

June 25-29, 1973 - Former White House counsel John Dean testifies before the Senate Select Committee about the White House, and Nixon's, involvement in the Watergate break-in and cover-up.

July 16, 1973 - During the Watergate hearings, former aide Alexander Butterfield reveals that President Nixon has been secretly recording all of his White House conversations since 1971.

July 23, 1973 - In a letter to Sam Ervin, Nixon explains his reason for not turning over the presidential tapes as "the special nature of tape recordings of private conversations is such that these principles (of executive privilege) apply with even greater force to tapes of private presidential conversations than to presidential papers."

July 26, 1973 - President Nixon responds to two subpoenas issued by the Ervin committee, by saying he will not comply with requests for copies of White House recordings. He also refuses a similar request from special prosecutor Archibald Cox.

August 29, 1973 - Federal Judge John Sirica orders President Nixon to turn over the tapes to him to be privately examined. Nixon does not comply and appeals all subpoenas and orders with regards to surrendering the tapes.

October 19, 1973 - The appeal is denied and the president is ordered to turn over the tapes to Mr. Cox. Nixon offers to give a summary of the White House conversations personally edited by him and verified by Sen. John Stennis (D, MS) instead. The summary offer is rejected and Mr. Cox is ordered to drop the case. Cox refuses.

October 20, 1973 - In what becomes known as the "Saturday Night Massacre," President Nixon orders the firing of Archibald Cox as special prosecutor. Rather than comply, Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus resign. Cox is eventually fired by Solicitor General Robert Bork.

November 1, 1973 - Leon Jaworski is named the special prosecutor.

November 21, 1973 - The White House reveals that one of the subpoenaed recordings, dated June 20, 1972, has an 18-minute gap. President Nixon's secretary Rose Mary Woods says she is responsible for accidentally erasing the tape.

April 30, 1974 - The White House releases edited transcripts, more than 1,200 pages, of the presidential tapes.

July 24, 1974 - The Supreme Court unanimously rules that President Nixon must immediately turn over the original recordings of over 64 conversations to special prosecutor Leon Jaworski.

July 27, 1974 - The House Judiciary Committee approves three articles of impeachment against President Nixon. The recommendation is then sent to the full House of Representatives for a vote.

July 31, 1974 - The remaining tapes, having been turned over to Jaworski, reveal a conversation from June 23, 1972 that proves the president's knowledge of the cover-up from the beginning.

August 8, 1974 - President Richard Nixon addresses the nation on TV, "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."

August 9, 1974 - Nixon signs a letter of resignation and Vice President Gerald Ford becomes president.

September 8, 1974 - President Ford pardons former President Nixon.

January 1, 1975 - Former Attorney General John Mitchell, former aide John Ehrlichmann and former Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman are found guilty of obstruction of justice.

1977 - In a series of interviews with David Frost, Nixon defends his actions during the Watergate investigation, "I'm saying when the president does it, that means it's not illegal."

April 22, 1994 - Former President Nixon dies at the age of 81.

May 31, 2005 - The Washington Post confirms that former FBI agent Mark Felt was "Deep Throat," the informant who provided reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward with insider information during the Watergate scandal.

Major players:
The Watergate break-in:

Bernard Baker - One of the Watergate burglars. Pleaded guilty to wiretapping and theft and served 14 months in prison. Died June 5, 2009.

Virgilio R. Gonzalez - One of the Watergate burglars. Pleaded guilty to wiretapping and theft and served 16 months.

E. Howard Hunt - Former CIA agent, counsel to CREEP, and organizer of the Watergate break-in. Pleaded guilty to burglary, conspiracy and wiretapping and served 33 months. Died January 23, 2007.

G. Gordon Liddy - Former FBI agent and organizer of the Watergate break-in. Convicted of burglary, conspiracy and wiretapping and served 4.5 years.

Eugenio Martinez - One of the Watergate burglars. Pleaded guilty to conspiracy, burglary and wiretapping and served 15 months. He was later pardoned by President Ronald Reagan.

James McCord - Former CIA agent, Security Director for CREEP and one of the Watergate burglars. Convicted of burglary, conspiracy and wiretapping and served two months.

Frank Sturgis - One of the Watergate burglars. Pleaded guilty to burglary and wiretapping and served 16 months. Died December 5, 1993.

Committee to Re-Elect the President:

Jeb Magruder - Deputy director of CREEP. Pleaded guilty to conspiracy to obstruct justice and served seven months. Died May 11, 2014.

John Mitchell - Former Attorney General, Director of CREEP. Convicted of conspiracy, obstruction of justice and perjury and served 19 months. Died November 9, 1988.

The investigation:

Howard Baker - (R, TN) Vice Chairman of the Senate Watergate Committee.

Carl Bernstein - Washington Post investigative reporter.

Archibald Cox - Watergate Special Prosecutor. Died May 29, 2004.

Sam Ervin - (D, NC) Chairman of the Senate Watergate Committee. Died April 23, 1985.

"Deep Throat" - Mark Felt, former FBI official. Died December 18, 2008.

Leon Jaworski - Watergate Special Prosecutor. Died December 9, 1982.

John J. Sirica - Chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Bob Woodward - Washington Post investigative reporter.

White House:

Charles Colson - Special Counsel to the President. Pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and served seven months. Died April 21, 2012.

John Dean - Chief White Counsel. Pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and served four months.

John Ehrlichman - Assistant to the President. Convicted of conspiracy, obstruction of justice and perjury and served 18 months. Died February 14, 1999.

H.R. Haldeman - Nixon Chief of Staff. Convicted of conspiracy and obstruction of justice and served 18 months. Died November 12, 1993.

Richard Nixon - 37th President of the United States, pardoned. Died April 22, 1994.

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