Watergate Part 2


This is Part 2. You should probably read Part 1 first. Just click here.

By the start of 1973 old Tricky Dick Nixon was feeling pretty damn good.  Not only had he managed to win re-election by one of the biggest landslides in American history, but he had also managed to contain the damage caused by the Watergate break in to a couple of bungling burglars and few idiotic members of his re-election campaign, all of whom had either plead guilty or been convicted by January without a single one implicating anyone within the Nixon administration.  With the scandal firmly behind him, he could get back to concentrating on leading the country forward.  Oh wait, that's not right, things actually blew up in his fucking face.  

Nixon's problems began again in February when he attempted to reward the acting head of the FBI by having him made into the permanent head of the FBI, a process that required a series of confirmation hearings before the Senate.  Not really being all that good at such things, the acting head let it slip that he had been providing the White House Counsel, a man named John Dean, with daily updates throughout the Watergate investigation and that Dean had probably lied to the FBI.  Unsurprisingly the acting head of the FBI did not get confirmed.  This was soon after followed in March by one of the convicted White House Plumbers writing a letter to the case's judge claiming that he had committed perjury on the orders of high level Nixon administration officials.  As a result, the Justice Department began looking deeper into the whole mess, quickly finding more Plumbers that were willing to implicate White House officials, key amongst them Counsel John Dean and the Chief of Staff. 

It was at this point that Nixon in effect began a cover up of the cover up.  At the time nobody was sure how high things went and there was no evidence to connect the president to the dirty dealings of the past year.  To save his own ass, Nixon began setting up several of his aides as scapegoats.  This didn't sit well with sacrificial lamb numero uno, John Dean, who began secretly working with Justice Department investigators.  However, this was far from being a smoking gun since Dean refused to tell all he knew, hoping to use his information has leverage to avoid prosecution.  By the end of April the Justice Department informed Nixon that they had enough evidence to implicate seven of his aides, including John Dean, in a cover up.  Nixon responded by firing the seven aides.  However, his trouble was far from over.  At the same time the acting head of the FBI let it slip to a Senator he was friends with that he had been ordered by Dean to destroy evidence.  The Senator, not being a piece of shit, leaked this to the press.  

Throughout all of these shenanigans the source in the FBI known as Deepthroat continued to leak information on the investigation to the Washington Post.  As a result, the Democrat majority Senate created a special investigation committee in mid-May, and two days later the Justice Department appointed a Special Prosecutor who would work outside the normal Justice Department hierarchy to investigate possible crimes by Nixon.  The Democrats turned the Senate committee's investigation into political theater, televising every meeting for all the world to see.  By June, John Dean was willing to admit that he had discussed the cover up with Nixon on numerous occasions, but other than his testimony, which Nixon's allies claimed was just Dean trying to get himself out of trouble, there was no evidence.  The hearings dragged on with no progress.  

Things finally changed in July when a former low level Nixon aide revealed that all conversations and phone calls in the Oval Office had been tape recorded since 1971.  Both the Senate and the Special Prosecutor subpoenaed the tapes, but Nixon refused to hand them over, citing executive privilege.  With no other options, the subpoenas started grinding their way through the court system and gradually the public began to lose interest.  Even as all this was going on, a separate investigation was taking place concerning Vice President Spiro Agnew for taking bribes nearly a decade ago while an official in Maryland.  Under mounting pressure, Agnew resigned in October, leaving the Vice Presidency vacant.  Seeing an opportunity, Nixon went to his Attorney General and demanded that he fire the Special Prosecutor.  In what became known as the Saturday Night Massacre, the Attorney General refused, instead choosing to resign, as did his second in command.  The third in command did as he was told.  The move outraged Nixon's opponents and the majority of the public.  To try and smooth things over Nixon went to Disney World and gave his famous "I'm not a crook" speech.  When that didn't work he was forced to tuck his tail between his legs and allow the appointment of a new Special Prosecutor just 11 days after firing the first.   

To hear the grand finale in part 3 you'll have to come back next week.