The Watergate Scandal: A Timeline

Previously posted at:

We look at the milestones of a scandal that rocked the nation.

January 1969

Richard Nixon is inaugurated as the 37 President of the United States.

February 1971

Richard Nixon orders the installation of a secret taping system that records all conversations in the Oval Office, his Executive Office Building office, and his Camp David office and on selected telephones in these locations.

June 13, 1971

The New York Times begins publishing the Pentagon Papers, the Defense Department’s secret history of the Vietnam War. The Washington Post will begin publishing the papers later in the week.

The Pentagon Papers (TV-PG; 3:50) 1971

Nixon and his staff recruit a team of ex-FBI and CIA operatives, later referred to as “the Plumbers” to investigate the leaked publication of the Pentagon Papers. On September 9, the “plumbers” break into the office of Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist, in an unsuccessful attempt to steal psychiatric records to smear Daniel Ellsberg, the defense analyst who leaked the Pentagon Papers to the press.

January 1972

One of the “plumbers,” G. Gordon Liddy, is transferred to the Committee to Re-Elect the President (CREEP), where he obtains approval from Attorney General John Mitchell for a wide-ranging plan of espionage against the Democratic Party.

May 28, 1972

Liddy’s team breaks into the Democratic National Committee Headquarters at the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C. for the first time, bugging the telephones of staffers.

The Watergate Complex is an office-apartment-hotel building in the neighborhood of Foggy Bottom, Washington, DC., overlooking the Potomac River.June 17, 1972

Five men are arrested after breaking into the Democratic National Committee Headquarters. Among the items found in their possession were bugging devices, thousands of dollars in cash and rolls of film. Days later, the White House denied involvement in the break-in.

June 17, 1972

A young Washington Post crime reporter, Bob Woodward, is sent to the arraignment of the burglars. Another young Post reporter, Carl Bernstein, volunteers to make some phone calls to learn more about the burglary.

June 20, 1972

Bob Woodward has his first of several meetings with the source and informant known as “Deep Throat,” whose identity, W. Mark Felt, the associate director of the FBI, was only revealed three decades later.

August 1, 1972

An article in The Washington Post reports that a check for $25,000 earmarked for Nixon’s 1972 re-election campaign was deposited into the bank account of one of the men arrested for the Watergate break-in. Over the course of nearly two years, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein continue to file stories about the Watergate scandal, relying on many sources.

Bob Woodward (left) and Carl Bernstein in the Washington Post newsroom, 1973.August 30, 1972

Nixon announces that John Dean has completed an internal investigation into the Watergate break-in, and has found no evidence of White House involvement.

September 29, 1972

The Washington Post reports that while serving as Attorney General, John Mitchell had controlled a secret fund to finance intelligence gathering against Democrats. When Carl Bernstein calls Mitchell for comment, Mitchell threatens both Bernstein and Katharine Graham, the publisher of the Post. The Post prints the threat.

October 10, 1972

Woodward and Bernstein report that the FBI had made connections between Nixon aides and the Watergate break-in.

October 1972

Articles by Woodward and Bernstein describe the existence of a major “dirty tricks” campaign conducted against Democratic Presidential candidate Edmund Muskie, orchestrated by Donald Segretti and others paid by CREEP and Nixon’s private attorney.

November 7, 1972

Nixon is elected to a second term in office after defeating Democratic candidate George McGovern.

January 8, 1973

The Watergate break-in trial begins.

Nixon Officials Caught in Watergate Scandal (TV-14; 0:38) January 30, 1973

Former Nixon aide and FBI agent G. Gordon Liddy and James McCord, an ex-CIA agent and former security director of the Committee to Re-elect the President (CREEP), are convicted for their roles in the break-in at the Watergate complex. They are found guilty of conspiracy, bugging DNC headquarters, and burglary. Four others, including E. Howard Hunt, had already plead guilty. Judge John J. Sirica threatens the convicted burglars with long prison sentences unless they talk.

March 21, 1973

In a White House meeting, White House Counsel John Dean tells Nixon, “We have a cancer—within—close to the Presidency, that’s growing.” He and Nixon discuss how to pay the Watergate bribers as much as $1 million in cash to continue the cover-up.

March 23, 1973

Watergate burglar James McCord’s letter confessing the existence of a wider conspiracy is read in open court by Judge Sirica. The Watergate cover-up starts to unravel.

April 6, 1973

Dean begins cooperating with Watergate prosecutors.

John Dean testifying for the second day before the Senate Watergate Committee, saying he was sure that President Nixon not only knew about the Watergate cover-up as early as last fall, but also helped try to keep the scandal quiet.April 9, 1973

The New York Times reports that McCord told the Senate Watergate Committee that a Republican group, the Committee to Re-elect the President (CREEP) had made cash payoffs to the Watergate burglars.

April 27, 1973

Acting FBI director L. Patrick Gray resigns after admitting that he destroyed documents given to him by John Dean days after the Watergate break-in.

April 30, 1973

The Watergate scandal intensifies as Nixon announces that White House aides John Ehrlichman and H.R. Haldeman have resigned. White House counsel John Dean is fired. (In October that year, Dean would plead guilty to obstruction of justice.) Attorney General Richard Kleindienst resigns. Later that night, Nixon delivers his first primetime address to the nation on Watergate, stressing his innocence.

May 17, 1973

Senator Sam Ervin opens the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities into the Watergate incident.

May 18, 1973

The first nationally televised hearings of the Senate Select Committee begin. Attorney General-designate Elliot Richardson appoints law professor and former U.S. Solicitor General Archibald Cox as special prosecutor in the Watergate investigation.

June 3, 1973

The Washington Post reports that Dean told Watergate prosecutors that he discussed the cover-up with Nixon at least 35 times. On June 25, Dean testifies before the Senate Select Committee about Nixon’s involvement.

Pieces of police evidence around the Watergate scandal. To the left are arrest photo enlargements of the 4 Cubans from Miami who committed the crime: Valdez Martinez, Virgilio Gonzalez, Bernard Barker, and Frank Sturgis.June 13, 1973

Prosecutors discover a memo to John Ehrlichman regarding plans for the Plumbers’ break-in of Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist.

July 13, 1973

Alexander Butterfield, former presidential appointments secretary, meets with Senate investigators, where he reveals the existence of an extensive, secret taping system in the White House. On July 16, he testifies before the Senate Committee in a live broadcast, revealing that since 1971 Nixon had recorded all conversations and telephone calls in his offices.

July 18, 1973

Nixon reportedly orders the White House taping system disconnected.

July to October 1973 

President Nixon refuses to turn over recordings of his White House conversations to the Senate investigation and to Cox. The tapes are believed to include evidence that Nixon and his aides had attempted to cover up their involvement in the Watergate break-in and other illegal activities. Nixon files appeals in response to various subpoenas ordering him to turn over the tapes.

August 15, 1973

The same day the Senate Select Committee wraps up its hearings, Nixon delivers a second primetime address to the nation on Watergate, saying “It has become clear that both the hearings themselves and some of the commentaries on them have become increasingly absorbed in an effort to implicate the President personally in the illegal activities that took place.” He reminded the American people that he had already taken “full responsibility” for the “abuses that occurred during my administration.”

Nixon Withholds Watergate Recordings (TV-PG; 3:51) October 10, 1973

Vice President Spiro Agnew resigns, amidst bribery and income-tax evasion charges, unrelated to the Watergate break-in. Two days later, Nixon nominates Michigan Congressman Gerald Ford as vice president. Ford is sworn in in December.

October 19, 1973

Nixon attempts a legal maneuver to avoid handing over the tapes to Cox by suggesting U.S. Sen. John Stennis to summarize the tapes for investigators. Cox will refuse the offer the next day.

October 20, 1973

Nixon orders the firing of special prosecutor Archibald Cox in what becomes known as the “Saturday Night Massacre.” Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus resign rather than carry out these orders. Solicitor General Robert Bork fires Cox. Several days later, Leon Jaworski is appointed as the second special prosecutor.

November 17, 1973

During a televised press conference in Florida, Nixon famously declares, “I’m not a crook,” and continues to profess his innocence.

Nixon: “I am Not a Crook” (TV-14; 1:28) November 21, 1973

White House Watergate counsel J. Fred Buzhardt reveals the existence of an 18 ½ minute gap on the tape of Nixon-Haldeman conversation on June 20, 1972. The White House is unable to explain the gap, although Nixon’s secretary Rose Mary Woods, will later claim she accidentally erased the material.

March 1, 1974

Indictments are handed down for the “Watergate Seven,” including John Mitchell, H.R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman. The grand jury names Nixon as an “unindicted co-conspirator.”

April 30, 1974

Transcripts of more than 1,200 pages of edited transcripts of the Nixon tapes are released by The White House.

May 9, 1974

House Judiciary Committee starts impeachment proceedings against Nixon.

July 24, 1974

The Supreme Court rules that Nixon must surrender dozens of original tape recordings of conversations to Jaworski.

Transcripts of the Watergate tapes arriving on Capitol Hill to be turned over to the House Judiciary Committee.July 27-30, 1974

Three articles of impeachment are debated and approved by the House Judiciary Committee against Nixon—obstruction of justice, misuse of power and contempt of Congress. The impeachment was sent to the floor of the House for a full vote but the vote was never carried out.

August 5, 1974

Nixon releases transcripts of three conversations with Haldeman on June 23, 1972. Known as the “smoking gun,” the transcripts reveal Nixon’s involvement in the Watergate cover-up.

August 8, 1974

President Nixon resigns. In a nationally televised speech, the president says, “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…Therefore, I shall resign the presidency effective at noon tomorrow.”

President Nixon as he boards the White House helicopter after resigning the presidency.August 9, 1974

Nixon signs his letter of resignation. Vice President Gerald Ford becomes president.

September 8, 1974

Nixon is pardoned by President Gerald Ford for any offenses he might have committed against the United States while president.

January 1975

Former chief of staff H.R. Haldeman, former domestic policy advisor John Ehrlichman, and former attorney general and Nixon campaign manager John Mitchell are tried and convicted of conspiracy charges arising from Watergate. In total, 41 people will receive criminal convictions related to the Watergate scandal.

2017 Las Vegas Shooting

Previously posted at:

On October 1, 2017, a gunman opened fire on a crowd attending the final night of a country music festival in Las Vegas, killing 58 people and injuring more than 800.

On this day in 2017, a gunman opened fire on a crowd attending the final night of a country music festival in Las Vegas, killing 58 people and injuring more than 800. Although the shooting only lasted 10 minutes, the death and injury tolls made this massacre the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history at the time of the attack.

Stephen Paddock, a 64-year-old retired man who lived in Mesquite, Nevada, targeted the crowd of concert-goers on the Las Vegas strip from the 32 floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel. He had checked into the hotel several days before the massacre.

Paddock began firing at the crowd at 10:05 p.m. using an arsenal of 23 guns, 12 of which were upgraded with bump stocks – a tool used to fire semi-automatic guns in rapid succession. Within the 10-minute period, he was able to fire more than 1,100 rounds of ammunition.

An open-door alert sent hotel security guard Jesus Campos to investigate the 32 floor at the start of the shooting. After arriving on the floor via the stairs, Campos couldn’t get past a barricade blocking the entrance so he used the elevator instead. While walking through the hall, he heard a drilling sound coming from Paddock’s room and was shot in the leg, through the door.

Once authorities were alerted, they arrived at Paddock’s suite at 10:17 p.m. and didn’t breach for nearly another hour at 11:20 p.m. Paddock was found dead by a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. His motives remain unknown.

In addition to the arsenal of weaponry found in Paddock’s hotel room, a note calculating how to attack the crowd based on trajectory and distance was also found. Authorities concluded that Paddock had no connections with terrorist groups such as ISIS and that his planned attack was carried out without accomplices.

The deadly shooting horrified the country and sparked debate over gun control legislation once again, with gun-control advocates claiming that Paddock’s use of bump stocks led to increased causalities. In response, President Trump said that he was open to banning the product, but would want to learn more about them first. One year following the shooting, 11 states had banned bump stocks and more than a dozen additional states and cities were considering bans.

Iconic child star Shirley Temple dies at 85

Previously posted at:

On this day in 2014, Shirley Temple Black, who as a child in the 1930s became one of Hollywood’s most successful stars, dies at her Woodside, California, home at age 85. The plucky, curly-haired performer sang, danced and acted in dozens of films by the time she was a teen; as an adult, she gave up making movies and served as a U.S. diplomat.

Born on April 23, 1928, in Santa Monica, California, Temple began taking dance lessons when she was three. In 1932, she was discovered by an agent and cast in a series of short films called “Baby Burlesks.” Her career took off in 1934, when she appeared in the film “Stand Up and Cheer” then went on to star in such movies as “Little Miss Marker” (1934), in which she played a girl left with a bookie as an IOU for her father’s bet on a horse; “Bright Eyes” (1934), which featured her signature song “On the Good Ship Lollipop”; “The Little Colonel” (1935), the first of four films she made with African-American entertainer Bill “Bojangles” Robinson; and “Curly Top” (1935), which included another one of her hit songs, “Animal Crackers in My Soup.” With America in the midst of the Great Depression, Temple’s sunny optimism lifted the spirits of movie audiences and helped make her the nation’s top box-office draw during the second half of the 1930s. (President Franklin Roosevelt once proclaimed, “As long as our country has Shirley Temple, we will be all right.”) Among Temple’s other films credits from this era are “Heidi” (1937), “Wee Willie Winkie” (1937) and “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm” (1938).

Temple’s cinematic career cooled when she entered her teens although she continued to work. The actress married at age 17 in 1945, only to divorce in 1949, a year after giving birth to her first child. In December 1950, she wed businessman Charles Black, and that same month announced her retirement from movie making. During the late 1950s and early 1960s, Temple, who had two children with her second husband, returned briefly to the entertainment business and hosted a TV show. She also became active in California’s Republican Party and in 1967 made an unsuccessful bid for the U.S. House of Representatives. In 1969, President Richard Nixon named her a delegate to the United Nations General Assembly. In 1972, Temple underwent treatment for breast cancer and became one of the first well-known women to speak out about the disease. From 1974 to 1976, she was President Gerald Ford’s ambassador to Ghana, and won praise for her work in that role. She went on to serve as Ford’s chief of protocol from 1976 to 1977. Under President George H.W. Bush, Temple was appointed the U.S. ambassador to Czechoslovakia in 1989 and saw the collapse of communism in that country.

In 1999, Temple, who earned an honorary Academy Award at age 6, was named one of the 50 greatest screen legends by the American Film Institute.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez dies at age 87

Previously posted at:

On this day in 2014, Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel Garcia Marquez, whose novels include “One Hundred Years of Solitude” and “Love in the Time of Cholera,” dies at his Mexico City home at age 87. The Colombian-born Garcia Marquez, a master of magical realism, a writing style that blends reality and fantasy, was considered a literary giant of the 20th century.

Born on March 6, 1927, in the town of Aracataca in northern Colombia, Garcia Marquez, whose father was a telegraph operator-turned-pharmacist, spent his early childhood living with his grandparents, who later served as inspiration for some of the characters in his books. After studying law at college, he became a journalist while also pursuing fiction writing. In 1955, an article he penned angered Colombia’s dictator and prompted Garcia Marquez to flee to Europe, where he worked as a foreign correspondent for several years. In the mid-1960s, he plunged his family into debt while devoting himself full-time to writing “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” about the rise and fall of the mythical town of Macondo (modeled on Garcia Marquez’s hometown of Aracataca) and the family who founded it, the Buendías. Released in 1967, the critically acclaimed novel went on to be translated into dozens of languages and sell tens of millions of copies around the world. American novelist William Kennedy called it “the first piece of literature since the Book of Genesis that should be required reading for the entire human race.”

Garcia Marquez’s next novel, “The Autumn of the Patriarch,” about the dictator of an unnamed Caribbean nation, was published in 1975; the author referred to it his best novel. In 1982, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature “for his novels and short stories, in which the fantastic and the realistic are combined in a richly composed world of imagination, reflecting a continent’s life and conflicts,” according to the Nobel committee. Three years later, he published the best-selling “Love in the Time of Cholera,” about two lovers who are reunited after half a century. Among Garcia Marquez’s later works are the novels “The General in His Labyrinth” (1989) and “Of Love and Other Demons” (1994); “News of a Kidnapping” (1996), a non-fiction book about Colombia’s Medellin drug cartel; and “Living to Tell the Tale” (2002), a memoir.

In addition to his writing, Garcia Marquez, nicknamed Gabo, was an avid supporter of various left-wing causes and a friend of Cuba’s Fidel Castro. For many years, the American State Department refused to issue the author a visa to travel in the United States, purportedly due to his links to the Colombian Communist Party in the 1950s. President Bill Clinton, a fan of Garcia Marquez’s writing, lifted the long-standing ban in the 1990s.

In 2012, it was announced that Garcia Marquez had developed dementia. He died two years later, on April 17, 2014. Afterward, President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia called him “the greatest Colombian of all time” and declared three days of national mourning, while President Barack Obama said, “the world has lost one of its greatest visionary writers– and one of my favorites from the time I was young.”

World’s most-wanted drug kingpin is captured in Mexico

Previously posted at:

On this day in 2014, one of the world’s most-wanted criminals, Joaquin “El Chapo” (“Shorty”) Guzman Loera, head of the Sinaloa cartel, the world’s biggest drug trafficking organization, is arrested in a joint U.S.-Mexican operation in Mazatlán, Mexico, after outrunning law enforcement for more than a decade. Guzman had been the target of an international hunt since 2001, when he escaped from a Mexican prison where he was serving a 20-year sentence. During his years on the lam, Guzman’s elusiveness was celebrated in “narcocorridos,” Mexican ballads glorifying the drug trade, while in such places as Chicago, where his cartel supplied the majority of the narcotics sold in the city, he was declared Public Enemy No. 1.

Born into poverty in the 1950s in the western Mexico state of Sinaloa, Guzman dropped out of school in the third grade. He became involved in the drug trade as a young man, and by the late 1980s had begun to amass power of his own as a trafficker. In 1993, rival drug traffickers tried to murder Guzman at a Mexican airport but instead killed a Roman Catholic cardinal, whom they mistook for Guzman, along with six other people. Soon after, Guzman was arrested in Guatemala then returned to Mexico, where he was convicted and sentenced to 20 years behind bars for drug trafficking, bribery and conspiracy. While locked up in a high-security prison in the Mexican state of Jalisco, Guzman paid off the staff and continued to run his criminal enterprise from behind bars. Then, in January 2001, he escaped the facility; some accounts claim Guzman was wheeled out in a laundry cart, while other sources suggest prison officials simply let him walk out.

In the ensuing years, Guzman hid out in the mountains of Sinaloa and other parts of Mexico and used violence, bribery and a large network of informants to help him remain a fugitive from justice. He would periodically dine out in public, sending his gunmen into a fancy restaurant ahead of him to confiscate the phones of the other patrons, and then returning the devices—and paying for everyone’s meal—after he’d finished eating. All the while, he continued to expand his drug trafficking empire, which grew into the biggest supplier of illegal narcotics in America. The U.S. government offered a $5 million reward for information leading to Guzman’s arrest

The break that ultimately led to Guzman’s capture came on February 20, 2014, when law enforcement agents traced a signal from a BlackBerry belonging to one of Guzman’s bodyguards to the Sinaloa resort city of Mazatlán. The following night, a group of Mexican marines, along with a small assemblage of agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Marshals, gathered in Mazatlán, where they had traced the BlackBerry signal to a condominium building called the Hotel Miramar. In the early hours of February 22, the marines found Guzman’s armed bodyguard protecting the entrance to one of the apartments at the Miramar. Quickly realizing he was outnumbered, the guard surrendered and the marines stormed the apartment. Inside, they found Guzman, his wife and young twin daughters and a personal chef and nanny. The drug lord ran into a bathroom only to give himself up moments later. No shots were fired during his arrest.

At the time Guzman was apprehended, the Sinaloa cartel was believed to be operating in some 50 countries. In the United States, where Guzman has been named in multiple indictments, Attorney General Eric Holder called the drug lord’s capture a “landmark achievement” and said, “The criminal activity Guzman allegedly directed contributed to the death and destruction of millions of lives across the globe through drug addiction, violence and corruption.” Guzman is currently being held in a prison outside Mexico City.

Mudslide in Washington state kills more than 40 people

Previously posted at:

On this day in 2014, 43 people die when a portion of a hill suddenly collapses and buries a neighborhood in the small community of Oso, Washington, some 55 miles northeast of Seattle. It was one of the deadliest mudslides in U.S. history.

The collapse occurred shortly after 10:30 a.m., when, following weeks of rain, a massive, fast-moving wall of mud and debris crashed down the hillside, destroying 49 homes and killing entire families. One recovery worker said the force of the mudslide caused cars to be “compacted down to about the size of a refrigerator, just smashed to the point where you can hardly tell it was a vehicle,” according to a Reuters report. The debris field from the slide covered a square mile and was estimated to be 80 feet deep in some places. In July 2014, search and rescue workers discovered what was believed to be the last body of the 43 victims killed in the disaster.

Investigators indicated heavy rainfall in the weeks prior to March 22 helped trigger the slide, although they did not blame the disaster on one specific factor. The Oso area has long been prone to mudslides, some dating back thousands of years. Prior to the 2014 incident, a significant slide took place at the same site in 2006, although efforts later were made to reinforce the area.

Mudslides, also known as mudflows, are a common type of landslide. Each year in the United States, more than 25 people on average die due to landslides, while thousands more are killed elsewhere around the world. In 1969, Hurricane Camille created flash floods and mudslides that killed an estimated 150 people in Nelson Country, Virginia. In 1985, a landslide set off by heavy rains in Puerto Rico killed some 130 people. More recently, in 2013, some 5,700 people in northern India perished as a result of landslides and flash floods caused by monsoon rains.