A Chronology of the Watergate Crisis

"In all my years of public life, I have never obstructed justice. People have got to know whether or not their President is a crook.
Well, I'm not a crook; I earned everything I've got."
Richard Nixon, 1973

Event  Date  Note
Kennedy defeats Nixon in 1960 presidential race November 1960 In an extremely close election, Vice-President Nixon loses to JFK.
Pat Brown defeats Nixon in 1962 California gubernatorial race November 1962 Following defeat, Nixon tells reporters "You won't have Dick Nixon to kick around anymore."
Nixon defeats Humphrey and Wallace for president November 1968 During the height of the Vietnam War, Nixon wins by 510,000 votes out of 73,000,000 (43%) of popular vote.
Nixon orders wiretaps to discover leaks of secret bombing of Cambodia May 1969 FBI is given orders for wiretap though no court order is obtained.
Pentagon Papers published by New York Times June 13, 1971 Daniel Ellsberg is indicted for theft, conspiracy, and espionage for leaking papers that expose the government's plans in Vietnam, though the Supreme Court refuses to stop publishing papers.
Plumbers unit created to discredit Ellsberg June 1971 Secret White House group assigned to ruin Ellsberg's reputation break into psychiatrist's office in Beverly Hills but find nothing embarassing.
Plumbers present program to Attorney General Mitchell January 1972 $1 million program of kidnapping, wiretaps, and other illegal campaign activities. Mitchell rejects plan as too expensive, but does not condemn as wrong.
Dirty tricks in 1972 presidential race Spring 1972 In plan to divide Democrats, Nixon's aides uses various techniques, including forged letters to cause ill-will among candidates.
Watergate burglars arrested June 17, 1972 Plumbers break into Democratic National Committee offices to repair wiretap bug. White House dismisses event as "third-rate burglary."
Hush money paid to Watergate burglars September 1972 $220,000 given to convicted Plumbers in exchange for promise of silence.
Nixon defeats McGovern for presidency November 1972 Carrying 49/50 states (520-17 in the electoral college) and 61% of the popular vote, Nixon easily defeats McGovern.
Nixon lies about his awareness of cover-up April 17, 1973 Stating that he learned of cover-up in March of 1973, Nixon orders "intensive new inquiries." In fact, he knew about coverup since June 1972.
Nixon fires top aides April 29, 1973 Ehrlichman and Haldemann fired by Nixon, who appoints new Attorney General Elliot Richardson who is empowered to appoint a special prosecutor for the Watergate matter.
Senate Watergate hearings May 1973 Sen. Ervin conducts three months of televised hearings which report enemies lists, money drops, illegally obtained campaign funds, and harassment by IRS of political enemies. Most importantly, a secret tape-recording system in the White House is discovered. 
Vice-President Agnew accused of income-tax evasion, bribery, conspiracy, and extortion August 1973 At first protesting innocence, Agnew eventually resigns and pleads "no contest" to charges. He is fined $10,000 and placed on three years probation. Agnew is succeeded by Gerald Ford as vice-president in October.
Court rules Nixon must present tapes to Special Prosecutor Archibold Cox October 1973 Appeals Court rules 5-2 that "the President ...is not above the law's commands." 
Saturday Night Massacre October 20, 1973 Nixon offers summaries of tapes to Cox, who demands actual tapes. Nixon orders Richardson to fire Cox, who refuses and resigns. Asst. Attorney General Ruckelshaus also refuses and resigns. Finally Robert Bork fires Cox. In its first-ever editorial, Time magazine states "The President Should Resign."
8 former White House aides indicted by grand jury for conspiring in cover-up March 1974 Mitchell, Haldeman, Ehrlichmann and others accused of obstructing justice and perjury. Nixon is named as an unindicted co-conspirator because Special Prosecutor Leon Jaworski argued that a president must first be impeached and removed from office before an indictment.
Nixon releases heavily-edited tape transcripts April 1974 In televised address, Nixon releases transcripts allegedly containing all relevant Watergate information. They reveal President and aides to be vulgar and constantly plotting to "get" their enemies. Republican Senator Scott calls taped conversations "shabby, disgusting, and immoral." A key 18-minute section of a June 20, 1972 meeting is inexplicably missing.
House Committee recommends impeachment hearings July 1974 Judiciary Committee votes 27-11 to impeach Nixon for coverup, abuse of powers, and failure to abide by subpoenas.
In U.S. v. Richard Nixon, Supreme Court rules that Nixon must hand over tapes July 24, 1974 Voting 8-0, Court rules that executive privilege does not apply and that Nixon must hand over tapes to Judge John Sirica.
Nixon releases three tapes to soften impact of full disclosure August 5, 1974 Included is the "smoking gun" which proves that Nixon ordered cover-up as early as June 23, 1972 and lied to the public for nine months.
Secretary of Defense requires all military commanders to refuse orders from White House unless also signed by him August 5, 1974 Secretary Schlesinger issues first-ever order, indicating lack of trust in Nixon's decision-making
Nixon resigns the presidency August 8, 1974 After pledging to his Cabinet his refusal to resign, top Republicans inform him that if impeached, he would be convicted by a huge margin in the Senate. Nixon becomes first president to resign office. Ford succeeds Nixon.
Ford pardons Nixon September 1974 Proclaiming that the "long national nightmare is over," Ford issues pardon for any Nixon crimes.

Please cite this source when appropriate:

 Feldmeth, Greg D. "U.S. History Resources"
http://home.earthlink.net/~gfeldmeth/USHistory.html (31 March 1998).

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