Eli5: What was The Watergate scandal?


Truly explain it like I’m 5, never really understood what happened.

In: 18

Richard Nixon was the president. He wanted to get reelected. He paid people to steal things from his opponents headquarters to get an advantage. They got caught and the investigation revealed more illegal things he was doing. He then resigned before he was able to be impeached.

A few goons broke into the democratic headquarters to tap and steal stuff.

The goons were got.

Then a couple of very good reporters with the help from a man named Deepthroat uncovered Nixon was the man with the plan.

In the end, Nixon resigns.

All The President’s Men (1976) is a great movie on the subject.

Just wanted to add (and upvote the other comments), it’s called Watergate because that was the name of the building (and complex) that was broken into.

The short version. President Nixon’s campaign tried to bug the Democratic committees headquarters. They were caught in the act. He was informed about it and then with his staff tried to cover it up. Everything came out due to diligent reporting by the Washington Post and NYT. Nixon was impeached and would have been convicted by the Senate. He resigned instead.
A good read on the subject is “All the President’s Men” by Woodward and Bernstein.

I don’t think it was ever really proven that Nixon had foreknowledge of that specific break in, but he certainly had goons and he encouraged them to do stuff of questionable legality. He felt entitled to after the Pentagon Papers leak. After the break in, Nixon wholeheartedly participated in the cover-up. Even then some of Nixon’s goons didn’t always tell him every detail at once. Sometimes to protect him, sometimes to protect themselves. I read a long book of The White House recording transcripts about 10 years back and the thing that stood out to me the most was how they were trying to figure out what really happened while also trying to come up with plausible cover stories. And as it went on it was hard for even them to keep track of what was what. They were constantly asking each other to clarify if they were talking about a real event or their previously agreed upon cover story version of the event. Sometimes they were trying to come up with cover stories to cover up other cover stories that didn’t work. It was a mess.