DBQ: Watergate the Anatomy of a Scandal
What were the roles of the Congress, the press, and the courts in investigating President Nixon’s unchecked presidential power?
President Richard Nixon’s administration was marred by political scandal, called Watergate. That led to his resignation. What were the roles of the Congress, the press, and the courts in investigating President Nixon’s unchecked presidential power?
Use your knowledge of World War II and the documents to answer the questions and then the essential question below.
“If they president, for example approves something because of the national security, or in this case because of a threat to internal peace and order of significant magnitude, then the president’s decision in that instance is one that enables those who carry it out, to carry it our without violating a law. Otherwise they’re in an impossible position… (It) has been however argued that as far as a president is concerned, that in war time, a president does have certain extraordinary powers which would make acts that would otherwise be unlawful, lawful if undertaken for the purpose of preserving the nation and the Constitution, which is essential for the rights we’re all talking about.”
- President Nixon, from an interview with British TV host, David Frost, May 19,1977
“The Constitution charged the President with the task of taking care that the laws be faithfully executed, and yet the President has counseled his aides to commit perjury, willfully disregard the secrecy of grand jury proceedings, conceal surreptitious entry, attempt to compromise a federal judge, while publicly displaying his cooperation with the process of criminal justice… Has the President committed offenses, and planned, and directed, and acquiesced in a course of conduct which the Constitution will not tolerate? That’s the question. It is reason, and not passion, which must guide our deliberations, guide our debate, and guide our decision.”
- Barbara Jordan, statement at the US House of Judiciary Committee Impeachment Hearings, Washington, DC July 25, 1974
1. What point of view does document A present?
2. Document B shows the role of the press in the Watergate scandal, what does it reveal?
3. In Document C, what was the purpose of Barbara Jordan’s statement?
4. Writing Task: Did Congress, the press, and the courts successfully do their jobs in investigating the Watergate scandal that led to President Richard Nixon’s resignation? Use your knowledge of the event and the documents to support your answer