Richard Nixon: Was he a Crook? Readings, Activities, & more -Nixon's Rise /Fall

Richard Nixon: Was he a Crook? Readings, Activities, & more -Nixon's Rise /Fall
Richard Nixon: Was he a Crook? Readings, Activities, & more -Nixon's Rise /Fall
Richard Nixon: Was he a Crook? Readings, Activities, & more -Nixon's Rise /Fall
Richard Nixon: Was he a Crook? Readings, Activities, & more -Nixon's Rise /Fall
Richard Nixon: Was he a Crook? Readings, Activities, & more -Nixon's Rise /Fall
Richard Nixon: Was he a Crook? Readings, Activities, & more -Nixon's Rise /Fall
Richard Nixon: Was he a Crook? Readings, Activities, & more -Nixon's Rise /Fall
Richard Nixon: Was he a Crook? Readings, Activities, & more -Nixon's Rise /Fall
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Nixon, Was he a Crook?

Not long after President Richard M. Nixon’s 1972 reelection, the huge Watergate Scandal began to unfold. The root of the scandal was a break-in at the Democratic Party’s headquarters in Washington D.C. Tapes of White House conversations leader revealed that Richard Nixon and his top aides had tried to cover up the break-in.

President Richard Nixon stood at the summit of his long government career when he was reelected President in a landslide in November 1972. Yet, less than two years later, Nixon left office in disgrace, the first time a {resident of the United States had signed. The Watergate scandal; gripped the nation and shaped the values and attitudes toward government that many Americans hold today

Good Things Nixon Did “Bad” Things Nixon Did

Nixon’s policies Target Middle America.
Richard Nixon’s political career had more ups and down than a roller coaster ride. Brought up in hard times, he worked his way through college and law school. After service in the navy during World War II, Nixon was elected ti the House of Representatives in 1946 and then to the Senate in 1950. As Dwight D. Eisenhower’s running mate in 1952, he became Vice President with Eisenhower’s victory. Nixon was not yet 40 years old.
Then came the defeats. In 1960, Nixon narrowly lost to John F. Kennedy in the race for the White House. Two years later, Nixon’s career hit bottom when he lost an election to become governor of California. In 1968, however, Nixon made a dramatic comeback, narrowly defeating Democrat Hubert Humphrey to win the presidency.

Nixon Calls for a “New Federalism”
During the campaign for President, Nixon cast himself as the spokesperson for those he called Middle Americans, or the silent majority. As Nixon put it at the 1968 Republican convention, he sought to speak for the “non-shouters, the non-demonstrators”, the men and women who “work in America’s factories… run America’s businesses….serve in the government… provide most of the soldiers…. (And) give life to the American dream.”
Winning the support of Middle America proved a tricky task. Nixon believed that Americans had tired of the “big” government of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society. However, he also believed that the American people still wanted the government to address various social ills, ranging from crime to pollution.
Nixon’s solution was to call for the establishment of a “new federalism”. As he explained in his 1971 State of the Union address, the nation needed to “reverse the flow of power and resources from the States and communities to Washington and start power and resources flowing back from Washington to the States and communities.” Nixon proposed revenue sharing with the states. Under revenue sharing, the federal government gave the states the money to fund social programs. The states then controlled the operations of these programs

Nixon Expands the Government’s role
However, while returning power and money to the states, Nixon also sponsored many programs that increased the size and role of the federal government. During his presidency, a number of powerful new federal agencies and laws came into existence. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulates workplaces to make them safer for workers. The DEA and Drug Enforcement Administration, administer the federal war against illegal drugs. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA_ enforces federal environmental standards. The Clean Air Act, signed into law in 1970, gives the EPA the power to set air quality stands.
Nixon’s welfare policies also reflected his complicated domestic strategy, to decrease the power of the federal government, Nixon began to dismantle the Office of Economic Opportunity, the cornerstone of Lyndon B. Johnson’s “war on poverty”. Yet, Nixon also proposed creating a Family Assistance Plan (FAP), which called for providing a guaranteed or minimum income to every American family. Although the FAP did not become law, federal spending on other social welfare programs, such as Medicare and public housing, grew steadily, especially during Nixon’s early years.

The Economy Struggles
As his presidency progressed, Nixon grappled with an increasingly troublesome economy. After decades of strong growth and low inflation, the US economy experienced both recession and inflation at the same time. These symptoms began during the Johnson administration, but they grew stronger during the Nixon years. The combination of recession and inflation baffled economists and ked them to coin the new term, stagflation, to describe the dual conditions of a stagnating economy and inflationary pressures.
Stagflation had several causes/. Expanding federal budget deficits caused by the Vietnam War produced inflation. Another cause was rising foreign competition, which cost thousands of Americans their jobs. Heavy industries such as steel and auto production, which had enjoyed a dominant position since World War II, proved exceptionally vulnerable to foreign competition. Yet the factors that cause most American pain was the rapid increase in the prices of oil.
During the 1973 war between Israel and its Arab neighbors the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) placed an oil embargo on Israel’s allies, including the United States. Americans soon felt the sting of this embargo as oil prices skyrocketed 400 percent in a single year. The embargo lasted until the string of 1974 and resulted in gas lines at the pumps that stretched for blocks.
Nixon fought stagflation in a variety of ways. Most dramatically in August 1971, he placed a 90-day freeze on all wages and prices. The controls worked for a short time, and the economy enjoyed a spurt of growth. However, price controls do not world well in a free economy, and the economy went into a tailspin in the mid-1970s.

QUESTION: What was President Nixon’s attitude toward Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society Program? What was Nixon’s attitude toward Big Government?

Nixon Follows a Southern Strategy
Having narrowly won the presidency in 1968, Richard Nixon set out to expand his base of support. He targeted blue collar workers and southern whites, both of whom had traditionally voted for Democrats. By winning the support of southern whites, Nixon hoped to make the Republican Party a powerful force in the South. Commentators called this Nixon’s southern strategy.

Controversy Rages over Busting.
Following his southern strategy, Nixon tried to place a number of conservative southerners as judges in federal courts. Most prominently, he nominated Clement Haynesworth and G. Harold Carswell to serve on the US Supreme Court. Both men failed to win Senate confirmation, in part because both had supported segregation in the past.
Criticizing court-ordered busing of schoolchildren to schools outside their neighborhood was another way Nixon reached out to southern whites and urban blue collared workers. For years, any school district in both the South and the North had resisted desegregation. In 1971, federal courts ordered school districts to bus students to achieve greater racial balance. Recognizing the unpopularity of busing, Nixon made a nationally televised address in which he called for a moratorium, or freeze on court-ordered busing. By speaking forcefully, Nixon won the support of many busing opponents.

Nixon Proposes New Civil Rights Initiatives
Yet, as with much else that he did, Nixon’s stance on civil rights was mixed. In 1969, the Nixon administration initiated the Philadelphia Plan, a program that required labor unions and federal contractors to submit goals and timetables for the hiring of minorities. Like other kinds of affirmative action plans in employments and education, it south to help African Americans overcome past discrimination. Nixon’s Assistant Secretary of Labor Arthur Fletcher, who designed the Philadelphia Plan argue” “The Federal government has an obligation to see that every citizen has an equal chance at the most basic freedom of all- the right to succeed… Segregation didn’t occur naturally- it was imposed… the gap… between black and white… was growing wider and wider… Visible measurable goals to correct (these) imbalances are essential.”
-Arthur Fletcher, Assistant Secretary of Labor, speech on affirmative action, 1969

Nixon’s Strategy Succeeds.
As the 1972 election approached, Nixon enjoyed high approval ratings. Some of this popularity was based on his trips to the Soviet Union and China. Some was based on his domestic policies.
Nixon ran a masterful political campaign in 1972, positioning himself as a moderate. He portrayed his opponents- George McGovern , and antiwar senator from South Dakota, and Alabama governors George Wallace- as extremists. (Wallace’s campaign was cut short when he was shot and left paralyzed by a would-be assassin). Nixon and his Vice President, Spiro Agnew, successfully cast themselves as spokesperson for the silent majority. On Election Day, Nixon won almost 61% of the popular vote and nearly all of the electoral votes. He came the first Republican Presidential Candidate to sweep the entire South. His southern strategy had succeeded.
Question: In what ways did Nixon appear to send mixed messages about civil rights?

A triumphant Richard Nixon stood before the cameras on election night 1972, he had no idea that the seeds of his downfall had already begun to sprout. The botched burglary of Democratic Party headquarters at the Watergate complex in June 1972 received little attention at first. But as investigators began to unravel the connections between the burglars and the White House, Watergate as the scandal became known, came to dominate the national news.
The Watergate burglars were tries in 1973. After the trial, one of them, James McCord, charged that administration officials had been involved in the break in. This led to a Senate investigation and to televised hearings, where numerous witnesses charged that the President and his top aides had taken part in a cover-up. From the first news of the break-in, President Nixon denied any wrongdoings. Yet, as time went on, investigators discovered important links between the burglars and top Nixon administration officials.
Watergate Goes Public.
Two young Washington Post journalists, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein played a crucial role in lifting the veil of secrecy from the Watergate scandal. The two reporters followed tips provided by secret government informant knows as “Deep Throat”, who was later revealed to be a top official of the FBI. Woodward and Bernstein reported that the men who had attempted to burglarize the Watergate hotel had close ties to Nixon’s reelection committee.
Nixon repeatedly proclaimed his innocence. For example, in November 1973, long after evidence had implicated his top aides and forced them to resign, Nixon declared, “I am not a crook”. Yet the polls indicated that the public disagreed. One poll, taken the next month, showed that less than one in five Americans believed that he was being honest about the Watergate affair.
The Watergate scandal created a historic showdown between the three branches of government. How far would Congress go to investigate the Present? Would the courts demand that the President turn over information that might implicated him? And if the court sided with Congress, would the President comply with its decisions?
Revealing the White House Tapes.
The Watergate scandal came to a climax with a dizzying array of developments. In the fall of 1973, Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned in the face of an unrelated corruption scandal. According to the procedures established by the Twenty-Fifth Amendment, which deals with presidential succession, Nixon nominated Gerald Ford to become his new Vice President. Then Nixon’s troubles multiplied when, in the summer of 1973, it was revealed that he had been secretly taping Oval Office conversations for many years. Many commentators speculated that these tapes would show that the President had played a leading role in trying to cover the break-in.
Nixon refused to turn over these tapes to the special prosecutor investigating the scandal. The President justified withholding the tapes by claiming executive privilege. Executive privilege is the principle that the President has the right to keep certain information confidential. It took almost a year for the courts to sort out the matter. On July 24, 1974, in the case of the United States vs. Nixon, the Supreme Court disagreed that the tapes fell under the principle of executive privilege and ordered Nixon to turn them over. Chief Justice Warren Burder made it clear that the Court rejected Nixon’s claim of executive privilege in this instance:
“The expectation of a President to the confidentiality of his conversations and correspondence, has all the values to which we accord deference for the privacy of a citizens… But this presumptive privilege must be considered in light of our historic commitment to the rule of law (the principal that all citizens are bound by the same laws)… The very integrity of the judicial system and public confidence in the system depend on full disclosure of all the facts, within the framework of the rules of evidence.”
- US Supreme Court, United States v. Nixon, 1974
Nixon Resigned.
When investigators listened to the tapes, they found that crucial parts of the conversation were missing. Nixon claimed his secretary had mistakenly erased them. Still, the tapes provided enough evidence of Nixon’s involvement in the cover-up to lead the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives to vote to impeach the President. The committee charged Nixon with obstructing justice in the cover-up of the Watergate break-in, misuse of power, and refusing to comply with House subpoenas.
A Number of Republican committee members joined the Democrats in voting for impeachment.
Recognizing that the full House of Representatives would vote in favor of impeachment and that many Republicans would vote to convict him in a trial in the Senate, Nixon decided to resign. In a speech to the American public on August 8, 1974, Nixon informed the nation that he would step down the following day in the hope that he “will have hastened the start of that process of healing which is so desperately needed in America.” The long ordeal of Watergate had finally come to an end. With it, Nixon became the first and only President to resign the presidency.
Historians disagree about whether Nixon knew beforehand of the decision to burglarize Democratic Party headquarters. However, few doubt that he took part in the cover-up. Testimony by his top aides, the Watergate tapes, and evidence gathered in the prosecution of the burglars all show that the President sought to quash the investigation.
Moreover, investigations revealed that Nixon had committed other abuses of presidential power. His reelection team had engaged in dirty tricks to secure his election. He had developed an “enemies list” and used federal agencies to go after his enemies. The President had ordered the FBI to place wiretaps on the telephones of those government employees and reporters he suspected of leaking information unfavorable to the administration

Watergate Has a Lasting Impact.
In pursuit of personal power, Richard Nixon damaged the reputation of the Presidency and shook the public’s confidence in government. One conservative commentator, formerly a supporter if Nixon echoed the disillusionment of many Americans:
“The lies, the lies, the lies! What a pity, what a pity! Here was a President who got us out of Vietnam, ended the draft… and by his bold overtures to red China opened new avenues toward world peace. Now the good vanishes in the wreckage of the bad. The swearing in of Gerald Ford can’t come one hour too soon.”
- James J Kilpatrick, National Review August 30,l 1974
Polls revealed that from the late 1950s to the mid-1970s, the percentage of Americans who believed in the truth of government statements plummeted from 80 percent to 33 percent.
In the wake of Watergate, Congress enacted numerous reforms to try to restore the public’s confidence in government and to percent abuses of power in the future. It established a procedure for naming an independent counsel to investigate charged against the white House. The Federal Election Campaign Act of 1974 south to limit the amount of money that individuals could give candidates, in order to prevent the corruption of the political process.
Yet, the Watergate affair also demonstrated that the nation could weather such a crisis. It showed the strength of the system of checks and balances. Both Congress and the Supreme Court had successfully checke3d the power of the President. According to Time Magazine, Nixon’s resignation represented an “extraordinary triumph of the American system”. Watergate demonstrated that no person, not even the President, is above the law. As Gerald Ford said when he became President: “Our great republic is a government of laws and not of men”

Questions: What role did Richard Nixon and his top aides play in the Watergate Scandal

Conduct research on Richard Nixon’s life and political career and create a resume for the former President that lists his educational background, past jobs, work experience, and any awards / accomplishments.



Background: One of the biggest political scandals in American history, Watergate has become synonymous with corruption and abuse of power. It began when President Nixon’s reelection committee tried to record the conversation of political opponents, led to a string of cover-ups at the highest levels of the US government, and ultimately forces Nixon from office. Nixon’s role in the cover-up shocked the nation.
The public might never have learned of the President’s actions without the investigative reporting of journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of the Washington Post, who broke the story in a series of articles/. Their revelations, and those of other reporters, may have left the American people’s faith in government shaken, but the aftermath reinforced the public’s trust in the constitutional system

While Watergate damaged the public’s trust of government officials, the US government’s systems of checks and balances withstood the crisis. Lawmakers passed laws to prevent similar abuses from happening. Tre role of the press in bringing the scandal to light reminded the public of the importance of a free press in a democratic society

Task: Using the timeline of information answer the following question:

June 1972
- Five men linked to President Nixon’s reelection campaign are arrested for trying to bug the offices of the Democratic National Committee in the Watergate complex in Washington D.C

April 1973
- Nixon denied knowledge of the Watergate break-in or any cover-up.

May 1973
- Archibald Cox is named as the Justice Department’s special prosecutor for Watergate. The Senate Watergate Committee begins nationally televised hearings.

June 1973
- Former White House counsel John Seal tells investigators that Nixon authorized a cover-up

July 1973
- Nixon, claiming executive privilege, refuses to release the tapes of secretly recorded Oval Office Conservations

October 1973
- Nixon offers investigators summaries of tapes, which Special Prosecutor Cox refuses. Nixon fires Cox. This triggers other firings and resignations in what becomes known as the Saturday Night Massacre
March 1974
- Former Nixon administration official are indicted on charges of conspiracy in the Watergate break-in. Richard Nixon is named as “undictated co-conspirator.”

July 1974
- The Supreme Court rules unanimously that Nixon must surrender all of the White House recordings requested by the new special prosecutors. The House Judiciary Committee recommend impeachment

August 1974
- Transcripts of tapes show that Nixon ordered a cover-up of the Watergate break-in. On August 9, Nixon becomes first president to resign


The President’s power to keep certain communications with his advisors confidential is called executive privilege. This power is based on the idea that members of the executive branch should be able to advise the President without worrying that their opinions will be revealed to other branches of government or to the public

The Facts The Issue The Decision
• Congressional investigation revealed that President Nixon and his aides may have committed illegal acts
• Taped Oval Office conservations between Nixon and his aides were sought as evidence
• Nixon refused to surrender the taped to the Department of Justice • Nixon argued that executive privilege gave him the absolute right to withhold the tapes from the Department of Justice Supreme Court ruled that executive privilege has limits. They said the executive privilege could not protect the President from the judicial process. Nixon must surrender the taped to prosecutors

Although not specifically granted by the Constitution, Presidents have long assumed that executive privilege is implied by the constitutional separation of powers. United States vs Nixon was the test case that allowed the Supreme Court to define executive privilege and to set limits on its use.

In his written opinion, Chief Justice Burger recognized that there is a need for confidentiality in the executive branch, particularly when “military, diplomatic or sensitive national security secrets” must be protected. Under those conditions, the President has the absolute right to keep communications confidential. However, communications between the President and his advisors often concern policy that has nothing to do with national security. In those cases, Burger said, executive privilege is limited. A Judge can decide that there is overwhelming government interest in obtaining the President’s privileged communications. The due process of law in a criminal case is one example of overwhelming government interest.

A few days after the decision in United States v. Nixon, President Nixon resigned from office. The Court’s ruling had proved that the President is not above the law.

Consider the limits of executive pledge outlined in United States vs. Nixon. During their respective terms in office, recent Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush have applied executive privilege in controversial situations. Research one example and the n write a paragraph either defending or arguing against this use of executive privilege.

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