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Watergate was the name of the biggest political scandal in United States history It included various illegal activities designed to help President Richard M Nixon win reelection in 1972 Watergate resulted in Nixons resignation from the presidency in 1974 Watergate differed from most previous political scandals because personal greed apparently did not play an important role Instead Watergate represented an attack on one of the chief features of a democracy--free and open elections The Watergate activities included burglary wiretapping violations of campaign financing laws and sabotage and the attempted use of government agencies to harm political opponents The scandal also involved a cover-up of many of those actions About 40 people were charged with crimes in the scandal and with related crimes Most of these people were convicted by juries or pleaded guilty Watergate involved more high-level government officials than any previous political scandal It led to the conviction on criminal charges in 1975 of former Attorney General John N Mitchell and two of Nixons top aides John D Ehrlichman and H R Haldeman Also in 1975 former Secretary of Commerce Maurice H Stans a leader of Nixons reelection campaign pleaded guilty to Watergate criminal charges and was fined 5000 Watergate also had resulted in the resignation of Attorney General Richard G Kleindienst in 1973 The break-in and cover-up The scandal took its name from the Watergate complex of apartment and office buildings in Washington DC On June 17 1972 police arrested five men for breaking into the Democratic Partys national headquarters there One of the burglars was James W McCord Jr the security coordinator of the Committee for the Re-election of the President CRP The five men--along with G Gordon Liddy another CRP aide and E Howard Hunt Jr a White House consultant--were indicted for a number of crimes including burglary and wiretapping In January 1973 five of the seven including Hunt pleaded guilty The other two--Liddy and McCord--were found guilty by a jury
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