On June 17, 1972, five men were arrested for breaking and entering into the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office complex.
This seemingly random break-in was escalated to international infamy when payments to those 5 men were traced back to the Committee for the Re-election of the President, which was a fundraising group for the re-election of President Richard Nixon.
The investigation into the scandal also revealed a series of taped conversations which implicated the President’s involvement of attempting to cover the up the break in. This ultimately led to Nixon’s resignation to avoid impeachment.
However, there are still many lingering questions from the Watergate Scandal that were left unanswered.
One of the many unanswered questions to come out of the Watergate Scandal is who ordered the Watergate break-in in the first place?
Since it is obvious that Nixon tried to cover it up, it is easy to assume that the President was the one that ordered the break-in.
However, the President always maintained that he had no previous knowledge of the break-in. There is also a matter of evidence, which is circumstantial at best.
There is some hearsay floating around stating that the President was overhead ordering the break in, but that cannot be confirmed. Unless some sort of recording ever surfaces, we may never really know who ordered the break-in.
What Were They Looking For?
Another lingering question from the scandal is what were the buglers looking for?
The investigation uncovered that the men were paid by the Committee for the Re-election of the President; however, the investigation did not uncover the purpose of the break-in.
Speculation ran rampant about the reasons behind the break-in, which ranged from looking for incriminating or embarrassing information on Democratic Party Chairman, Lawrence F. O’brien, to an attempt to discover if the DNC had any incriminating or embarrassing information on Nixon.
Once again, unless any documents ever surface that describe the reason or reasons behind the break-in; its true purpose may be lost to history.
Many of the lingering questions revolve around the series of taped conversations that Nixon was forced to turn over by the U.S Supreme Court.
It was these tapes that provided the proof that Nixon attempted to cover-up the break in. However, it is what is not on the tapes that still raise some questions.
During a review of the recordings, it was discovered that there were 18-minutes of silence on one of the tapes. Audio experts of the time determined that the tapes were intentionally erased, but it was never determined why.
Many believe that the erased portion of the tape included Nixon’s order to break into the DNC. Nevertheless, this may never be confirmed.
Evidence Covered Up
Another question that was raised concerning the tape is the issue of how the missing segment was erased.
During the court trials, Rosemary Woods, the President’s secretary, claimed that she did it. However, she also maintained that it was an accident.
Woods claimed that it happened as she was reaching for the phone. Yet, when she was asked to demonstrate how it happened, Woods could not.
To most observers, it is plainly obvious that the tape erasure was no accident. Chances are that it was Woods who erased the tapes at the request of the President, but again, this may never be confirmed because of the lack of evidence.
The Watergate Scandal is a dark stain on the White House and the freedoms it is supposed to represent. The entire scandal left a bad taste in the mouths of Americans and created tremendous distrust in the Oval Office – a distrust that remains even today.
Unfortunately, these lingering questions may never be answered because the evidence is just not available. The answers are likely lost to history, leaving them open to speculation for years to come.