Chronology: 1971-72


June 1971

Jun 13
The New York Times begins publishing the Pentagon Papers — the Defense Department’s secret history of the Vietnam War. The Washington Post begins publishing the papers later in the week.


Sep 1971

Sep 09
The White House “plumbers” unit – named for their orders to plug leaks in the administration – burglarizes a psychiatrist’s office to find files on Daniel Ellsberg, the former defense analyst who leaked the Pentagon Papers.



May 1972

May 28
Bugging equipment is installed at the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate hotel and office complex in Washington DC. It transpires later that this is not the first Watergate burglary.


June 1972

Jun 17
Five burglars are arrested at 2.30am during a break-in at the Watergate: Bernard Barker, Virgilio Gonzalez, Eugenio Martinez, James W. McCord and Frank Sturgis. James W. McCord is the security director for the Committee for the Re-election of the President (CREEP).

June 19
A GOP security aide is among the Watergate burglars, The Washington Post reports. Former attorney general John Mitchell, head of the Nixon reelection campaign, denies any link to the operation.

June 23
President Nixon has a conversation with his Chief of Staff, H.R. Haldeman. Two years later, the tape of the conversation is released, following an order by the Supreme Court. The Smoking Gun tape reveals that Nixon ordered the FBI to abandon its investigation of the Watergate break-in.


August 1972

Aug 01
A $25,000 cashier’s check, apparently earmarked for the Nixon campaign, wound up in the bank account of a Watergate burglar, according to a report in the Washington Post.

Aug 30:
Nixon claimed that White House counsel John Dean had conducted an investigation into the Watergate matter and found that no-one from the White House was involved.


September 1972

Sep 15
The first indictments in Watergate are made against the burglars: James W. McCord, Frank Sturgis, Bernard Barker, Eugenio Martinez and Virgilio Gonzalez. Indictments are also made against E. Howard Hunt and G. Gordon Liddy.

Sep 29
The Washington Post reports that John Mitchell, while serving as Attorney-General, controlled a secret Republican fund used to finance widespread intelligence-gathering operations against the Democrats.


October 1972

Oct 10
FBI agents establish that the Watergate break-in stems from a massive campaign of political spying and sabotage conducted on behalf of the Nixon reelection effort, according to a report in The Washington Post.


November 1972

Nov 11
Nixon is reelected in one of the largest landslides in American political history, taking more than 60 percent of the vote and crushing the Democratic nominee, Sen. George McGovern of South Dakota.

Nov 22
Walter Cronkite devoted 15 minutes to Watergate on the CBS Evening News. The scandal becomes a mainstream media issue.


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