United States Senate Watergate Committee

The Senate Watergate Committee, known officially as the Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities, was a special committee established by the United States Senate, S.Res. 60, in 1973, to investigate the Watergate scandal, with the power to investigate the break-in at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C., and any subsequent cover-up of criminal activity, as well as "all other illegal, improper, or unethical conduct occurring during the presidential election of 1972, including political espionage and campaign finance practices".

American print news media focused the nation's attention on the issue with hard-hitting investigative reports, while television news outlets brought the drama of the hearings to the living rooms of millions of American households, broadcasting the proceedings live for two weeks in May 1973. The public television network PBS broadcast the hearings from gavel to gavel on more than 150 national affiliates.

Working under committee chairman Sam Ervin (D-North Carolina), the committee played a pivotal role in gathering evidence that would lead to the indictment of forty administration officials and the conviction of several of Richard Nixon's aides for obstruction of justice and other crimes. Its revelations prompted the impeachment process against Nixon, which featured the introduction of articles of impeachment against Nixon himself in the House of Representatives, which led to his resignation on August 9, 1974.

Senate Watergate Committee
Special committee
Seal of the United States Senate

United States Senate
93rd Congress
FormedFebruary 7, 1973
Disbandedabolished after June 27, 1974, when the committee's final report was published
ChairSam Ervin (D)
Ranking memberHoward Baker (R)
Seats7 members
Political partiesMajority (4)
Minority (3)
PurposeTo investigate "illegal, improper, or unethical activities" conducted by individuals involved with a campaign, nomination, and/or election of any candidate for President of the United States in the 1972 presidential election, and produce a final report with the committee's findings.


Shortly after midnight on June 17, 1972, five men were arrested inside the DNC offices.[1] The FBI launched an investigation of the incident, and the dogged reporting of two Washington Post journalists, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, raised questions and suggested connections between Richard Nixon's controversial reelection campaign and the men awaiting trial. The White House denied any connection to the break-in, and Nixon won reelection in a landslide.[2] Following confirmation that such a connection did in fact exist, the Senate voted 77-0 in February 1973 to create the Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities.[3]


The members of the Senate Watergate Committee were:

Democratic Party members State
Sam Ervin, Chairman North Carolina
Daniel Inouye Hawaii
Joseph Montoya New Mexico
Herman Talmadge Georgia
Republican Party members State
Howard Baker, Ranking Member Tennessee
Edward Gurney Florida
Lowell P. Weicker Jr. Connecticut

The chief counsel of the Committee was Samuel Dash, who directed the investigation. The minority counsel was Fred Thompson. Members of the Senate Watergate Committee's professional staff included:



From left to right: minority counsel Fred Thompson, ranking member Howard Baker, and chair Sam Ervin of the Senate Watergate Committee in 1973.

Hearings opened on May 17, 1973, and the Committee issued its seven-volume, 1,250-page report on June 27, 1974, titled Report on Presidential Campaign Activities. The first weeks of the committee's hearings were a national politico-cultural event. They were broadcast live during the day on commercial television; at the start, CBS, NBC, and ABC covered them simultaneously, and then later on a rotation basis, while PBS replayed the hearings at night.[6] Some 319 hours were broadcast overall, and 85% of U.S. households watched some portion of them.[6] The audio feed also was broadcast gavel-to-gavel on scores of National Public Radio stations, making the hearings available to people in their cars and workplaces, and giving a major boost to the fledgling broadcast organization.

The hearings made stars out of both Ervin, who became known for his folksy manner and wisdom but resolute determination, and Baker, who appeared somewhat non-partisan and uttered the famous phrase "What did the President know, and when did he know it?" (often paraphrased by others in later scandals). It was the introduction to the public for minority counsel Thompson, who would later become an actor, senator, and presidential candidate. Many of Watergate's most famous moments happened during the hearings, including John Dean's "cancer on the Presidency" testimony and Alexander Butterfield's revelation of the existence of the secret Nixon White House tapes.


  1. ^ "Watergate Scandal, 1973 In Review". United Press International. September 8, 1973. Retrieved June 17, 2010.
  2. ^ "Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities (The Watergate Committee)". Senate Historical Office. Retrieved December 31, 2016.
  3. ^ "March 28, 1973: Watergate Leaks Lead to Open Hearings". Senate Historical Office. Retrieved December 31, 2016.
  4. ^ The $100,000 Misunderstanding, Time, May 6, 1974
  5. ^ Senate Select Committee Final Report of the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities, by Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities, USA, 1974, pages III and VII. Retrieved June 4, 2018.
  6. ^ a b Ronald Garay, "Watergate", Museum of Broadcast Communications. Accessed June 30, 2007.

External links

1973 in the United States

Events from the year 1973 in the United States.

Herman Talmadge

Herman Eugene Talmadge (August 9, 1913 – March 21, 2002) was an American politician who served as a U.S. Senator from Georgia from 1957 to 1981. A staunch segregationist and a controversial figure, he was censured by the Senate for financial irregularities, which were revealed during a bitter divorce from his second wife. He previously served as governor of the state from 1948 to 1955, taking over after the death of his father Eugene Talmadge, the governor-elect. Talmadge was well known for his opposition to civil rights, ordering schools to be closed rather than desegregated.The younger Talmadge had been a write-in candidate and was one of three competitors serving briefly as the 70th Governor of Georgia before yielding to a court decision in favor of the elected lieutenant governor. Talmadge was elected as governor in a special election in 1948, and elected again to a full term in 1950, serving into 1955. After leaving office, Talmadge was elected in 1956 to the U.S. Senate, serving four terms from 1957 until 1981. He gained considerable power over the decades. He gained chairmanship by seniority of the powerful Senate Agriculture Committee.

After being censured by the Senate in 1979 for financial irregularities, Talmadge lost the 1980 general election to Republican Mack Mattingly.

Talmadge, who became governor as a political novice at just age 33, supported the passage of a statewide sales-tax and the construction of new schools. Talmadge supported infrastructure improvements and increased teachers' salaries. Although he believed in positive government, Talmadge remained deeply conservative. He lacked the knowledge and intelligence of some more experienced politicians and did not make great improvements to the state, often trying unsuccessfully to undo the reforms of his progressive predecessor. In the Senate, he dealt mainly with issues relating to farmers and rural Americans but did not have a particularly distinguished career. Talmadge drank heavily throughout his political career and suffered from numerous bouts of alcoholism. He remains a controversial figure in Georgia history, especially due to his opposition to civil rights, and although some Georgians praised him for his infrastructure improvements brought about by the passage of the sales tax, historians often rank him below-average governor and senator who championed antiquated policies and merely capitalized on political legacy and populist attitudes.

J. Fred Buzhardt

Joseph Fred Buzhardt, Jr (February 21, 1924 – December 16, 1978) was an American attorney and public servant. He is best known for serving as special White House Counsel to Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal. Previously he had served as General Counsel of the Department of Defense and as a legislative aide to Senator Strom Thurmond.

Jack Caulfield

John J. "Jack" Caulfield (March 12, 1929 - June 17, 2012) was an American security operative and law enforcement officer. He was a member of the Richard Nixon administration around the time of the Watergate Scandal, though he avoided prosecution.

Caulfield was born in The Bronx, New York City. He attended Wake Forest University on a basketball scholarship as well as Fordham University and the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. He served in the United States Army during the Korean War. From 1953 to 1968, he was an officer with the New York City Police Department (NYPD).In 1968, Caulfield left the NYPD and joined the Nixon administration as a security operative. He was involved in Operation Sandwedge with H. R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman, where he was tasked with setting up a clandestine intelligence-gathering operation against the political enemies of the Nixon administration. At one point, Caulfield suggested firebombing the Brookings Institution, a think tank critical of Nixon.In 1972, Caulfield was appointed as assistant director of criminal enforcement at the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). In 1973, while at the ATF, Caulfield was sent by the Nixon administration to offer clemency to Watergate Hotel burglar James W. McCord, Jr. in an attempt to prevent McCord from testifying against the administration. McCord was eventually sentenced to prison for his involvement in Watergate. Caulfield testified before the United States Senate Watergate Committee but avoided prosecution. Before testifying, he resigned from the ATF after serving only nine months.Caulfield's later career was as an executive at an aerosol valve plant in Yonkers, New York. The plant was owned by Robert Abplanalp, a close friend of Nixon's. Caulfield died in 2012 in Vero Beach, Florida, survived by his wife, two sons, and nine grandchildren.

Limited hangout

A limited hangout or partial hangout is, according to former special assistant to the Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency Victor Marchetti, "spy jargon for a favorite and frequently used gimmick of the clandestine professionals. When their veil of secrecy is shredded and they can no longer rely on a phony cover story to misinform the public, they resort to admitting—sometimes even volunteering—some of the truth while still managing to withhold the key and damaging facts in the case. The public, however, is usually so intrigued by the new information that it never thinks to pursue the matter further."

Oswald LeWinter

Oswald LeWinter (April 2, 1931 – February 13, 2013) was an Austrian-born American author and poet. He was best known for his role in the October Surprise controversy.

Patrick H. DeLeon

Patrick Henry (Pat) DeLeon (born January 6, 1943) is an American psychologist, former chief of staff for United States Senator Daniel Inouye and past president of the American Psychological Association (APA). He became an aide for Senator Inouye in 1973, when Inouye served on a committee investigating the Watergate scandal, and remained on the senator's staff for 38 years. After DeLeon's daughter survived meningitis in 1984, he was involved in the establishment of the Emergency Medical Services for Children program. DeLeon helped to create the nursing and pharmacy schools at the University of Hawaii at Hilo.

DeLeon retired in 2011 as Inouye's chief of staff. Upon DeLeon's retirement, Inouye credited him with working to improve education in Hawaii and with furthering public awareness of the importance of psychologists, nurses and other health providers. He has written nearly 175 peer-reviewed papers and has served as a faculty member at several U.S. universities. He received the APA Award for Lifetime Contributions to Psychology in 2009. An APA award in DeLeon's name honors a graduate student who contributes to the advancement of pharmacotherapy in psychology. He was elected to the Institute of Medicine in 2008. He has been named an Honorary Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing.

Stephen Leopold

Stephen Leopold (born November 15, 1951) is a Canadian real estate professional and entrepreneur.

Vincent de Roulet

Vincent William de Roulet (1925 – August 11, 1975) was an American businessman, politician, and statesman. He served as United States Ambassador to Jamaica from 1969 through 1973.

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