Essential Chronology

The Watergate scandal was major political scandal occurring in the 1970s, following a break-in into the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington, DC.  Below are some of the key events:

June 17, 1972: Five burglars caught red-handed at DNC’s offices
September 15, 1972: Seven defendants indicted for Watergate break-in, including Nixon re-election committee people James McCord, Gordon Liddy and Howard Hunt.
January 30, 1973: All break-in defendants pleaded guilty or convicted after trial
February 7, 1973: Senate Select Committee (Ervin Committee) created by 77-0 vote
March 23, 1973: Watergate burglars sentenced by Judge Sirica to maximum prison terms; letter from defendant James McCord released, alleging a cover-up by Nixon officials.
April 30, 1973: Nixon officials H.R. “Bob” Haldeman, John Ehrlichman, John Dean and Richard Kleindienst resign.
May 25, 1973: Archibald Cox sworn in as Special Prosecutor
June 25, 1973: John Dean appeared as witness before the Ervin Committee, becoming Nixon’s principal accuser
July 16, 1973: Existence of White House taping system revealed by Alex Butterfield in appearance before the Ervin Committee
March 1, 1974: Grand jury indictments of Haldeman, Ehrlichman and Mitchell included as part of a comprehensive cover-up indictment.
July 24, 1974: Supreme Court rules 8-0 in US v Nixon that copies of subpoenaed tapes must be given to the Special Prosecutor.
July 27, 1974: First of three Articles of Impeachment against President Nixon adopted by the House Judiciary Committee
August 2, 1974: As a part of a plea bargain with the Special Prosecutor, John Dean sentenced to a 1-4 year prison term
August 5, 1974: White House releases transcript of tape of June 23, 1972 – soon known as “the smoking gun” – in which Nixon agreed with his staff’s recommendation to direct the CIA to instruct the FBI not to interview two key witnesses.
August 8, 1974: In an address to the nation, Nixon announced that he will resign the presidency the following day
September 8, 1974: Nixon granted a full and complete pardon by President Ford
October 1, 1974: Beginning of the cover-up trial, with John Dean as the government’s principal witness.
January 1, 1975: Mitchell, Haldeman and Ehrlichman convicted on all counts in the cover-up trial.
January 8, 1975: John Dean’s 1-4 year prison sentence for his participation in the cover-up reduced to “time served”, setting him free after only four months of technical confinement.


2013: Special Prosecutor Leon Jaworski’s confidential Watergate files surfaced at the National Archives, which contain details of a series of secret meetings that prosecutors had held with trial judge John Sirica, including agreement enabling him to name himself as trial judge. Archival documents also show prosecutor’s facilitated John Dean’s temporary sentencing to improve his witness credibility, kept exculpatory evidence from defense counsel, and made secret, but erroneous, allegations regarding Nixon’s own Watergate conduct.
2015: Associate Special Prosecutor James Vorenberg’s handwritten staff meeting notes surfaced at Harvard’s law library, confirming much of the same improper prosecutorial conduct.

For a more thorough timeline, visit the detailed chronology page. Also, learn more about who was involved in the Watergate Scandal.