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Watergate scandal is one of the major political crimes that happened in the United States in the 1970s, after a break-in to the Democratic National Committee main offices at Watergate office complex based in Washington.  This was followed by President Nixon regimes’ attempt to cover-up its participation. After the discovery of the conspiracy through investigations by the Congress, Nixon administration’s unwillingness to its probes resulted in a crisis in the constitutional. This scandal encompasses different clandestine and illegal activities that included dirty trick as bugging political opponents’ offices and people of whom Nixon was suspicious. Nixon and his aides ordered harassment of lobby groups as well as political figures using the FBI, the CIA, and the IRS (Anderson, 2007).

One of the greatest crimes in this scandal was the wiretapping of the Democratic Party’s main offices. The general counsel to the Committee for Nixon’s Re-Election came up with an intelligence campaign plan to committee’s Acting Chairman and the Attorney General as well as the Presidential Counsel, which encompassed extensive criminal activities against the Democrats. The plan was approved in a reduced version which includes burgling the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters to photograph campaign records as well as installing listening devices in the telephones. The cover-up is another white collar crime presented in this scandal. After burglars’ arrest, officials from FBI identified the name of CIA officer in the address books of burglars. Nixon’s elites became concerned since the burglars were involved in a separate secret called the White House Plumbers. It was set to stop security leakages and to spy other critical security issues. The third white collar crime in the water gate scandal is a money trail.  It came to be reported that among the Watergate burglars were a Republican Party security aide. Despite the fact that the Former Attorney General John Mitchell, who was heading Nixon’s re-election campaign, denied involvement in the crime, evidence came to prove (Olson, 2003). A $25,000 cashier’s check that was earmarked for Nixon’s re-election campaign was discovered in one of the Watergate burglars’ bank account. The investigation also revealed that the burglars had millions of dollars to facilitate their travel as well as expenses in the months that led to their arrests. Scrutiny of their money revealed a connection to the Nixon re-election campaign’s finance committee.  For instance, many donations amounting to $86,000 were made by people who thought they were privately donating through genuine and cashier’s checks for Nixon’s re-election. Scrutiny ‘ of bank documents of one company owned by one  Watergate burglar exposed an account controlled by him individually where he made a check deposit and then transferred the check through the  Reserve Check Clearing System. The financial institutions that had originated the checks remained keen to ensure all depository institution used by the burglar had acted legitimately in ensuring all checks had been received and approved by the check’s payee, before its acceptance for deposit in burglar’s account. This trick was to ensure that issuing banks escape liability for illegal as well as the improper release of money from their clients’ accounts. This was a fraud of the highest order.

The three crimes perfectly suit the definitions of white collar crimes. Wiretapping of information from the Democrat offices is an information breach.  Nixon’s team fraudulently planned to steal information from their election opponents.  White collar crimes are always committed with perpetrators attempting to make investigations difficult. Nixon’s administration complicated the investigation by destroying evidence. Nixon’s elites became concerned after knowing that the burglars were involved in a separate secret called the White House Plumbers. This separate secret was to make the investigations difficult (Olson, 2003).  This is one of the characteristics of white collar crimes where in many cases, perpetrators managed to go away with it. One of the other features in white collar crimes is Money trail. White collar crimes are always money motivated. In Watergate scandal, donations were made by people who thought they were privately donating through legitimate and cashier’s checks for Nixon’s campaign. But investigations on bank documents of one company that was owned by a Watergate burglar revealed an account that was controlled by the burglar himself. In the revelations, he had made a check deposit and then transferred it fraudulently through the Reserve Check Clearing System. This was to make the bank that originated the checks ensure that the depository institution used by the criminal had legitimately acted in ensuring all checks were received and approved by the check’s payee, before its allowing for deposit in criminal’s account(Olson, 2003). This is white collar crime from the fact that there is financial motivation. This was aimed at stealing at Bank clients while at the same time covering up the bank from facing the liability. It was fraud and hence amounts to white collar crime.  The fact that people committed the three crimes with trust involved falsehood and money motivation makes them white collar in nature.

Perpetrators of the Watergate scandal occupy a position of trust and respectability from the fact that the key perpetrators were the president. As people in power, they were entrusted with keeping the law. Unfortunately, they breached this trust and engaged in crimes that are immoral from the point of theirs status in the society.

The Nixon’s administration, the FBI, the CIA as well as the IRS were intuitions entrusted to keep constitutionality and the law, but they used their offices in an unethical way. Perpetrators in the Watergate scandal were blind to the risks they were facing in the process of committing the crimes.  If it were executed well in secret, it would have risked the spirit of democracy.  On the other hand, the crimes put the image as well as the entire Nixon’s administration at stake.  Hence, this scandal was full of risk from the fact that perpetrators were people with trust.

The harm in Watergate scandal was direct as well as indirect in nature. Direct in the sense that the Democratic Party lost their sensitive information that would propel their campaigns. The raids on the Democrat offices also had direct implication (Olson, 2003). It was indirect in nature in that people would lose money in their bank accounts but the bank would not be liable. In the end, the harm of the crime came to hound the perpetrators.

Democratic National headquarters motivated the Republican attacks from the fact that they posed a threat to the re-election of President Nixon. Burgling them would eliminate this threat. Therefore, the Democrats had something that the Republican wanted (Olson, 2003). On the other hand, the account owners in the banks provided ready money for the perpetrators to take using fraudulent means.  Therefore, they played a role of financial motivators to the perpetrators.


Anderson, D. (2007). Watergate: Scandal in the White House. Minneapolis, Minn: Compass         Point Books.

Olson, K. W. (2003). Watergate: the presidential scandal that shook America. Lawrence: Univ.    Press of Kansas



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