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Government exhibit #1: Watergate building, photograph, ca. 1972

A photograph of the Watergate hotel and office complex was the first exhibit presented in the Senate investigation. A rapt national audience followed the Watergate story as it unfolded in televised hearings and other media. After the abuses of 1950s anti-communist investigations, the Watergate Committee’s unbiased research helped restore public confidence in congressional investigations.

Records of District Courts of the United States, National Archives and Records Administration

Government exhibit #1: Watergate building, photograph, ca. 1972

The Watergate Break-in

On June 17, 1972, police arrested burglars wiretapping the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C. Evidence linked the break-in to President Richard Nixon’s re-election committee, and the Justice Department appointed a special prosecutor for the case. In February 1973 the Senate established a select committee chaired by Senator Sam Ervin of North Carolina to investigate the 1972 presidential election campaigns. The investigation revealed audiotapes incriminating President Nixon, which eventually led to Nixon’s resignation. Nationally televised, the hearings of the Watergate Committee inquiry boosted public confidence in Congress.

It has been alleged that, following the Watergate break-in, there has been a massive attempt to cover up all the improper activities . . . which, if true, represent interference in the integrity of the prosecutorial and judicial processes of the Nation.

Senator Sam Ervin of South Carolina, Hearings before the Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities . . . , 1973