On June 17, 1972, police arrested burglars in 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 campaign. In February 1973 the Senate established a select committee chaired by Senator Sam Ervin of North Carolina to investigate the 1972 presidential election. The Senate investigation revealed the existence of audiotapes, the content of which proved incriminating to President Nixon, and ultimately led to his resignation. Nationally televised, the Watergate Committee hearings boosted public confidence in Congress.
This committee can serve another quite important function that neither a grand jury investigation nor a jury proceeding is equipped to serve, and that is to develop the facts in full view of all the people of America.
Senator Howard Baker of Tennessee, Hearings before the Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities, May 17, 1973