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Final Days

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"The Final Days" by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein

"The Final Days" by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein is about former president Richard Nixon and his involvement in the Watergate scandal. The first part of the book deals with the first two years of the Watergate Crisis and the second half is about the final 17 days of the Nixon administration.

The first part of the book deals with how Nixon dug himself deeper and deeper in the scandal through lies and deception. There is tension to every decision Nixon makes in his final month in office. Whether to resign or stay in office, surrender his private tapes, or continue the legal battle. Nixon himself even becomes a sympathetic figure through his downfall.

Richard Nixon was elected president in 1968. Born into a small lemon farm in California Nixon lived on the edge of poverty. He graduated from Whittier College. After he graduated from Whittier he attended Duke University Law School and in 1937 he graduated with honors. Nixon then went on to join the navy. Nixon won his first campaign in 1946, and became a member of the House of Representatives. He represented California his home state. Nixon was also assigned to the House Un-American Activities Committee. This committee was mostly concerned with Communists in the United States. In 1950, Nixon was elected for a six-year term in the Senate. He only served 2 of these years, the remaining spent as Vice President to Eisenhower. In 1960, Eisenhower's second term was coming to an end. The Republicans chose Richard Nixon to be their presidential candidate, and the Democrats chose John F. Kennedy, Nixon barley lost the race. He once again he ran for President in 1968 and won.

The Watergate complex is located on the Potomac River in Washington, D.C. it contains many hotel rooms and offices. What happened in the complex on June 17, 1972 early in the morning was The Watergate Scandal. At approximately 2:30 in the morning of June 17, 1972 five men were arrested at the Watergate Complex. These five men and two co-plotters were indicated in September 1972 on charges of burglary, conspiracy and wire-tapping. Four months later they were convicted and sentenced to prison terms. The five men arrested were Bernard L. Barker, Frank A. Sturgis, Virgillio R. Gonzalez, Eugenio R. Martinez, and James W. McCord, Jr. The two co-plotters were G. Gordon Liddy and E. Howard Hunt. It became evident that the burglars were involved in the re-elect President Nixon campaign.

The senate established an investigative committee to look into the growing scandal. The White Houses involvement of that morning first became evident when James McCord wrote a letter to Judge Sirca. In this letter McCord explained that he wanted to disclose the details of the Watergate brake in. He also claimed that there had been whiteness at the trial that had committed perjury in order to protect the people who headed the brake in. James McCord spoke publicly; in his first meeting with representatives of this committee he named two more people that he claimed were involved in the burglary and cover-up. Theses two men were John Dean and Jeb Margruder. Margruder was the second in charge of the CRP and Dean was a White House aid. After hearing these substantial accusations the Senate Watergate Committee subpoenaed John Dean and Jeb Margruder. After the next session with James McCord he took the whiteness stand and explained how Liddy had promised him an executive pardon if he would plead guilty. Jeb Margruder was the next witness to testify. He admitted his own perjury to the Grand Jury and verified what McCord had said. While on the stand he also revealed another name to add to the list of those involved, John Mitchell. The next witness scheduled to appear was John Dean. In Dean's testimony he exposed that the Watergate burglary had been only a part of a greater abuse of power. He said that for four years the White House had used the powers of the presidency to attack political enemies. They spied on and harassed anyone who did not agree with Nixon's policies. If a reporter wrote stories criticizing the White House they would be singled out for tax investigations.

When Buchanan asked the President about the break-in Nixon didn't answer his questions and gave the reason of National security "The President wouldn't deal with the questions, but he insisted on one point: with the exception of the Ellsberg break-in, Howard Hunt and Gordon Liddy's work for the Plumbers had been undertaken for legitimate purposes of national security." (Woodward/Bernstein: 39)

The White House's version was that the president had rejected the burglars' blackmail. The committee then made a shocking discovery. As the committee was interviewing a routine aid, they asked him how the White House administration came up with their version of what happened in the meetings of Dena and Nixon. His response was that the meetings had probably been recorded on tape. Alexander Butterflied explained that the White House had been equipped with a recording system. In Alexander Butterfields testimony he said that the recording system was installed to help preserve all documents. These tapes would show which of these men were lying and if the president of the United States had been involved in a criminal conspiracy.

When the senate asked for the tapes the President refused on the grounds of executive



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