Watergate is the common name for the political scandal and constitutional crisis that began with the June 17, 1972, arrest of five burglars who broke into Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office building in Washington, D.C. The crisis ended on Aug. 9, 1974 when the 39th president, Richard M. Nixon resigned. The Watergate Scandal was an incident in American history that changed the role of the presidency in the United States. The situation began in early June of 1972, when burglars in Nixon's campaign committee broke into offices of the Democratic Party. In a complex chain of events, officials that were high within Nixon's staff were connected to the burglary and consequently used illegal and immoral means to keep the burglary from being fully investigated. It was these actions by Nixon's staff known as the "cover-up" and that exacerbated the situation. Nixon was distant often appearing ill at ease -he was always calculating his next move. That helped him at first, but finally led to his downfall.
Nixon had arranged for the covert tape-recording of many conversations in his office regarding the cover-up. Later, when Congress requested the tapes, Nixon refused to hand them over. After months of legal maneuvering, a beleaguered President Nixon released three tapes to the public on Aug. 5, 1974. And the one recorded on June 23, 1972 (six days after the Watergate break-in) revealed that he had taken steps to thwart the FBI's inquiry into the Watergate burglary. The tape made it clear that Nixon had been involved actively in the cover-up from its beginnings. At this time, the House of Representatives was one step away from voting for the impeachment of the president. Leaders of Congress told him that if he were impeached and tried, he would very likely be removed from office. That would have been the first time in the course of American history that a president was impeached.