A major issue at the beginning of Nixon's second term became known as the Watergate scandal. Agents hired by the Committee for the Re-Election of the President broke into the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate apartment-office complex in Washington, D.C. on June 17, 1972. They had penetrated the files and installed listening devices. Early in 1973 the agents were convicted of burglary and political espionage. The Senate held hearings to investigate allegations of attempts by high White House officials to cover up administration involvement in the case. President Nixon repeatedly denied that anyone in his administration was involved in the break-in. However, several of Nixon's closest advisers did resign. When it was revealed that White House conversations and telephone calls had been recorded, Congress subpoenaed the tapes, but Nixon refused to release any of the White House recordings claiming "executive privilege." Meanwhile, the House Judiciary Committee began an inquiry into whether he had committed impeachable offenses. On April 30, 1974, Nixon released some edited transcripts of White House conversations that he felt would reassure the public of his innocence regarding the Watergate break-in and cover-up. Instead he lost many of his supporters.
The Supreme Court ruled that Nixon must surrender the additional White House tapes sought by the special Watergate prosecutor as evidence in criminal proceedings. Three of these recordings documented Nixon's personal order to cover up the Watergate break-in. With their release, Nixon admitted the evidence was "at variance" with earlier statements. The House Judiciary Committee had already voted in late July to recommend Nixon's impeachment. With Congressional support destroyed, Nixon chose resignation over impeachment. On Aug. 8, 1974, Nixon appeared on television to resign the presidency, and the next day Vice-President Ford became president.