Watergate, Multiple Conspiracies, and the White House Tapes
26 Pages Posted: 2 Oct 2012 Last revised: 26 Feb 2013
Date Written: 2012
On January 1, 1975, John Mitchell, former United States Attorney General, John Ehrlichman, former Chief White House Assistant for Domestic Affairs, H.R. Haldeman, former White House Chief of Staff, and Robert Mardian, former Assistant Attorney General, were convicted of conspiracy for their involvement in what is generally known as "Watergate." The Watergate conspiracy trial, presided over by Judge John Sirica, had run from October 1, 1974 until December 27, 1974. The trial included the in-court testimony of most of the figures involved in the Watergate scandal, and the playing of thirty of the "White House tapes." The purpose of this Symposium article is to discuss whether the evidence presented at the Watergate trial is better understood as evidence of multiple conspiracies, as argued by two of the defendants, or as a single conspiracy as argued by the prosecution. The article first will set forth the law on multiple conspiracies and apply that law to the evidence presented at the Watergate conspiracy trial. The article will then discuss whether the admission into evidence of certain White House tapes premised on the single conspiracy view may have prejudiced any of the convicted defendants.
Keywords: Watergate, single conspiracy, multiple conspiracies, U.S. history, Richard Nixon, legal history, White House tapes, John Mitchell, H.R. Haldeman, Robert Mardian, Judge John Sirica, trials, evidence
JEL Classification: K14, K19, K39, K41, K42, K49
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation