June 20, 2007

The taped door that led to Nixon’s resignation is on loan to the Newseum.

The Taped Door That Led to Nixon’s Resignation

This week marks the 35th anniversary of the break-in at the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C. --- and the Newseum will exhibit the door that the five burglars taped to get inside.

The break-in, on June 17, 1972, wasn’t the first time five men broke into the Watergate complex at the Democratic National Committee headquarters. The men told police they broke in three weeks earlier, on May 28, to plant eavesdropping devices.

On their June return, they taped the latch of a stairwell door to keep it from locking. A security guard called police when he discovered the door re-taped after he had removed the first tape.

When police arrested the five men, it set in motion the Watergate cover-up that ultimately caused President Richard Nixon to resign two years later on August 9, 1974. Tireless reporting by Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, as well as others in the press, exposed wrongdoing and cover-ups at the highest levels of government.

The break-ins were traced to the Committee for the Re-Election of the President, a Nixon support group. Audiotapes made of White House meetings showed President Nixon tried to manipulate the investigations into the crime.

The door was seized as evidence by the FBI. Years later, it was returned to the Watergate complex. A former building engineer loaned it to the Newseum, where it will be exhibited as part of a News History Gallery display.

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