James McCord, one of the many figures involved in the Watergate break-in and subsequent coverup. A former CIA agent, who also worked for the FBI, he was an electronics expert and became security coordinator for The Committee To Re-Elect The President. He was also in charge of setting up wiretaps and bugging devices at the Democratic National Committee Headquarters at the Watergate Apartment complex in Washington; the source of what became known as The Watergate Scandal.
When McCord and four other associates were arrested in connection with the break-in, he became the first of what eventually became a string of figures all engaged in the break-in and the first to serve jail time on eight counts of burglary, wiretapping and conspiracy. It was his letter to Judge Sirica that alerted investigators that he was pressured by White House counsel John Dean and Attorney General John Mitchell to perjure himself via his testimony and plea. The disclosure also implicated members of the Nixon White House in covering up the conspiracy that led to the break-in.
This interview, from the weekly Sunday program Face The Nation, features McCord discussing and answering questions regarding the break-in and the case surrounding it.
It’s interesting to draw comparisons to situations currently developing on Capitol Hill now and what were developing some 44 years ago. Watergate was the most divisive scandal to sweep the country, and the damage it did had far-reaching implications to our political system for decades after. It’s often been said that the country really never fully recovered from Watergate, that it case such a dark shadow on the White House and our political system that it created a wave of apathy and cynicism towards our political parties and elected officials. That the current scandal makes the actions and developments of Watergate pale by comparison says something over just how damaging this potentially is.
But this is a reminder that we had a scandal, it was huge and it was in uncharted territory and we had no idea how it was going to end.
And on June 3, 1973 we sat mesmerized as James McCord told his story.