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Today marks the 50th anniversary of a break-in at the Watergate Office Building in Washington, DC, an intrusion that sparked one of the most notorious political scandals in modern US history and led to the eventual resignation of President Richard Nixon. 

On June 17, 1972, five men were arrested attempting to infiltrate and bug the Democratic National Committee in the lead-up to that year’s presidential election (see visual timeline). Originally claiming to be anti-communists and freedom fighters, the men were eventually linked to the Nixon campaign.

The ensuing cover-up lasted for more than two years—during which Nixon won reelection by a landslide—until key witnesses and revelations that Nixon secretly recorded Oval Office conversations unraveled the plot. Listen to the “smoking gun” tape that led to him leaving office ahead of impeachment.

The saga included many twists and turns, including the purported kidnapping of Martha Mitchell and the reporting of Woodward and Bernstein.