May 17, 1973: Televised Watergate Hearings Begin

Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities chairman delivers opening remarks.
12:39 | 05/13/13

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Transcript for May 17, 1973: Televised Watergate Hearings Begin
Now from our studios in Washington here's ABC news correspondent Frank Reynolds. Good morning at this hour a select committee of the United States senate is about to begin public hearings on something called Watergate. One year ago today Watergate was just an address -- rather fancy expensive address in this capital city. But now it has come to symbolize much more. The word crisis is perhaps too mild to apply to Watergate president Nixon's White House has been shaken indeed the entire executive branch of the government. Has been jolted by the continuing accusations. And revelations most of them -- must be kept in mind not yet ruled the seven man only seven men have been convicted for their part. We see you now as we see now senators. Sam -- who was the chairman of the affairs select committee and engaging in some -- there with the photographers who were clustered on the bottom senator. Will be the man wielding the gavel. These hearings and he is about to do that right now senator Durbin has called these hearings the most important investigation ever entrusted to the it is well known as perhaps the foremost authorities on the constitution of the United States senate. There goes the gavel in the Watergate hearings. Under way. I'm wrong. Today the select committee on presidential campaign -- this. Begins hearings into the extent. To which illegal and improper or unethical -- it is. Were involved in 1972 presidential elections -- campaign. Senate resolution sixty. Which establishes select committee. Was adopted unanimously by the senate on February 7 1973. On this provisions every member of the senate -- and given committing a broad mandate to investigate. As further follow. All the ramifications for the Watergate break in which -- on Sunday June 17 1970s. Our own terms -- they'll -- resolution in the committee must complete his studies. And -- report on a whole February 28 nineteen simple. -- -- -- -- -- Frankly considered judgment of the committee on whatever new legislation is needed to help safeguard the electoral process. Through which the president of the United States has -- We are beginning these hearings today and that was -- of his gratitude. These questions I have been raised in the wake of the June 17 break in strike could prevail on the -- about them. Give them any allegations made in this lady -- then the burglars who broke in the head while the Democratic National Committee that Watergate. Why don't affect -- and the home of criticism of the United States. And if these allegations prove to be true what -- it was taken this deal was not the jewelry and money -- But something much more brotherhood -- most precious heritage the right to -- in the reelection. Since Saturday -- and -- -- Don't you -- And it is a constitutional -- -- this committee to act expeditiously. To lay the -- really expressed by the citizens. And to establish a factual basis upon which these -- have been found. The first phase of the committee's investigation. And execution of the locker after the break in the Democratic National Committee has had bottled Watergate complex and the alleged cover up the problem. So afraid that faces -- focus on allegations of campaign. -- Bernard -- and allegations of extensive violations of campaign finance home. We recommended a unanimous senate resolution above all my heart of the investigation. Of everything -- a political espionage and illegal fund -- Thus it is clear that we have the full responsibility. To recommend any remedial legislation necessary. -- and the storm has passed it is clear that the minute we'll be dealing with the workings of the democratic -- -- process under which we operate. In a nation but that still as the last best hope for mankind. In his eternal struggle the gun -- himself basement and -- -- We will be concerned with the integrity of the gulf. Little system designed -- man. Who understood the lessons of the past and who accordingly and established a framework separated go a little polish. In order to prevent -- -- branch of the government from become the number of over they'll push. The founder and probably never participated. In the struggle against Robert -- -- Comprehend his army colonel truly respected man in government. They knew that those who are -- -- how susceptible to diseases. I'll tyrant -- George Washington like that described as a global power and promised to abuse. For that reason they realize that the power of public offices should be defined -- all of which they as well as the people obligated to a day. Hate groups enunciated by -- reading the when he says that whatever government is not a government -- Is -- -- -- -- that'd be called wanted me. Through the end of -- -- -- -- alone these men invited our constitution. The enduring principles and -- so firmly believed to establish -- new legislation to make phone calls. And executive prepare them. And a judicial system to interpret them. Reasonably have been -- the massive challenges to the historical framework created seventy -- album. With the most recent -- -- in the hopes upon assertions. The administration -- -- Top executive power of the congress for example and then someone appropriated phones and abuse of executive -- These challenges how -- Obama being built we about the workings of the system itself. That is through their night when a powerful such -- the congress and the rendering a decision by the courts uphold the law making power of the commerce. In dealing with the challenges posed about the multitude -- allegations arising out of the Watergate of staff Kyle. Usually committed hasn't -- much more -- complex. Then didn't include -- The government on the house of the others. In most probable start in two assertions that the very system itself has been subverted his foundation -- To safeguard destruction scream about government -- to the fountain bubbles provide -- bottleneck for process. Which elected officials this nation should be -- The constitution. Made an adopted amendments and more specifically. Statutory law. Provided that the electoral processes shall be conducted by the people. Outside the confines of the former branches -- And through a political process that must operate on the strictures of law and ethical guy. Both Democrat on the I'll be overwhelming power of the government's -- Only then can we be sure they need to make them truly reflects the will of the people. And that electoral process cannot be made conservatism. -- made -- made no particular administration talent. -- allegations that have been made in the wake of the Watergate -- thousand graduated. There has been a -- shares subversive of the integrity of the electoral process and the committee will be obliged to consider the -- In -- such as a personal thanks to continued existence of this nation as a representative democracy. And how -- we ought to disavow such diversions may be debated in the -- future. It has devastated -- 1972 campaign was influenced why Barack of their village alone and that's collective fears. Including the last widespread wiretapping of the telephone political hit while those on the eve of the residences of candidates and campaigns -- -- Panel members of the press by the publication of forged documents designed for -- certain candidates don't have those through fraudulent millions. The infiltration of disruptive little formal political organizations and together. The rating -- handling of campaign contributions through means designed to circumvent -- -- spirit. People visions of campaign disclosures. And live in the examples of campaign contributions based upon promises of illegal immigrants in -- processors on behalf of the contributors. Finally helps most disturbingly. It has been alleged that following the Watergate break you know there has been a massive appeal to fellow -- and probably active issues. There's been an -- so far to pay off potential witnesses and in particular. The seven defendants in the Watergate proud to -- without problems. Packages which if true represent him in the first and integrity of the prosecutor and judicial processes of the station. Moreover there has been -- -- the use of government. There's good -- mentality is an effort to exercise political surveillance all the candidates in the 1972. Campaign. Let me emphasize without that without judicial process thus far has convicted all of the seven persons accused of burglarizing. And -- -- the Democratic National Committee Headwaters of the Watergate complex on June 17. The areas which we initiated a day on mother's. -- to intensify -- reiterate unfounded accusations all the floors above the political climate of our nation. On the contrary. It is my conviction and then on the other committee members that accusations that have been available and the I was wrong doing better service. -- -- black cloud of distrust over on our society. How citizens do not know whom to believe and many of them have concluded that all the processes of government have become so compromise. -- honest government has been rendered impossible. We believe that can help if not just about -- social structure I'm about formal government. Requires the most candid in public investigation of all the help us from all accusations that have been -- -- that in a person's an affordable level. Who are engaged in 1972 campaign. My colleagues on the committee and are determined to uncover all the relevant -- -- of these matters. And a -- long holiday over -- station in life may be. And I opposed to accomplish that goal. At the same time almost emphasized. That the purpose of these carriers is not prosecute all divisional round investigative and and -- No one is more cars than the separation of powers issues that had trouble holding hearings. He committed fully aware of the on the ongoing grand jury proceedings -- -- taken place in several areas of the country. -- the fact that film and I must have been returned already about one of the grand juries alike all Americans. The members of this committee are vital interest in this the American judicial processes operate effectively -- -- And without an apparent from the you know the right for the job the investigation of the select committee it was moral crisis unabated -- of this very -- The crisis -- -- -- competence by American citizens. And integrity of our electoral process which is a bedrock of our democracy the American people are looking through this committed. As the representative bowling congress falling light and -- regarding the details of allegations that regardless of version. -- electoral and political process. As the elected representatives of the people we would be derelict -- -- -- didn't do they -- if we -- to pursue our mission. Expeditiously fully and without the -- fairness. The name of the committed to lab program -- -- -- -- -- and all over the nation can proceed toward healing the wounds and now make the -- probably. It is a name that we are together in pursuit today within the terms of the mandate imposed upon us -- Colleagues and broken glass blown out rules of law. The nation -- yourself watching us we can't bail -- mission.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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