A Burglary and A Cover-Up

The Watergate Investigation Committee

"The Majority Leader made me an offer I couldn't refuse."

“The Senate Majority Leader, Mike Mansfield, called me and said, ‘Herman, I would like for you to serve on the Watergate Committee.’ I said, ‘Mike, I am Chairman of the Agriculture Committee, Vice Chairman of the Finance Committee, Vice Chairman of the Veterans Committee, Vice Chairman of the Ethics Committee, I serve on the Democratic Policy Committee and several other committees as well. My responsibilities are already rather burdensome.’ Senator Mansfield replied: ‘Herman, will you serve on the Watergate Committee?’ In sum and substance, the Majority Leader made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. I could not ignore a responsibility of that magnitude... I went to the Committee as an impartial judge and juror. I have endeavored to maintain that position through every phase of the investigation, including the Watergate break-in and cover-up.”

Editor's Note: When the U.S. Senate created a bipartisan committee to investigate claims of illegal activity against the sitting president, Richard Nixon, Herman Talmadge was asked to be a committee member. The Senate investigating committee found that Richard Nixon had ordered a burglary of the Democratic Party’s campaign headquarters and then participated in efforts to cover-up his involvement in the crime.

As a result of the Senate investigation, Nixon resigned as president, the only time a U.S. president has done so. During the Senate investigation, Talmadge earned himself national recognition and praise for his skill in questioning the various witnesses called to testify. In just a few short years, Talmadge would find himself on the receiving end of a different Senate investigation.