On June 17, 1972, Frank Wills, a Black security guard, was working the night shift at the Watergate office building in Washington D.C. when he called the police after discovering that a lock had been taped over to a room in the basement. When the police came they began checking darkened offices and would find five men on the sixth-floor headquarters of the Democratic National Committee.
One of the men captured in the burglary told prosecutors that President Nixon’s re-election committee was behind the break-in. Nixon, who would go on to win re-election that November, led the coverup by instructing the CIA to stop the FBI’s investigation. After it was revealed through White House tapes that Nixon was central in the coverup, the President resigned in 1974 rather than face impeachment and conviction.
Frank Wills would play himself in All The Presidents Men, the 1976 movie based on the Watergate scandal, but he struggled to make a living after the break-in at the Watergate office building. Wills, who died in 2000 at the age of 52, was given an award after the break-in by the Democratic National Committee, who acknowledged that he had played “a unique role in the history of the nation.”
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