The Watergate Seven has come to refer to two different groups of people, but both fall in the context of the Watergate scandal. First, it can refer to the five men caught June 17, 1972 burglarizing the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters in the Watergate Hotel, along with their two handlers, E. Howard Hunt and G. Gordon Liddy, who were Nixon campaign aides. All seven were tried before Judge John Sirica in January 1973.
The second use of Watergate Seven refers to seven advisors and aides of United States President Richard M. Nixon who were indicted by a grand jury on March 1, 1974 for their role in the Watergate scandal. The grand jury also named Nixon as an unindicted conspirator. The indictments marked the first time in U.S. history that a president was so named.
The period leading up to the trial of the first Watergate Seven began on January 8, 1973. The term "Watergate Seven" was coined a few months later, in April 1973, by American lawyer, politician, and political commentator Ed Koch, who, in response to U.S. Senator Lowell P. Weicker Jr.'s indicating that one of the men in Watergate bugging case had been ordered in the spring of 1972 to keep certain Senators and Representatives under surveillance, posted a sign on the door of his United States Congress office saying, 'These premises were surveilled by the Watergate Seven. Watch yourself'.
The seven advisors and aides later indicted in 1974 were:
- John N. Mitchell – former United States Attorney General and director of Nixon's 1968 and 1972 election campaigns; faced a maximum of 30 years in prison and $42,000 in fines; on February 21, 1975, Mitchell was found guilty of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and perjury and sentenced to two and a half to eight years in prison, which was later reduced to one to four years; Mitchell actually served 19 months.
- H. R. Haldeman – White House chief of staff, considered the second most powerful man in the government during Nixon's first term; faced a maximum of 25 years in prison and $16,000 in fines; in 1975, he was convicted of conspiracy and obstruction of justice and received an 18-month prison sentence.
- John Ehrlichman – former assistant to Nixon in charge of domestic affairs; faced a maximum of 25 years in prison and $40,000 in fines. Ehrlichman was convicted of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, perjury and other charges; he served 18 months in prison.
- Charles Colson – former White House counsel specializing in political affairs; plead nolo contendere on June 3, 1974 to one charge of obstruction of justice, having persuaded prosecution to change the charge from one of which he believed himself innocent to another of which he believed himself guilty, in order to testify freely; he was sentenced to 1 to 3 years of prison and fined $5,000; Colson served seven months.
- Gordon C. Strachan – White House aide to Haldeman; faced a maximum of 15 years in prison and $20,000 in fines. Charges against him were dropped before trial.
- Robert Mardian – aide to Mitchell and counsel to the Committee to Re-elect the President in 1972; faced 5 years in prison and $5,000 in fines. His conviction was overturned on appeal.
- Kenneth Parkinson – counsel for the Committee to Re-elect the President; faced 10 years in prison and $10,000 in fines. He was acquitted at trial. Although Parkinson was a lawyer, G. Gordon Liddy was in fact counsel for the Committee to Re-elect the President.
Nixon revealed much later that he would not grant amnesty to the Watergate Seven because, if he did so, Nixon would have been pressured to provide amnesty for Vietnam draft dodgers and this would have gratified his liberal elite opponents.
- Graham, Katharine (January 28, 1997). "The Watergate Watershed A Turning Point for a Nation and a Newspaper". The Washington Post.
- Merritt, Robert; Doug Caddy (2011). Watergate Exposed: How the President of the United States and the Watergate Burglars Were Set Up As Told to Douglas Caddy, Original Attorney for the Watergate Seven. Trine Day. p. 288. ISBN 193629611X.
- Graham, Katharine (January 28, 1997). "The Watergate watershed: a turning point for a nation and a newspaper". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 5, 2012.
- Madden, Richard L. (April 7, 1973). "Javits Picks a Campaign Team, Citing the Need to Think Ahead; Votes in Congress This Week's Tally for Metropolitan Area Senate House". The New York Times. p. 19. Retrieved July 5, 2012.
- "Sketches of the Seven Nixon Aides Indicted by the Watergate Grand Jury". The New York Times. March 2, 1974. p. 16. Retrieved July 5, 2012.
- Schwartz, Maryln (June 7, 1974). "Prayer for Colson". The Dallas Morning News. p. 8A.
- Cornwell, Rupert (July 24, 2006). "Robert Mardian - One of the 'Watergate Seven'". The Independent. London. p. 32. Retrieved July 5, 2012.
- Haley, Ken (June 14, 2008). "True confessions: Frost and Nixon". The Canberra Times.