Resources for Teachers and Students

Front Page Talking Points


U.S. Capitol attack hearings start this week, nearly 50 years after another Washington drama called Watergate


1.gifShare two facts from a preview of the new hearings or Watergate anniversary coverage.

2.gifWhat else in Congress or Washington, D.C., is making news?

3.gifFind coverage of a less-serious upcoming event and give your reaction.

It's a historical coincidence of the calendar: June 1972 was a turning-point month in our nation's capital while Richard Nixon was president. Just as America marks the 50th anniversary of that democracy-testing crisis, known as Watergate, a more recent showdown will be explored in eight televised U.S. House hearings due to start Thursday. Congress members and witnesses will talk about a Capitol siege on Jan. 6, 2021, two weeks before Donald Trump's presidency ended. Protesters who stormed the building delayed, but didn't stop, the certification of Joe Biden's election victory two months earlier.

A special House committee has spent 10 months looking into events of that scary day, including through videotaped testimony by former Trump aides and associates, as well as three family members who were subpoenaed (legally compelled) to testify. The panel and its staff spoke to nearly 1,000 witness, issued hundreds of subpoenas (including to five Republican congressmen), obtained thousands of phone records and text messages, and poured over White House records and other documents won in court battles. Now the public will hear some of what they found. The inquiry focuses on what Trump was doing as the riot unfolded, election fraud claims that motivated rioters, who organized and financing Jan. 6 rallies in Washington, and how law enforcement responded.

A half-century earlier, the constitutional crisis that forced Nixon to resign began on June 17, 1972 with a break-in by five men at Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate Office Building. At U.S. Senate hearings, televised in full by PBS, witnesses said Nixon had approved plans to cover up administration involvement in the break-in. Facing certain impeachment, the Republican president resigned on Aug. 8, 1974. The momentous events will be recalled this week and next in articles and broadcasts, including a four-hour CNN series titled "Watergate: Blueprint for a Scandal" that started Sunday. It's a month when the arc of history seems to meet itself.

Nixon aide says: "This history is highly relevant once again, and it is a risk to our democracy to ignore it." – John Dean, White House counsel during Watergate

House committee chair says: "We'll tell the story about what happened [Jan. 6, 2021]. We will use a combination of witnesses, exhibits, things that we have." – Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss.

Media columnist says: "The nation that came together to force a corrupt president from office and send many of his co-conspirator aides to prison is a nation that no longer exists." – Margaret Sullivan, The Washington Post

Front Page Talking Points is written by Alan Stamm for, Copyright 2023

Front Page Talking Points Archive

Common Core State Standard
SL.CCS.1/2/3/4 Grades 6-12: An essay of a current news event is provided for discussion to encourage participation, but also inspire the use of evidence to support logical claims using the main ideas of the article. Students must analyze background information provided about a current event within the news, draw out the main ideas and key details, and review different opinions on the issue. Then, students should present their own claims using facts and analysis for support.