Political scandals have rocked the world for decades, revealing sinister plots and illicit activities within the highest echelons of government. From the Watergate scandal that led to the downfall of President Nixon to the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, these scandals have captured the attention of the public and shaken the foundations of politics. Other scandals have involved sexual affairs, mishandling of classified information, and controversial operations gone awry. Regardless of the specifics, these 10 scandals serve as a reminder of the often-unseen forces at work behind the scenes of political power.
10 Scandals That Rocked the Political World
1. Watergate Scandal
The Watergate scandal of 1972 is perhaps the most infamous scandal in American political history. It began when the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters in the Watergate building were broken into by members of President Richard Nixon’s re-election campaign team. The subsequent investigation revealed that Nixon’s campaign had engaged in numerous illegal activities, including wiretapping the offices of political opponents.
2. Iran-Contra Scandal
The Iran-Contra scandal of the 1980s involved illicit arms sales to Iran in exchange for the release of American hostages and the funding of anti-communist rebels in Nicaragua. The scandal rocked the Reagan administration and led to the indictment of several high-ranking officials.
3. Lewinsky Affair
The Lewinsky affair of 1998 brought President Bill Clinton’s personal life into the public eye. It began when allegations surfaced that Clinton had engaged in a sexual relationship with a White House intern, Monica Lewinsky. Clinton initially denied the allegations, but later admitted to the affair, which led to his impeachment by the House of Representatives.
4. Valerie Plame Affair
The Valerie Plame affair of the early 2000s involved the leak of classified information by members of the George W. Bush administration. Plame, a former CIA operative, was publicly identified as such by conservative journalist Robert Novak. An investigation revealed that the leak had come from high-level officials within the administration, leading to the conviction of Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, Scooter Libby.
5. Benghazi Attack
The Benghazi attack of 2012 resulted in the deaths of four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya. In the aftermath, Republicans accused the Obama administration of mishandling the response to the attack and of engaging in a cover-up. Despite numerous investigations, no evidence of wrongdoing was found.
6. Russian Interference in U.S. Election
The Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election rocked the political world and led to the ongoing investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller. The investigation has revealed numerous contacts between members of the Trump campaign and Russian officials, as well as Russian efforts to sow discord and influence the outcome of the election.
7. Fast and Furious Scandal
The Fast and Furious scandal of the early 2010s involved the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) allowing the sale of thousands of guns to known traffickers in an effort to track the guns to Mexican drug cartels. However, the operation backfired when many of the guns turned up at crime scenes, resulting in the deaths of numerous people. The scandal led to the resignation of several high-ranking ATF officials.
8. Clinton Email Scandal
The Clinton email scandal of the 2016 election involved accusations that Hillary Clinton had mishandled classified information while serving as Secretary of State. Clinton used a private email server to conduct government business, which led to an investigation by the FBI. While the investigation found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing, it did damage Clinton’s presidential campaign.
9. Anthony Weiner Scandal
The Anthony Weiner scandal of 2011-2013 involved the former congressman and New York City mayoral candidate sending sexually explicit messages and photos to women over social media. The scandal eventually led to Weiner resigning from Congress, a failed run for mayor, and a prison sentence for sex crimes.
10. Petraeus Affair
The Petraeus affair of 2012 involved revelations that the then-director of the CIA, David Petraeus, had engaged in an extramarital affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell. The scandal led to Petraeus resigning from his position and pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge of mishandling classified information.