Summary of the Iran-Contra Scandal
| Watergate Criminal Conspiracy
President Gerald Ford
E. Howard Hunt
G. Gordon Liddy
Large Corporations paying
Bribes to Nixon for favors
Campaign to Re-Elect the
|Iran-Contra Criminal Conspiracy
Larger Lessons of Watergate that allowed
President Reagan and his men to escape
criminal prosecutions for Iran-Contra
1. Destroy the Evidence. Reagan's team
destroyed white house
e-mail and shredded documents linking them to criminal
2. Come up with a common "cover
story" that explains away
their lack of knowledge and involvement in the larger
criminal conspiracy: "The President didn't know."
3. Deny that the crimes they didn't
commit were crimes.
Argue that they weren't involved in a criminal
conspiracy, but admit that they committed some of
these crimes--which weren't in fact crimes but political
4. High-ranking Reagan Administration
officials claim that
they had no knowledge of what "those guys" were doing.
Claim to be "Out of the decision-making loop."
Iran-Contra Criminal Conspiracy
1. Illegally selling
military arms to the terrorist-state
Iran, which was supporting Islamic militants who
captured and held Americans hostage in Lebanon,
from 1981 to 1986.
2. Selling Hawk
missiles and military spare parts to
Iran in exchange for the release of American hostages
by Iranian-supported Islamic militants.
to Congress and the American people about
"trading arms for hostages" with Iran.
Selling missiles and military equipment through a
private company to Iran and using the profits from
these missiles sales to illegally fund a guerrilla
war in Central America.
Illegally using the CIA and Defense Department to
support the Nicaraguan Contras, which Congress
had banned from giving such support.
Lying to Congress and the American people about
illegally providing military aid and support to
the Nicaraguan Contras.
Working with Columbian Drug cartels to
illegally ship drugs into the United States and
using the profits to help fund the Contras'
military operations in Nicaragua.
8. A cover-up of the illegal activities of President
Reagan and his administration led by Reagan
and his National Security Council Staff.
9. Destroying government documents and
that would implicate Reagan and his top
Lying to Congress and the American People about
President Reagan and his advisers' role in the
larger Iran-Contra criminal conspiracy.
Reagan and his advisers committed perjury
about their knowledge of and involvement in
the larger criminal conspiracy during the
Iran-Contra criminal trials.
President Bush's December 1992 pardon of
Caspar Weinberger and other top Reagan
advisers in order to avoid the possible
criminal prosecution of Bush and Reagan
for their Iran-Contra crimes.
The Impact of Watergate on the
1. Reagan's top
advisers lied about President
Reagan's direct involvement in the Iran-Contra
criminal conspiracy, fearing that Reagan, like
Nixon, would be impeached and removed from
2. The legal
staff of the Congressional Iran-Contra
Special Investigating Committee admitted that
the Committee had enough evidence to impeach
President Reagan for his involvement in Iran-Contra
but decided not to in order to save the nation from
another failed Presidency so soon after Watergate.
Americans concluded that Reagan was
responsible for the larger Iran-Contra criminal
conspiracy, but, unlike Nixon, managed to
undermine the Congressional and Criminal
Investigation of these crimes
The link between Clinton-Lewinsky
scandals and the Iran-Contra scandal.
1. Republicans couldn't forgive the Democrats for
trying to undermine the Reagan Presidency
through the Iran-Contra Investigations.
2. Republicans believed that the Iran-Contra
Special Prosecutor's indictment of Caspar
Weinberger four days before the 1992
Presidential elections caused President Bush
to lose the election to Clinton.
3. From the first days of Clinton's
Republican leaders and operatives tried to
undermine President Clinton as payback for
what the Democrats did to the Reagan Presidency.
4. One of Clinton's first acts as President was to
ask the FBI to turn over its files on top Republican
leaders. Republicans worried that like Nixon,
Clinton was trying to use the power of the
government to screw his Republican enemies.
5. Unable to impeach Clinton for Campaign finance
abuses because the Republicans were equally
guilty, Congressional Republicans impeached
Clinton for lying about his affair with Monica
6. Just as Democrats referred to the
scandal as "Iran-Contragate," Republicans
referred to the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal as
*Copyright 2001 by Chris H. Lewis, Ph.D.
Sewall Academic Program; University of Colorado at Boulder
Created: 4 Dec. 2001: Last Modified: 5 Dec. 2001