A video of former president Donald Trump shown to the House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol (Image: AAP/Jabin Botsford/Pool/Sipa USA)

Fifty years ago this week, a security guard noticed a door taped open and rang the police. When they arrived, they discovered five burglars planting bugs inside the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee.

So began the Watergate scandal and the unravelling of the Nixon administration.

Popular memory recalls that as the facts came to light, Americans realised their president was a crook, and his Republican Party colleagues in Congress forced him to resign in disgrace. Laws were broken, justice was delivered, and the constitution prevailed.