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Gordon Liddy: How His Personal Ambition Led to Watergate


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GORDON LIDDY: HOW HIS PERSONAL AMBITION LED TO WATERGATE

         

BY

 

DOUGLAS CADDY

Original Attorney for the Watergate Seven

Member of the Texas and District of Columbia Bars

 

A Memoir

 

“When you take part in historical events you are speaking to history. You are telling it a story. History in turn is telling it in 10 and 50 years….”

Peggy Noonan in The Wall Street Journal, March 19-20, 2022

 

 

 

SUMMARY

 

The New York Times accurately portrays Gordon Liddy in its article of April 1, 2021, “G. Gordon Liddy, Watergate Scandal’s Remorseless Ringleader, Dies at 90.” The article declares, “G. Gordon Liddy, a cloak-and-dagger lawyer who masterminded dirty tricks for the White House and concocted the bungled burglary that led to the Watergate scandal and the resignation of President Richard M. Nixon in 1974, died on Tuesday in Mount Vernon, Va. He was 90….

 

“Decades after Watergate entered the lexicon, Mr. Liddy was still an enigma in the cast of characters who fell from grace with the 37th president – to some a patriot who went silently to prison refusing to betray his comrades, to others a zealot who cashed in on bogus celebrity to become an author and syndicated talk show host.”

 

In the interests of history, I recount here the Liddy that I came to know, who was a Hitler admirer, lawyer, ex-prosecutor, former FBI agent, White House “plumber,” burglar, convicted felon and con man. I subsequently became one of the victims of his ultimate con after first being awakened in the middle of the night in June 1972 by a phone call from Howard Hunt in the White House that within an hour led me to become an attorney in the biggest criminal case of the century.

 

In the early morning hours on June 17, 1972, the Metropolitan Washington District Police arrested five burglars inside the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in the Watergate Office Building. The five were James McCord, Bernard Baker, Frank Sturgis, Eugenio Martinez and Virgilio Gonzalez. Gordon Liddy, the ring leader, and Howard Hunt escaped as they were in a room in the adjacent Watergate Hotel when they were alerted to the arrests.

 

Hunt had been adamant against going into the DNC a second time after their partially successful entry on May 28.  Liddy in a 1996 sworn deposition quoted Hunt as saying, “My God, do you know how much trouble it took us to get in there in the first place? …And now this? With all the camera and all of this film and all this exposure, I mean, the longer you are in there the more vulnerable you are.” Liddy had rejected this common- sense assessment.

 

In preparation for the burglary McCord taped the latch on the doors in the garage that led to entry into the Watergate Office Building. Not long afterward he discovered the tape had been removed by someone.  Alarmed he returned to the hotel room where Liddy, Hunt and the four Cuban-Americas were waiting.

 

What happened next? Liddy in the 1996 deposition testified: “But in any event, we held a council of war, so to speak. And the Cubans, they said ‘Look, whatever the decision is, we are up to it’

“Question: Where was this council of war occurring?

“Answer: This was in that – the room that Mr. Hunt and I had been in, the one with all the equipment that Mr. McCord had. And McCord was for doing it. Hunt was very loath at first, but at any rate the decision was left up to me, because I was the operational chief. And I said, ‘Okay, we will go in again.’ And they went again. And the –they got in.”

 

McCord retaped the door a second time once the burglars got inside the building. While they proceeded with the burglary of the DNC, the building’s guard discovered the door had been taped again and called the police. That led to the arrests of the five burglars.

 

Liddy could have said, “No, we will not go in.” That would have been the wisest decision to make under the circumstances. Had he done so there would have been no Watergate scandal. But he did not. Why?

 

Because he had the hope and expectation of being appointed to a high position in the Treasury Department in the second Nixon Administration after the president was reelected. The burglary’s team first entry into the DNC over May 27-28 was only partially successful.  If the second burglary attempt on June 17 was a total failure because it had to be called off, then Liddy believed his chances of getting a high position appointment were doomed.

 

Watergate in a nutshell occurred solely because of the decision of one flawed man – Gordon Liddy – who was willing recklessly to gamble the presidency of the United States in pursuit of his personal ambition. Even if it failed, he had already formulated an ambitious Plan B in pursuit of fame and riches and that one did succeed beyond his wildest dreams.

 

But at what cost to others and to the nation?

 

Sixty nine persons were subsequently indicted and forty eight convicted, most of whom were never even aware before the scandal broke that the DNC had its headquarters inside the Watergate Office Building.  President Nixon was forced to resign. Vice President Agnew resigned in disgrace. The American people became disillusioned in their government. The fall out of the scandal was devastating in countless ways. The course of history was altered.

 

All because of one man’s disastrous decision that was motivated solely by his personal ambition.

 

 

 

MY ROLE IN WATERGATE IN THREE SEGMEMTS

 

UNITED STATES v. GEORGE GORDON LIDDY

United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

509 F.2d 428  [November 8, 1974]

Before: BAZELON, Chief Judge, WRIGHT, McGOWAN, LEVENTHAL, ROBINSON, MacKINNON, and WILKEY, Circuit Judges, sitting en banc.

LEVENTHAL, Circuit Judge.

Appellant Liddy seeks reversal of his conviction on charges relating to the burglary and wiretapping of the offices of the Democratic National Committee in the Watergate apartment-office building complex in the early morning hours of Saturday, June 17, 1972. Appellant was named in six counts of an eight count indictment returned against seven defendants1 on September 15, 1972. On January 8, 1973, jury selection began before then Chief Judge John J. Sirica of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Shortly after the trial commenced, five defendants changed their pleas to guilty. On January 30, 1973, the remaining defendants, appellant Liddy and James W. McCord, Jr., were found guilty by the jury. Appellant was convicted of conspiracy in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371 (count 1), burglary in violation of 22 D.C. Code § 1801( (counts 2 and 3), and unlawful endeavor to intercept oral and wire communications and interception of communications in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2511(1)(a) (counts 4, 5, and 8). * * *

* * *

IV. INSTRUCTION REGARDING RETAINING OF COUNSEL

On direct examination, attorney Michael Douglas Caddy testified as follows: At approximately 3:40 a.m. Saturday morning, June 17, 1972, Howard Hunt arrived at his apartment and arranged with him to secure counsel for the five men arrested in the Democratic National Committee’s offices an hour and a half earlier.

At about 4:45 a.m. Hunt called Liddy and both Hunt and Caddy explained to Liddy the steps that had been taken to retain an attorney for those men. During this conversation, Liddy indicated that he desired to have Caddy represent him in this matter.

Appellant assigns as error the trial judge’s instruction that the jury could draw no adverse inferences from the fact that Liddy retained counsel but could consider the time and other surrounding circumstances at which Mr. Liddy retained Mr. Caddy with respect to the state of mind of Mr. Liddy only. Appellant claims that allowing the jury to draw inferences of guilty knowledge from his efforts to obtain counsel imposes a penalty on the exercise of his Sixth Amendment rights. Liddy cites the Government’s emphasis in closing argument on the unusual hour at which he retained counsel as evidence of the prejudicial nature of the alleged error.

Appellant bases his Sixth Amendment claim on Griffin v. California, 380 U.S. 609 (1965). In that case the Court held that comment on the defendant’s failure to testify was forbidden by the Fifth Amendment, because it was tantamount to a penalty for exercising a constitutional right. Id. at 614-15. A number of courts, including this court, have extended the principle announced in Griffin to prohibit comment on the defendant’s failure to make an exculpatory statement upon arrest.

There is disagreement as to whether a defendant’s silence at the time of arrest can be used to impeach his testimony at trial. Compare United States v. Hale, 498 F.2d 1038 (D.C. Cir. 1974); Johnson v. Patterson, 475 F.2d 1066 (10th Cir.), cert. denied, 414 U.S. 878 (1973) with United States v. Ramirez, 441 F.2d 950 (5th Cir.), cert. denied, 404 U.S. 869 (1971). This disagreement appears to be grounded primarily on diverse conclusions reached in attempts to harmonize the Supreme Court’s decision in Harris v. New York, 401 U.S. 222 (1971), and Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966).

There is only scant law on the applicability of the penalty analysis employed in Griffin to the Sixth Amendment right to counsel. Some courts have found reversible error in circumstances in which the prosecutor has commented on the defendant’s silence and request for counsel upon arrest. Those cases, though containing language referring generally to the right to counsel, appear to be bottomed on considerations involving the rights of an accused facing police interrogation - a context in which the right to counsel is intimately bound up with the privilege against self-incrimination. They are thus of marginal value in ascertaining the applicability of Griffin to the Sixth Amendment claim raised in the present case.

In the present case, the trial judge instructed the jury that no adverse inferences could be drawn from the fact that appellant Liddy exercised his constitutional right to counsel. The trial judge, however, drew a distinction between the fact of hiring counsel and the time and circumstances under which an attorney was retained by the defendant.

Although it is the latter action of the trial judge that is contested on this appeal, we may usefully begin our discussion by approval of his instruction prohibiting the drawing of an adverse inference from the mere fact of hiring an attorney, at least when the circumstances are such that admission of evidence of such a request provokes the possibility that it will be taken as self-incriminatory. This prohibition of adverse inference from the fact of hiring an attorney seems to us to be a fair corollary to the Supreme Court’s opinion in Griffin. We should, perhaps, refer to our opinion in Jones v. United States, 111 U.S.App.D.C. 276, 296 F.2d 398 (en banc 1961), cert. denied, 370 U.S. 913 (1962), although it was not cited by parties. Insofar as Jones, which rejects a Sixth Amendment claim, uses the broad principle that the expression of a desire to have a lawyer never impinges on the right to have one, we think it is superseded by the reasoning of Griffin. * * *

In view of the peculiarities of the fact situation in Jones, we see no point in speculating on the result that would and should have ensued if it had been decided after Griffin. Certainly, the broadside rejection of the Sixth Amendment contention was not sound.

The trial judge erred, however, in limiting the application of the principle of Griffin with a ruling that apparently considered that it is generally proper to take into account the time and circumstances of retaining an attorney, and to draw whatever inferences as seem appropriate. Such a distinction generally raises problems that hobble the right to seek counsel. To the extent that an inference of criminality is operative, it invites probing of the very process of selection of counsel - who, why, when and where - and pressing the defendant to come forward with evidence concerning this process. The mischief of the approach is underlined by its semantic subtleties, which opens the door to maneuver and misunderstanding. It would be a rare case indeed where the prosecutor could not point out that the incriminating feature of the employment of counsel - in the absence of explanation - rests not in the employment as such but in the time and circumstances surrounding that event, and inferences therefrom that reflect adversely on the defendant.

The Third Circuit recently examined the application of Griffin to a Sixth Amendment contention in United States ex rel Macon v. Yeager, 476 F.2d 613 (3rd Cir.), cert. denied, 414 U.S. 855 (1973). In that case the prosecutor in his summation to the jury commented upon the fact that the defendant called an attorney the morning after the alleged crime and argued that this action cast doubt on the defendant’s claim that the shooting was an accident. Id. at 614. Although the defendant neither objected to the comment nor requested an instruction, the court held that there was plain error that required a reversal of the conviction. The court read Griffin as an absolute prohibition against the imposition of any penalty for the exercise of a constitutional right in a criminal law context. Id. at 615-16.

We agree with the Third Circuit’s analysis that the admission of a request for counsel raises Sixth Amendment problems under Griffin. We are not called upon in this case to determine whether the Third Circuit was correct in treating Griffin as a bar that is absolute - whether, for example, it would apply where the request for or retainer of counsel was part of the actions constituting the offense, sometimes called the res gestae, so that omission of the request or retainer would distort the underlying account of the witnesses or undercut the likelihood that it would be considered reasonable or natural.

In the present case, even if it be assumed that there was error in the admission of evidence, the prosecutor’s summation, or the instruction, or all of these, the error would be harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. In Macon, where the Third Circuit found reversible error, the prosecutor’s comment was directed at the credibility of the accused’s story which was a central issue in the case. 476 F.2d at 616. Here, the time at which Liddy retained counsel was but one of a number of factors that linked him to Hunt and the five defendants apprehended a couple of hours earlier. Moreover, the effect of the error was mitigated by the fact that evidence of part of Liddy’s 5:00 a.m. conversation with Caddy was clearly admissible to show Liddy’s involvement in his action of retaining counsel for those arrested during the break-in. His assertion of a right to Sixth Amendment protection against any use of his statements to obtain counsel for himself certainly does not prohibit inquiry into portions of his conversation with Caddy relating to his action in obtaining counsel for others. This evidence of Liddy’s efforts on behalf of the five defendants only a few hours after their arrest was probative of his involvement in their venture.

The evidence against the appellant, summarized at the outset of the opinion, was so overwhelming that even if there were constitutional error in the comment of the prosecutor and the instruction of the trial judge there is no reasonable possibility that it contributed to the conviction.

* * *

Affirmed.

***

This 1998 article by me in The Wall Street Journal puts in proper perspective the 1974 decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals decision in U.S. v. Liddy.

The Wall Street Journal

Editorial Page

March 24, 1998

WHAT IF JUDGE SIRICA WERE WITH US TODAY?

By Douglas Caddy

(Mr. Caddy is a Houston lawyer)

The Clinton scandals, with all the claims of coverup and executive privilege, are certainly reminiscent of Watergate. But there is a crucial difference: This case lacks a John Sirica, the chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia who played such a crucial role in Watergate. The untold historical record reveals that the early actions of Sirica, who assigned the Watergate case to himself, helped spur the subsequent coverup and obstruction of justice that ultimately led to the resignation of President Nixon and the criminal convictions of many Watergate figures.

The Watergate scandal began at 2:30 a.m. on June 17, 1972, when Washington, D.C. police arrested five men on burglary charges at the Watergate office building. At 3:05 a.m. E. Howard Hunt phoned me from his White House office and asked if he could come immediately to my Washington residence. I had been Hunt’s personal attorney for several years.

Hunt arrived half an hour later and informed me what had transpired earlier at the Watergate. He retained me to represent him in the case and then called G. Gordon Liddy, who also hired me. At that time, about two hours after the burglary, both Hunt and Liddy requested I also represent the five people arrested, four Cuban-Americans and James McCord, who were then incarcerated in the D.C. jail.

On June 28 – 11 days later – while working on the case in the federal courthouse in Washington, I was served with a subpoena bearing the name of Chief Judge Sirica, to appear “forthwith” before the federal grand jury investigating the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Donald Campbell grabbed me by the arm and pulled me into the grand jury room.

From June 28 until July19 I was to appear before the grand jury on six occasions and answer hundreds of questions. I drew the line, however, on the advice of my own legal counsel, at answering 38 questions we felt invaded my clients’ Sixth Amendment right to counsel and the attorney-client privilege. A typical question: “Between the hours of Friday at midnight, June 16, and 8:30 a.m. Saturday, June 17, did you receive a visit from Mr. Everett Howard Hunt?” We believed answering such questions would incriminate Hunt and Liddy, who had not been arrested, and would violate their constitutional rights.

Judge Sirica, rejecting such arguments out of hand, threatened to jail me for contempt of court. When I went before the grand jury on July 13, I refused to answer the 38 questions. Within an hour I was back before Judge Sirica, who immediately held me in contempt of court and ordered me to jail. Five days later, on July 18, the U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the contempt citation and ordered me to testify under threat of being jailed again. The opinion, which I found gratuitously insulting, declared: “Even if such a relationship does exist, certain communications, such as consultation in furtherance of a crime, are not within the privilege.”

In his July 19, 1972, Oval Office tape, Nixon is recorded as expressing dismay to John Ehrlichman: “Do you mean the circuit court ordered an attorney to testify?”

Ehrlichman replied, “It [unintelligible] me, except that this damn circuit that we’ve got here, with [Judge David] Bazelon and so on, it surprises me every time they do something.”

 Nixon then asked, “Why didn’t he appeal to the Supreme Court?”

The answer is that my attorneys and I believe we had built a strong enough court record that if Hunt, Liddy and the five arrested individuals were found guilty, their convictions could be overturned on appeal because of Sirica’s and the appeals court’s abuse of me as their attorney.

However, Judge Sirica’s actions had an unintended consequence. Hunt and Liddy, seeing their attorney falsely accused by Judge Sirica of being a participant in their crime, realized early on that they were not going to get a fair trial, so they embarked on a coverup involving “hush money.” As Hunt has written: “If Sirica was treating Caddy – an Officer of the Court – so summarily, and Caddy was completely uninvolved in Watergate – then those of us who were involved could expect neither fairness nor understanding from him. As events unfolded, this conclusion became tragically accurate.”

Liddy appealed his conviction to the U.S. Court of Appeals, claiming that my being forced to testify denied him his Sixth Amendment right to counsel. The court upheld his conviction: “The evidence against appellant...was so overwhelming that even if there were constitutional error in the comment of the prosecutor and the instruction of the trial judge, there is no reasonable possibility it contributed to the conviction.” Neither Judge Sirica nor the appeals court acknowledged that their assault on the attorney-client privilege helped spur the ensuing coverup and obstruction of justice.

I was never indicted, named an unindicted co-conspirator, disciplined by the Bar or even contacted by the Senate Watergate Committee or the House Judiciary Committee, whose staff included a young lawyer named Hillary Rodham.

Now the issue of the attorney-client privilege is again being raised, this time by Monica Lewinsky’s first lawyer, Francis D. Carter, who has been subpoenaed to appear before the grand jury and bring the notes he took while representing Ms. Lewinsky. Mr. Carter got involved when Vernon Jordan referred Ms. Lewinsky to him in January. On March 4, Mr. Carter’s attorney, Charles Ogletree, argued before Chief Judge Norma Hollaway Johnson that the subpoena should be quashed: “Once you start to allow the government to intrude on the attorney-client relationship and allow them to pierce the attorney-client privilege, clients will no longer have a sense of confidence and respect that lawyers should have.”

Coming days will reveal how Mr. Carter fares in his fight to protect Ms. Lewinsky’s constitutional rights and what effect this will have on the case’s ultimate outcome. To date, at least, Judge Johnson has shown a restraint that her predecessor Judge Sirica did not.

***

I was the first person approached to take “hush” money to distribute it to the seven defendants. This occurred in the first weeks of the case over the July 4th holiday in 1972. Here is the testimony of Herbert Kalmbach, Nixon’s personal attorney before the Senate Watergate Committee as he was being questioned by Samuel Dash, the committee’s Chief Counsel on July 16, 1973:

Mr. Dash: Now, what was the first instruction you received to give the money?

Mr. Kalmbach: Again, as I have tried to reconstruct this, Mr. Dash, the first instruction that I received, which I passed on to private detective Tony Ulasewicz was to have Mr. Ulasewicz give $25,000 to Mr. Caddy. I don’t know much of Mr. Caddy. I understand he is an attorney here in Washington, D.C. And as I recall it, this was from approximately July 6 or7. There were a number of calls. I would talk to Mr. [John] Dean or [Fred] LaRue [a presidential aide.] I would then call Mr. Ulasewicz, who in turn would call Mr. Caddy. He would have a response from Mr. Caddy and I would call back Mr. Dean or Mr. LaRue.

Mr. Dash. What was the response from Mr. Caddy?

Mr. Kalmbach. Well, the sum and gist of it was that Mr. Caddy would refuse to accept the funds.

Mr. Cash. In that manner?

Mr. Kalmbach: That is correct. The is the end-all. There were several phone calls, but the final wrap-up was that he refused to accept the funds.

***

 

 

CHRON0LOGY OF KEY EVENTS

 

1) When I was graduated from Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in 1960, I accepted a job offer to work for Governor Charles Edison who resided in the Towers of the Waldorf Astoria in New York. He was the former governor of New Jersey, Chairman of McGraw-Edison Company and son of Thomas Edison. With Governor Edison’s blessing I worked with William F. Buckley in founding the Conservative Movement that was non-existent in those days (and which has little in common with what passes as Conservatism today.) I organized the founding conference of Young Americans for Freedom that was held in September 1960 at the Buckley Family estate, “Great Elm,” in Sharon, Connecticut, and served as the organization’s first National Director. The highlight for my doing this occurred when Gore Vidal interviewed Senator Barry Goldwater in the June 9, 1962 LIFE magazine and Goldwater singled me out for special praise. That same month I joined the U.S. Army and served six months active duty at Ft. Jackson in South Carolina that then required me to serve seven and a half years in the national guard, after which I received an honorable discharge.

 

2) Not long after release from active duty, I enrolled in 1962 in the night division of New York University School of Law. I had a daytime job working for Lieutenant Governor Malcom Wilson of New York. His office occupied the fifth floor of Governor Nelson Rockefeller’s New York City office at 22 West 55th Street. It was a five-story townhouse owned by the governor. About forty persons worked in the building. Upon being graduated from law school in 1966 I accepted a position with General Foods Corporation, the world’s largest food manufacturer with products such as Maxwell House coffee, Post cereals, Birds-Eye vegetables and a host of others. In 1969 General Foods assigned me to be its Washington Representative but told me that for the first year in Washington I would be working out of the Robert Mullen Company that handled public relations for General Foods. It was several years later after Watergate broke that I first learned that the Central Intelligence Agency had incorporated the Mullen Company in 1959 and that General Foods was a CIA asset.

 

3) Howard Hunt joined the staff of the Mullen Company six months after I had begun working out of its office representing General Foods. In our first conversation we discovered that we had a mutual friend in William F. Buckley. Buckley as a CIA agent had served under Hunt in that organization’s Mexico City office. After two years he left and retuned to Connecticut where he wrote the best-selling book, God and Man at Yale, and subsequently founded National Review magazine. Howard and I became close friends and soon thereafter I met his wife, Dorothy, who also was a former CIA agent. She was a member of the Black Foot Tribe and was a dedicated patriot like her husband. One day while I was in the Mullen Company’s office, I received an unexpected phone call from Robert Mullen who told me that he was in Chile working with the U.S. government to overthrow Allende, that country’s duly elected president. I was so naïve in those days that when he told me this I responded, “I didn’t know we did things like that.”

 

4) In early 1971 I left General Foods and as an attorney joined the law firm of Gall, Lane, Powell and Kilcullen, which was a labor law firm. Jerome Powell, the managing partner, represented Armco Steel Corporation, partner John Kilcullen represented the National Right to Work Committee and partner Robert Scott represented the Mine Workers Union. Hunt became my first client and he visited the firm as a client three times on personal legal matters. On all these visits Robert Scott joined me in the legal consultation. In mid-1971 Charles Colson, Special Counsel to President Richard Nixon, asked Hunt to work for the White House as a part-time consultant. Hunt requested that I to write a letter of recommendation in his behalf to the White House and I obliged.

 

5) Two major events in my life occurred in April 1972. The first was when Hunt asked me to join him and Lawrence Houston, CIA Counsel, at a restaurant on the Maryland side of the Potomac River. He did not disclose the purpose of the meeting. Upon arrival I learned that it was to sound me out whether I wanted to work for the CIA. If I did, I would be assigned to move to Nicaragua to construct a luxurious hotel there on the seashore to lure the communist Sandinista leaders so that they could be compromised. I told Hunt and Houston that I would have to think about it although in my own mind I ruled it out because being a closeted gay I might not pass the vetting process.

 

The second April event was when John Kilcullen called me into his office and told me that he had received a phone call from George Webster, Chairman of the Lawyers Committee for the Reelection of the President. Webster asked him to find a volunteer lawyer who would work part-time for his committee. Kilcullen told me that I was being volunteered and to call Webster to get my assignment. When I called Webster, he informed me that I would be working for John Dean, White House Counsel. Dean’s White House diary shows that Webster and I met with him on April 25. My first assignment was to go to Capitol Hill and there in a clerk’s office hand copy the names of the top donors to the Democratic candidates for president and the amounts they contributed from the finance reports filed by the candidates. This turned out to be a laborious task. The last assignment that I received from Dean’s office that happened on the day before Watergate broke was go to syndicated columnist Jack Anderson’s office and ascertain if he would release any material that he had withheld from a recent column he had written about Democratic candidate Edmund Muskie. I visited the office and was told someone later would get back to me.

 

6) In early May Webster informed me that I would also be doing part-time volunteer work for Gordon Liddy, Counsel to the Finance Committee for the Reelection for the President. Thus, I found myself working part-time for both Dean and Liddy. Liddy assigned me to do research on state election laws that required candidates for president to file reports listing their donors.

 

I had met Gordon Liddy one time before. This was in January 1972 when a friend who had recently become engaged invited me to meet his fiancée at lunch in the White House Mess, which is where White House employees have their meals. Shortly after I arrived another guest, Liddy, appeared and my friend made introductions.  What I remember to this day is that Liddy dominated the entire conversation at lunch with his enthusiasm about Triumph of the Will, Lena Riefenstahl’s film about the poopoo Party’s rally in 1934. The film, which was widely acclaimed for its unique photography, had been commissioned by Hitler. Liddy waxed praise for every aspect of the film. I thought him to be a little crazy and exceedingly rude in using such a joyous occasion to talk endlessly about a poopoo propaganda film.

 

7) In mid-May Hunt invited me to have lunch with him and Liddy at a private dining club for members of the Intelligence Community that was located in the Georgetown section of Washington. Liddy dominated the occasion with endless talk about his expectation to receive a high position in the Department of the Treasury in the second Nixon Administration. On the surface this made sense to me as he was Counsel to the Finance Committee for the Reelection of the President, was a former FBI agent and at one time had worked in the Treasury Department.  His non-stop discourse was interrupted by a man entering the dining room who was seated at a nearby table. Hunt then suddenly exclaimed, “There’s that son-of-a-bitch Cord Meyer.” Meyer was a senior CIA official whose ex-wife was a mistress to President John Kennedy and who was murdered not long after JFK’s assassination because she knew too much. Soon thereafter, Liddy excused himself to use the restroom and while he was away Hunt asked me if I had reached a decision about joining the CIA. I responded that I was still thinking about it. Then out of nowhere Hunt exclaimed, “Ellsberg is not a traitor. He is just misinformed and misled.” I only knew Daniel Ellsberg from the newspapers as a controversial figure in the Pentagon Papers disclosure. At that point Liddy returned and again picked up where he had left off talking about his expectation of a high Administration position when Nixon was reelected.

 

😎In late May Liddy called me into his office and said that a major donor from Florida to the Finance Committee had requested him to refer a lawyer for a real estate matter he had in the District of Columbia. He said he had given my name to the donor and to expect a phone call from him. The donor subsequently called me and outlined the legal matter. Because the Memorial Day holiday was a short time away, I inquired if could visit with him then in Florida about the matter. He readily agreed and I flew to Florida over the holiday and met with the donor and his wife in Delrey Beach. I told him I would prepare a report on the real estate issue and present it to Kilcullen when I returned to Washington. I then spent two days on the beach in Fort Lauderdale before flying back to the nation’s capital. After Watergate broke I learned that on May 28, while I was in Florida, the Watergate burglary team headed by Liddy made its first entry into the office of the Democratic National Committee in the Watergate Office Building. The burglary was only partially successful and soon thereafter a decision of made to make a second entry on June 17.

 

9) On June 17 I was awakened at 3:05 A.M. by a phone call from Hunt who said he was calling from his White House office. He said he was calling about an important matter and asked if he could visit me immediately. I told him to come ahead and that I would alert the desk clerk downstairs of his imminent arrival. I lived in an apartment house about a mile from the White House and as it turned out the same distance from the Watergate complex. Hunt arrived around 3:35 A.M. and related to me what had happened at Watergate. Five burglars had been arrested inside the DNC. He and Liddy had escaped because they were in a room in the adjacent Watergate Hotel and had been alerted by former FBI agent Alfred Baldwin whom McCord had stationed across the street in the Howard Johnson Hotel. I quickly realized that this event posed a dire threat to the survival of President Nixon’s Administration although I do not think that Hunt at the time fully recognized it as such. I explained to him that our law firm specialized in labor law and was not a criminal defense firm and that I had to call a partner in the firm to get guidance. Only Robert Scott, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney, was in town. Jerome Powell was on the eastern shore of Maryland and John Kilcullen and his wife were vacationing in Italy. Scott knew Hunt as a client of the firm. When I telephoned Scott he said, “They must have been set up.” He told me to sit tight while he called a criminal defense lawyer to assist me in representing the defendants and also called his nephew whom I did not know. Scott called back about twenty minutes later and said that Joseph Rafferty, a criminal defense attorney, would assist me and indicated where I should meet him in a couple of hours. Scott added that he had also spoken to his nephew.

 

After I informed Hunt what Scott has said, he told me that in addition to representing him he wanted me also to represent the five arrested burglars. He then used my telephone to call Liddy who also asked me to represent him and the five arrested burglars. Hunt then departed around 5 A.M. to go home.

 

The intent of moving fast on this was to get the five arrested burglars released as quickly as possible to avoid publicity surrounding the event. It was an extremely long shot but deemed worth the effort in light of what was at stake, which was the survival of the Administration of President Nixon.

 

10) Later that morning Rafferty and I visited the five arrested burglars in a police precinct and then proceeded to the arraignment in court where bail was denied to the arrested. The next day I conferred with McCord in the District of Columbia jail. He requested that I visit his wife at their Maryland home, which I did the following day.

 

11) John Kilcullen returned from Italy a few days after Watergate broke. He asked me to explain the case to him. Afterward he shook his head and sadly exclaimed, “The Republicans have really done it to themselves this time.”

 

12) At Liddy’s request I met with him in the office of the law firm on Saturday, June 24, a week after the arrests. Upon arrival he immediately gave me a one dollar bill to cement the attorney-client relationship. I then said to him, “Gordon, who dreamed up this thing. It boggles the mind. It is mind boggling.” He looked me in the eye and proudly replied “I did.” Then he switched his eyes to look out my office window that was above Connecticut Avenue not far from the White House, and exclaimed, “This is the biggest criminal case of the century.” What struck me about his utterances was no showing of remorse. Quite the opposite. He was jubilant and exhilarated and on an emotional happy high. His eyes glistened as if in anticipation of something only he knew. With that he got ready to depart, asking if there was a rear entrance to the office building that he could use. He got on the elevator and waved goodbye. Both he and Hunt remained free until they were indicted in September along with the five arrested burglars The next time I would see Liddy would be at the trial of the seven defendants in January 1973.

 

13) On June 28, four days after Liddy’s visit, when I was in the federal courthouse working on the case I was served with a subpoena signed by Chief Judge John Sirica to appear before the federal grand jury empaneled to investigate Watergate. Donald Campbell, an Assistant U.S. Attorney, who served the subpoena then grabbed me by my arm and pulled into the grand jury room. Earl Silbert, principal Assistant U.S. Attorney, administered the oath to me and then I was excused to confer with the attorneys at my law firm. I was ultimately to appear before the grand jury six times and have my bank records subpoenaed.

 

14) On June 29 I learned for the firs time that Robert Scott’s nephew whom he called while Hunt was in my apartment was an Assistant U.S. Attorney. My new attorney, Urban Lester, who was a relative of Jerome Powell, concluded that Scott had been providing information about the case to his nephew and to the Democratic leadership since my phone call to him on June 17. Scott was a Democrat and a union lawyer who represented the Mine Workers Union. Lester believed that the grand jury problems I was experiencing stemmed from information about the case that Scott was providing to outside sources and that he might even have been embellishing the information to make himself look good. Lester and I started to make certain Scott was not privy to what we were doing to protect the interests of the seven defendants. Once I became a witness before the grand jury I could no longer represent them. When new attorneys came on board to represent the defendants, Lester advised them of the double role being played by Scott.

 

15) On July1 the Washington Post carried a front-page article by Bob Woodward, “Bugging Suspects’ Lawyer Is Quizzed by Jury.” The article stated that prosecutor Silbert in court “told Sirica that Caddy’s conduct was ‘specious, dilatory and …an obstruction of justice,” which is a crime. I wondered if he was setting me up to frame me. My fear that this was in the works came in about two weeks later when Judge Sirica also leveled a false charge against me.  

 

16) As recounted previously I was approached with the “hush” money for the defendants over the July 4th holiday. I still remember the sound advice Jerome Powell gave me. He said that if I were ever to accept money from the source offering it, which Powell and I concluded was from the criminal conspiracy, I would then be under the total control of the conspirators and be forced to do their bidding. I would no longer be a free man. I bore this in mind when the mysterious caller telephoned for the last time. I was emphatic in refusing to accept the money, saying I did not want to get involved in any way. As I got ready to hang up, I heard the caller gasp at the intensity of my rejection.

 

17) On July 12 in a court hearing Chief Judge John Sirica falsely declared that I was a principal in the break-in at the DNC and if I did not answer all the questions before the grand jury he would hold me in contempt of court and jail me. That night at the law firm the attorneys concluded that I could not answer 38 questions that were protected by the attorney-client privilege. The next day, on July 13, I refused to answer the disputed 38 questions before the grand jury and Judge Sirica held me in contempt and jailed me. The U.S. Court of Appeals ordered my release pending a hearing before it on the merits. After that hearing the Appeals Court on July 18 upheld Judge Sirica’s contempt citation and ordered me to testify before the grand jury under pain of imprisonment if I failed to do so. The headline in The New York Times the next day was “Lawyer Held in Contempt in Democratic Raid Inquiry.”

 

18) My team of attorneys decided that I should answer the disputed questions before the grand jury on July 19 because we had built a strong enough case of abuse of me as the defendants’ attorney by Sirica and the Court of Appeals that if the seven defendants were convicted their conviction could be overturned on appeal. As I prepared to go before the grand jury, unbeknownst to me President Nixon and his close aide John Ehrlichman, were discussing me in the White House. Here is their verbatim conversation from the Oval Office Tapes:

 

Ehrlichman: That fellow Caddy, the lawyer who wouldn’t answer questions because it was privileged communications, refused to answer, the Judge cited him for contempt. He appealed it to the local Court of Appeals. They affirmed the trial judge and he’s now down there answering questions as far as I know.

President Nixon: That’s probably what’s breaking it up.

Ehrlichman: It could well be.

President Nixon: Who is Caddy the lawyer for?

Ehrlichman: Caddy is a 37-year-old lawyer who was very active in the YAFs, the very conservative Young Americans for Freedom.

President Nixon: Who does he represent?

Ehrlichman: He represented the five guys who got caught the night they were caught, and he was at the police station within minutes after the police brought the prisoners there. He’s obviously been called by someone from the outside. Well, I think what had happened is that Hunt was in the neighborhood and when he saw those guys get caught or heard it over the bug, he called Caddy and Caddy went down and tried to arrange bail and advised them not to talk ad so forth. So he’s been asked by the grand jury who called you? And he refused to answer.

President Nixon: That would bring Hunt into it….

Ehrlichman: It would bring Hunt in, it would bring Liddy in. And this guy has an indirect connection to Colson because he is the attorney for Colson’s secretary who is n the process of getting a divorce. But that is as close as it gets to the White House.

President Nixon: Well, I don’t think that a problem.

Ehrlichman: No that’s not a problem. That’s sort of a tangential thing. But he will not, Caddy will not disclose much beyond what was already going to be disclosed. So it isn’t going to add much to the trouble…

President Nixon: Do you mean the Circuit Court ordered the attorney to testify?

Ehrlichman: It [unintelligible] me, except that this damn Circuit that we’ve got here, with Bazelon and so on, it surprises me every time they do something.

President Nixon: Why didn’t he appeal to the Supreme Court?

Ehrlichman: Well, he could I suppose. They don’t have to grant certiorari. I don’t know. I don’t know the answer to that.

President Nixon: But he’s now testifying?

Ehrlichman: My understanding is that he is going in this morning. Now, he may go down there and refuse and take it to the Supreme Court. I don’t know. I just don’t have those facts.

 

What is crucially missing in this discussion between President Nixon and Ehrlichman is that since April 25 I had be working part-time as a volunteer lawyer for the Lawyers Committee for the Reelection of the President under the direction of John Dean, whose office was close to the Oval Office. Furthermore, since early May Webster had assigned me a volunteer lawyer to work part time for Liddy at the Finance Committee.  Had Dean, who was the mastermind of the newly emerging coverup, informed Ehrlichman or President Nixon and Ehrlichman of my close ties to the White House, they would have likely concluded that any coverup would ultimately fail. Thus, the coverup might have ended right there.

 

19) While the Oval Office discussion was underway, I was appearing before the grand jury. I answered all questions posed to me and then there was a lull in the proceedings. I decided to put on the grand jury record the mysterious phone calls I had received that sought me out to be a conduit of “hush” money to all the defendants and their families. I declared to the grand jury that “I received these mysterious phones from someone…. ” That was a far as I got because suddenly Seymour Glanzer, one of the prosecutors, cut me off and switched back to asking me more questions. It was obvious that the prosecutors did not want to hear what I had to say about the mysterious phone calls. Who was behind this scheme to prevent me from testifying? The answer can be found in the Oval Office tapes. On July 14 there was this exchange about Henry Petersen, Assistant Attorney General from the Criminal Division in the Justice Department, and U.S. Attorney General Richard Kleindienst:

President Nixon: What is the situation on Peterson, Kleindienst and the rest?

Ehrlichman: Petersen, pretty good. Kleindienst is one step removed from it. Petersen’s always been very good with Dean in trying to help evaluate the thing as it goes along and in keeping Dean informed of the direction that things are going.

President Nixon: What the U.S. Attorney is up to, and so forth?

Ehrlichman: Yes. And he’s managed to keep a hold of the U.S. Attorney better. It is a better situation than it was.

 

Had the prosecutors on July 19 allowed me to speak about the mysterious phone “hush” money phone calls I had received, the coverup that was its infancy would have ended. So twice on the same day history could have turned out differently because of my role in the case.

 

20) A few days later Scott asked me to join him for lunch. We had barely sat down in the restaurant when his nephew joined us. I was startled by this development. They began to ask me questions as if I were before the grand jury. I uttered a few meaningless grunts now and then but never replied, fearing anything I might say could adversely affect the rights of the seven defendants.  Not long thereafter in open court Silbert threatened to subpoena Scott before the grand jury. My guess is that he had figured out the nefarious scheme Scott was engaged in to bring down President Nixon.

 

21) In August famed attorney Edward Bennett Williams took my sworn deposition in a lawsuit that the Democratic National Committee had filed against named persons connected to Watergate. The day before the deposition Scott had returned to our law office in the late afternoon and announced that he had just come from meeting with Williams. Urban Lester and I read into Scott’s surprising declaration that he had met with Williams to make certain that any questions Williams might ask me would not reveal Scott’s double agent role.  In any event the deposition was uneventful with the exception of what occurred just before I started my testimony. I had arrived half an hour early at William’s building and proceeded to the law firm’s reception area. I did this to escape being cornered by the reporters that later gathered on the street outside. When the time came for my deposition, I got on the elevator and went up Williams’s floor. As I got off the elevator, I found CBS reporter Leslie Stahl talking to Williams’s secretary who was seated at her desk in front of Leslie. Then secretary saw me and suddenly stood up and shouted, “You have no right to be on this floor. Leave immediately!” Leslie then informed her that I was the witness. This flustered the secretary who then showed me into the conference room where ten persons were gathered, including Williams and Urban Lester and his law partner, Joseph Contrucci. The amazing thing about this is that Leslie Stahl, who today appears regularly on CBS 60 Minutes, looks as young as she did in 1972 and her voice is just the same. What an amazing career she has had over the past 50 years.

 

22) That same month Liddy sent me a hand written letter dated August 24, 1972, in which he wrote, “I understand, however, that you have answered some questions before a federal grand jury in a manner which, I believe, quite frankly, disregarded your obligation to me as my attorney.” I was grievously offended by Liddy’s gross ungratefulness. In my effort to protect the attorney-client privilege of all the defendants I was held in contempt of court by Judge Sirica and jailed. This had occurred six weeks before Liddy wrote me his letter. Neither he nor his attorney had made any effort to support me or clarify our relationship while I waged the battle against being held in contempt of court. In contrast Hunt at that time had provided me a letter that I read to the grand jury that affirmed our long-standing attorney-client relationship.

 

23) In September attorney William Bittman who succeeded me in representing Hunt after I had to withdraw requested that I and Lester and Contrucci visit him.  Bittman was a famed former Justice Department prosecutor and was now with a major law firm. He told me that I would be a key witness at trial of the seven defendants scheduled for January 1973. He said that I soon would be called to visit the U.S. Attorney’s office to review my grand jury testimony that spanned five appearances. He declared, “Doug, when you review your testimony check carefully to make sure that no alterations have been made in it.” Upon hearing this, Lester, Contrucci and I nearly fell out of our chairs. The idea that prosecutors can alter grand jury testimony shocked us to our cores. I then casually remarked that I had received mysterious phone calls from someone. Bittman upon hearing this became agitated and asked for more information but for some reason Lester would not let me talk further

 

24) In December Dorothy Hunt was killed in a plane crash in Dallas. I have always felt that this happened because Hunt threatened Colson and the White House in a phone call he made to Colson in November after Nixon was reelected. Hunt demanded “hush” money be paid to the families of the seven defendants if the defendants were convicted at the pending trial in January -- or else the coverup would be exposed. The dramatic phone call can be listened to on YouTube by typing in Howard Hunt’s phone call to Charles Colson in November 1972.

 

I attended Dorothy’s funeral at a Catholic church. In the parking lot Hunt walked over crying with his eyes all red and embraced me. Then I started crying while trying to console him. FBI agents took photographs of this. I attended the interment on a hill top at a nearby cemetery. It was a scene I shall never forget. As the priest administered rites the entire sky was filed with dark and ominous clouds. Lightning was continuously striking nearby and far away. Yet no rain was falling. It was something one would expect see in a horror movie.

 

25) At the beginning of the defendants’ Watergate trial in January Hunt pled guilty and the four Cuban-Americans followed his lead. I was later told that attorney Bittman persuaded Hunt to do so and that Bittman was so motivated because he had accepted the “hush” money that I had turned down. Ulasewizc left it in a phone book in phone booth in the lobby where Bittman’s law firm had its office and Bittman came down and retrieved it. He was subsequently named an unindicted co-conspirator in the cover-up conspiracy.

 

Just before the trial of Liddy and McCord started, McCord sought me out and expressed his sincere appreciation for the legal work I had done for him and all the defendants. I was moved by what he said. While I was on the witness stand, being a voluntary witness for the defendants and an involuntary one for the prosecution, Silbert asked about Liddy’s visit to me in the law firm a week after the case broke when he paid me one dollar to cement the attorney-client relationship. He asked if it was my common practice to accept one dollar under such circumstances. I responded that none of the partners were in the office on that Saturday so there was no one with whom to confer. The jury soon retired to consider the verdict. Liddy and I had a brief lunch together. Upon our return it was announced that the jury had reached a verdict.  Liddy and McCord were found guilty and led away.

 

26) In March 1973 McCord wrote Judge Sirica a letter exposing the coverup and the payment of “hush” money. My belief is that he did so because he knew such exposure was imminent by someone as phone calls among defendant parties to the scandal had been wire-tapped. I always assumed my phone was wire-tapped.

 

27) Around June I appeared for the final time before the grand jury. The prosecutors – Silbert, Glanzer and Campbell – met with me in Silbert’s office before I entered the grand jury room. Glanzer recalled that in my July 19th testimony I had referred to mysterious phone calls from someone.  I pointed to him and declared, “And you cut my testimony off.” There was complete silence as the implications of what was said set in. I then spoke up and declared, “but it could have been from anyone. It could even had been from a reporter from the Washington Post. Had I taken that money, then everything you have been saying about me all this time would be true.” With that I went into the grand jury room and testified about being offered the “hush” money on phone calls from someone whose identity was still unknown to me.

 

28) I was never indicted, named an unindicted co-conspirator, sued by the Democratic National Committee, or disciplined by the Bar. The efforts of Prosecutor Silbert and Chief Judge Sirica to frame me in Watergate came to naught as they failed to produce any evidence to back up their false public charges that I had engaged in obstruction of justice and was a principal in the break-in. On April 18, 1978, I received a letter from the U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation in response to a freedom of information request that I had filed that stated, “A thorough search of our central indices revealed that you have never been the subject of an investigation by this Bureau.”

 

29) In 1975 Hunt called and invited me to dinner. He said he wanted to show appreciation for what I had done as he was about to enter prison to serve his sentence. We had not seen each other since Dorothy’s funeral. We dined at Yenching Palace, a well-known Chinese restaurant in Washington where the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 was settled by an agreement reached there over dinner by the American and Russian representatives.

 

I asked Hunt at dinner what was the reason the burglars went into the DNC in the first place. He was evasive in answering. I persisted and finally he said slowly and reluctantly, “Well, there was such a reason.  We believed there were important Cuban Government documents inside the DNC dealing with the Kennedy assassination.” It took me a moment to absorb this startling revelation and then I asked, “Cuban Government documents dealing with the Kennedy assassination. What did the documents contain?” At this point Hunt raised his hands with their palms facing me and waved them from side to side. It was his way to end our conversation about Watergate.  Wikipedia’s entry on Watergate states that John H. Meier, an advisor to Howard Hughes, told Nixon’s brother, Donald, in 1971 that he was sure the Democrats would win the election because they had considerable information on Richard Nixon’s illicit dealings with Hughes that had never been released, and that it resided with DNC Chairman Larry O’Brien, who at one time was a Washington lobbyist for Hughes. This information may have had Nixon asking Hughes in early 1960 to arrange the assassination of Castro without the government’s fingerprints on it. Hughes assigned his assistant, Robert Maheu, to handle the matter and Maheu initiated contacts with the Mafia and key Cuban Americans to carry out the assassination. Nixon wanted this to happen before the 1960 election but it was not possible. Nixon lost the election to John Kennedy. However, the assassination operation continued without the Kennedy brothers being aware. There was fear in Nixon’s campaign leadership that he could be indirectly and falsely linked to the JFK assassination through Cuban Government documents. As it turned out some those involved in the Castro assassination plot were later involved in the Kennedy assassination.

 

30) In 2020 someone posted on Facebook the televised appearance of Hunt before the Senate Watergate Committee in September 1973. It was the first time I had seen the testimony and  was stunned when his chief lawyer introduced to the Committee a lawyer associated with him in representing Hunt. He cited Robert Scott sitting behind Hunt. Scott, the consummate double agent who began his betrayal of Hunt [and me] starting in the early morning hours of June 17, 1972, when Hunt was in my apartment seeking legal counsel after the burglars’ arrests, stuck close to Hunt right up to his testimony before the Committee over a year later and maybe even thereafter.

 

When I saw Scott being introduced as one of Hunt’s lawyers, I made the decision to disclose the unrevealed roles of him and also Liddy in Watergate. Up until then I had resolved not to publicly disclose their roles because the memory of the personal trauma that I went through because of them in Watergate still affected me. Scott later became a District of Columbia judge and Liddy parlayed his con into a lucrative post prison career. History beckoned me at age 84 to write this memoir on the 50th anniversary of the scandal.

 

 

THE WRAP-UP

 

 

Watergate prosecutor James Neal was sure that Nixon had not known in advance of the break-in. As evidence, he cited a conversation taped on June 23 between the President and his Chief of Staff, H.R. Haldeman, in which Nixon asked, “Who was the asshole that did that?” [Source: Wikipedia.]

 

David Isbell, a partner in the law firm of Covington and Burling and a leader in the Democratic Party‘s effort to use Watergate to destroy the Nixon Administration, told his client, Government Confidential Informant Robert Merritt, that he had come to believe that “Nixon was a patsy just like Oswald was” because he had no prior knowledge of the break-in. Isbell began having second thoughts about bringing Nixon down because he presciently feared that whoever might follow him would be far worse.

 

After causing the scandal in bungling the burglary of the DNC, Liddy bowed out and left it to others to deal with the mess he had created. He told Finance Committee Chairman Maurice Stans that he was “going keep my mouth shut and go to prison.” This was a key part of his Plan B strategy, which was to remain silent before and after going to prison in furtherance of the new persona con that he was adopting.

 

Liddy betrayed his comrades when as operational team leader he made the reckless decision to go ahead with the burglary. He later stood by silently as Hunt and the five burglars were found guilty.

 

Never once did Liddy express any remorse for what he had done. If he had been a stand-up guy and a patriot who put country before his self-centered ambition, he would have publicly acknowledged after the arrests of the five burglars that he was the operational chief who was responsible for the crime. What did he stand to lose by confessing his role? It was inevitable that he was going to prison. As the U.S. Court of Appeals declared in affirming his conviction, the evidence against him was overwhelming.

 

It should be remembered that In January 1972 Liddy made his first presentation to Attorney General John Mitchell of his bizarre intelligence gathering plan for the presidential campaign. Mitchell responded it was not exactly what he had in mind and directed Liddy to draft another one, which he did. Doldrums set in and there was no movement to execute his plan. Liddy then hit upon a scheme. He persuaded Hunt to introduce him to Chuck Colson, Special Counsel to the President, who in the White House hierarchy was above Jeb Magruder, Assistant to the President, to whom Liddy reported. Colson bought Liddy’s pitch for action, picked up the phone and called Magruder and expressed his approval of Liddy’s moving ahead in intelligence gathering on the Democrats. This put Liddy in the driver’s seat and after that he was the decision maker. The two break-ins of the DNC were Liddy operations in which he was the chief.

 

January 1972 was when I first met Liddy at my friend’s lunch in the White House Mess when Liddy extoled endlessly the 1934 poopoo propaganda film, Triumph of the Will. Liddy admired Hitler for exerting his will to organize the poopoo Party and the Party’s Congress rally of 700,000 Nazis that was the basis of the film.  Leni Riefenstahl, who produced the film, explained that Hitler “wanted a film showing the Congress though a non-expert eye, selecting just what was satisfying – in terms of spectacle, I suppose you might say. He wanted a film which would move, appeal to, impress an audience which was not necessarily interested in politics.”

 

Liddy, who once said “listening to Hitler made me feel a strength inside me that I had never known before,” absorbed all of this and when he was released from prison wrote “WILL: The Autobiography of G. Gordon Liddy.” It was his personal Triumph of the Will patterned after the 1934 film to move, appeal to, impress an audience which was not necessarily interested in politics.

 

Liddy’ plan B that required him to portray himself as heroically refusing to betray his comrades was the persona he was adopting when he met with me in the law firm’s office a week after the arrests. When he was released from prison, he emerged somewhat as a folk hero to millions when in reality his adopted persona allowed him to cash in as bogus celebrity, which brought him fame and wealth as an author, a syndicated talk show host and a movie based on WILL.

 

In the 1980s I represented Billie Sol Estes, a notorious convicted swindler who wanted to be given immunity by the government so he could tell his story of key players in Texas corruption. Pam Tedford, Billie Sol’s daughter, once told me that she knew persons in the Texas oil business who committed massive fraud on their investors and in other business dealings and after being convicted were willing to serve a few years in prison knowing that when they got out they could claim their vast hidden wealth.

 

Liddy did not have any money hidden away. What he did have was a con plan to remain silent and serve his time in prison and emerge to cash in on his bogus celebrity. His plan paid off handsomely. My agreement to represent him on June 17, 1972, in Watergate did not entail his using the scandal that brought the president down to inflict a con job on the American public. Sixty nine persons were indicted and forty eight convicted as a result of his actions.

 

Liddy never expressed appreciation for what I had in his behalf. In his book WILL, he did not mention my going into contempt of court to protect his rights and those of the other defendants. He did not even raise it as a defense argument at his trial because doing so did not fit into his con plan, of which I was a victim along with others.

 

While attending the Georgetown University in the late 1950s I was fortunate to take two courses on Civilization taught by Professor Carroll Quigley. William Clinton attended the school seven years after I did and later as President returned each year to give a speech in honor of Professor Quigley.  What I remember foremost from Professor Quigley’s study of civilization is his conclusion that “the world is irrational.” Gordon Liddy’s personal ambition in Watergate that ultimately brought down the President of the United States is living proof of this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Douglas Caddy
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Robert Bennett succeeded Larry O'Brien in representing Howard Hughes' interests in Washington. Bennett became president of the Mullen Company in late 1971. Here is an excerpt from the July 10, 1973, "Memorandum for the Record by Martin Lukosie, a CIA employee: Subject - Meeting with Robert Foster Bennett and his Comments Concerning E. Howard Hunt, Douglas Caddy and the 'Watergate Five' incident....Mr. Bennett rather proudly related that he is responsible for the article 'Whispers About Colson' that appeared in the March 5 issue of Newsweek. Mr. Bennett does not believe the [Mullen] company will be bothered much by the news media which is concluding that 'the company is clean and has gotten a bum rap while the real culprits are scot free.' Mr. Bennett said also that he has been feeding stories to Bob Woodward of the Washington Post with the understanding that there will be not attribution to Bennett. Woodward is suitably grateful for the fine stories and by-lines which he gets and protects Bennett and the Mullen Company. Typical is the article 'Hunt Tried to Recruit Agent to Probe Senator Kennedy's Life' on page A16 of Saturday, February 10, 1973, Washington Post. Bennett mentioned the February 11, 1973 meeting between himself, [Robert]Mullen and [deleted], when he stated his opinion that the Ervin Committee investigating the Watergate incident would not involve the [Mullen] company. He said that, if necessary he would have his father, Senator Bennett of Utah, intercede with Senator Ervin. His conclusion is that he could handle the Ervin Committee if the Agency can handle Howard Hunt." 
 
[Note: Robert Bennett subsequently succeeded his father as the U.S. Senator from Utah.]
 
[Note: The CIA incorporated the Robert Mullen Company in 1959.]
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