A look at some of the Watergate convicts still alive, after-the-jump …
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As a teenager, I bought one of the posters shown above at Spencer Gifts …. and in the not-too-distant future, hope that they (and other shops) will be peddling a newfound version for Team Mar-A-Lago.
Four of the individuals shown above are still alive (each in their early-to-mid 80’s) and as we enter the 50th anniversary of when Watergate first exploded (including the Watergate hearings, which I watched as dutifully as I did with the J6 hearings) — I thought I‘d present a look at them … plus someone not on the poster (and who died just two years ago) to illustrate the range of their reactions to Watergate.
John Dean needs little intro from myself …. I shook hands with him at a prior Netroots Nation following his involvement with a legal panel, is a frequent lecturer and has a very active Twitter account that yields-to-no-one in chronicling the crimes of you-know-who. All I will add is one story:
When the Senate Watergate committee learned of the existence of the White House tapes … lead counsel Sam Dash was eager to tell John Dean (before Alexander Butterfield revealed it publicly) to see his reaction. This was because it was Dean who speculated (in prior testimony before the committee that Nixon might have been taping his own conversations) that piqued their interest. And when Dash saw a smile break-out on Dean’s face… he saw history-in-the-making.
Donald Segretti lost his law license after serving five months in prison for three counts of forged campaign literature … part of the dirty tricks he was hired by his University of Southern California (USC) college classmate Dwight Chapin (more on that later) to perform. He attended UC-Berkeley law school, became a JAG in Vietnam and joined the Administration after his discharge.
Though I cannot locate it online: I recall a 1970’s magazine article in which he described his dirty tricks: using what he called “sweet oil” that caused Democratic campaign offices to have to fumigate, sending leaflets falsely proclaiming a free barbecue (paid for by Democratic candidate “X”) to neighborhood residents, then leaving the drafts at candidate X’s office with notes that it was produced by Democratic candidate “Y”, and the like.
He also produced faked letters (on stolen Edmund Muskie letterhead) accusing Sen. Hubert Humphrey of sexual misconduct and alleging that Sen Henry (Scoop) Jackson had an illegitimate child with a 17 year-old. Most notably: he sent a fake letter-to-the-editor alleging that a member of Muskie’s staff had disparaged the notable French-Canadian population in New England by saying referring to them as Canucks. Nearly two years later, Segretti sent this letter of apology to Muskie.
After Segretti lost his law license in 1976 following his conviction, he was able to successfully petition for it some time later. In 1995 he launched a bid for a local judgeship in the conservative Orange County, but was forced to withdraw when an uproar over his candidacy arose. In 2000, he was Orange County co-chair of John McCain’s unsuccessful bid for the GOP nomination.
In more recent times: in a Christian Science Monitor article last year, he was quoted as describing the Senate Watergate committee as “a political show aimed at Nixon” yet allowed that the January 6th hearings were “much more of a factual presentation”.
In 2018 he spoke to students at his high school and said, “We knew it was not right, but we didn’t know it was illegal. We believed it was the way politics was done. One of the lessons you can take away from my few minutes here is to think through in your own mind, is this morally right or wrong, and don’t be swayed by anyone else. I have thought about this point a lot.”
In the title of his 2022 memoirs, Nixon appointments secretary Dwight Chapin labels himself The President’s Man — and it’s not a false claim as he is still a diehard Nixon loyalist to this day.
In 1958, he attended the American Legion’s Boy’s State (which five years later Bill Clinton famously attended, leading to his handshake with JFK). Chapin was elected as a “Tory leader” with the “Whig leader” elected … the future actor Stacy Keach.
He attended USC along with Donald Segretti, Gordon Strachan, Herbert Porter and Ron Ziegler, who would later be dubbed “the USC Mafia” — this was obliquely referenced in the “All the President’s Men” film, which I didn’t understand back then. He and Don Segretti ran in the 1962 USC student government elections (under the banner of Trojans for Representative Government, or TRG) that was an early trial run of dirty tricks — ballot box stuffing, planting spies in other campaigns and spreading false campaign literature. Do read this short 2020 essay in the USC student newspaper about The Path to Watergate just ten years later.
Chapin was fired in December, 1972 and denied any knowledge of what Segretti wound-up doing (contrary to Segretti’s grand jury testimony) and was indicted for making false statements to that grand jury. Throughout the process, Chapin was defiant: telling prosecutors to f-off about cooperating and when convicted and sentenced to nine months in a Club Fed — vowed to take his case to the Supreme Court (mercifully, he lost).
The main purposes of his book seem to be (1) praising any accomplishment of Nixon, while (2) absolving him of any true wrongdoing (only “mistakes”) — even though Nixon allowed Chapin to go to prison — while (3) trying to pin the blame for Watergate on John Dean. Chapin works as a business consultant today.
A complete contrast with Chapin is Hugh Sloan, Jr. — who served as treasurer to the infamous Committee to Re-Elect the President (CREEP), who immediately jumped-ship when he sensed there was wrongdoing. Woodward & Bernstein described him as one of the few witnesses they trusted. Since then, he has kept such a low profile (even with an automotive business career here and in Canada) that I couldn’t find a recent photo of him.
A Princeton graduate, he was appalled when G. Gordon Felony (as I refer to him), passed-by in the office hallway the day after the Watergate break-in, saying “My boys got caught last night”, and most upset that CREEP staffer James McCord was among them. Sloan realized — when reports surfaced that the burglars carried numerous $100 bills (with serial numbers in sequence) — that it was he who had given them to Liddy in the first place (at the direction of Jeb Magruder). Sloan had mistakenly believed they were for “campaign security”, and set-out to seek answers from above.
First, Maurice Stans told him, “It’s the campaign’s problem, not ours”, then John Erlichman told him “You don’t want to know any details”, then Dwight Chapin called him “somewhat overwrought”, going back to Maurice Stans (whom Sloan suspected had been coached by John Mitchell) echoing Erlichman’s “You don’t want to know” and finally having Jeb Magruder trying to get him to commit perjury.
He resigned his post shortly afterwards, left town and cooperated with prosecutors, with Sam Ervin praising his testimony before the Senate Watergate committee. In a 1992 twenty-year retrospective interview with the Washington Post, he and his wife expressed sorrow at the toll the scandal had on divorces (with the Erlichmans, Magruders, Chapins and Kalmbachs among them).
As noted, he’s kept a very low profile in this century … but in that 1992 interview, he said he spoke at high schools but would not accept a fee (believing it was wrong to do, by helping to send people to jail via his testimony) and in telling students to ask questions over ethical qualms, “You should be very nervous … when somebody tells you it’s none of your business”.
Someone who came into the Nixon administration with a reputation for integrity — before losing it in an ill-advised reaction to the Pentagon Papers — then redeeming himself with both helping prosecutors as well as being a lecturer on the ethics circuit — is the late Egil (Bud) Krogh, who came to the White House due to his service as a lawyer in John Ehrlichman’s Seattle law firm.
Before being appointed by John Ehrlichman as the head of the notorious Plumbers Squad (to plug leaks to the press) his main claim-to-fame had been arranging for Elvis Presley’s visit to the White House … where Nixon presented Elvis with a … err …. umm ….. narcotics agent badge.
Krogh brought Liddy onto his team, after getting quite a lecture from Nixon on how national security was devastated over the Pentagon Papers leak — all of which stunned Krogh’s friends, that he would be involved with such an operation. It was Krogh who approved the break-in of the office of the psychiatrist of Daniel Ellsberg (who just recently revealed he has inoperable pancreatic cancer).
Interestingly, he was fired from the Plumbers after he refused to issue a wiretap … which gave him time to reflect on what he had done. He pleaded guilty to violation of civil rights, was sentenced to six years in prison and was disbarred by the state of Washington Supreme Court in 1975.
Krogh did not immediately step-away in disgust (as Hugh Sloan did), nor was he defiant (like Dwight Chapin was). He cooperated with prosecutors, sought no favors and was released from prison after only five months. He became a sought-after lecturer on ethics panels, had his license restored in 1980 and wrote a 2007 book about the lessons he learned from his misdeeds.
Egil “Bud” Krogh died in January, 2020 at the age of eighty and an HBO mini-series on The Plumbers is scheduled to premier very soon (starring Woody Harrelson as E. Howard Hunt and Justin Theroux as G. Gordon Felony). The series (and companion book) is partly based on Krogh’s 2007 memoirs, with this moment coming from the Watergate prosecutor Leon Jaworski, in an address he gave to the student body at UC-Berkeley:
“One of the men who was involved in this case is in our audience tonight,” said the courtly Texan who replaced Archibald Cox, the prosecutor Nixon had had fired. “What is more, he asked for no favors or special privileges, from the prosecutor or the court. He said he found his own conduct indefensible, and he was willing to take the punishment for what he had done.”
Slowly and with some reluctance, a man in the audience took to his feet.
“This is Egil (Bud) Krogh,” Jaworski said.
“I do not know how many political rallies I have attended,” Jaworski wrote later. “But I have never seen or heard anything quite as genuine as the emotion that crowd gave to Bud Krogh, an ex-lawyer who had just been introduced by the man who sent him to prison.”
It turned out that Jaworski was one of those who had petitioned the state of Washington bar to restore Krogh’s legal license … and at the lecture noted above, Jaworski added:
“The enduring question of Watergate is whether we, as a people, will learn from it. Some have.”
Until the day we get a Mar-A-Lago poster …. we’ll have to settle for Tom T.
Now, on to Top Comments:
Nothing came-in from the field today.
And from Ed Tracey, your faithful correspondent this evening ........
In the diary by Crashing Vor about the latest legal tale of woe for George Santos — Things Come Undone wants more from his former treasurer.
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March 8th, 2023
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