Monday, July 09, 2007

Fred Thompson: Watergate Investigator/Nixon Rat

Boy, it just keeps getting worse for Fred, doesn’t it? Yesterday the media reported that Fred was once a pro-choice lobbyist (kills him with pro-lifers); today the media reveals that Fred was secretly feeding the Nixon administration inside information and pimping for the administration he was supposed to be investigating. (Kills Fred with the five or six Republican voters who are actually interested in integrity in government.)
Fred Thompson aided Nixon on Watergate

By JOAN LOWY, Associated Press Writer
Sat Jul 7, 12:24 PM ET

WASHINGTON - Fred Thompson gained an image as a tough-minded investigative counsel for the Senate Watergate committee. Yet President Nixon and his top aides viewed the fellow Republican as a willing, if not too bright, ally, according to White House tapes.

Thompson, now preparing a bid for the 2008 GOP presidential nomination, won fame in 1973 for asking a committee witness the bombshell question that revealed Nixon had installed hidden listening devices and taping equipment in the Oval Office.

(That’s good.)

...It was Thompson who tipped off the White House that the Senate committee knew about the tapes.

(That’s bad. Real bad. Prosecutor Thompson tipping off the target of the investigation that the Senate already knew about the tapes and that they were going to ask that “bombshell” question anyway, whether Thompson took credit for asking it or not. It turns out that Fred Thompson was actually Nixon’s “secret agent” on the investigating committee...When a lawyer does that, it’s considered...”unethical”, as in, “you should be disbarred” unethical...)

Nixon was disappointed with the selection of Thompson, whom he called "dumb as hell."

(I have to agree with Nixon, there.)

..."Oh shit, that kid," Nixon said when told by his chief of staff, H.R. Haldeman, of Thompson's appointment on Feb. 22, 1973.

"Well, we're stuck with him," Haldeman said.

(They were right. Nixon: prison, if Ford hadn’t pardoned him. Haldeman: prison.)

(Howard Baker, Thompson’s mentor) had secret meetings and conversations with Nixon and his top aides, while Thompson worked cooperatively with the White House and accepted coaching from Nixon's lawyer, J. Fred Buzhardt, the tapes and transcripts show.

"We've got a pretty good rapport with Fred Thompson," Buzhardt told Nixon in an Oval Office meeting on June 6, 1973. The meeting included a discussion of former White House counsel John Dean's upcoming testimony before the committee...

Nixon expressed concern that Thompson was not "very smart."

"Not extremely so," Buzhardt agreed.

"But he's friendly," Nixon said.

"But he's friendly," Buzhardt agreed. "We are hoping, though, to work with Thompson and prepare him, if Dean does appear next week, to do a very thorough cross-examination."

..."I found Thompson most cooperative, feeling more Republican every day," Buzhardt said. "Uh, perfectly prepared to assist in really doing a cross-examination."

Later in the same conversation, Buzhardt said Thompson was "willing to go, you know, pretty much the distance now. And he said he realized his responsibility was going to have be as a Republican increasingly."

(His responsibility as a Republican, which conflicted with his responsibility as an investigating attorney and as citizen of the United States.)

Thompson, who declined comment for this story ("I ain't talkin', see?), described himself in his book, "At That Point in Time," published in 1975, as a Nixon administration "loyalist" who struggled with his role as minority counsel. "I would try to walk a fine line between a good-faith pursuit of the investigation and a good-faith attempt to insure balance and fairness," Thompson wrote

(He left out the part where he crossed the fine line regularly to feed Nixon insider info about what was going on inside the investigating committee. We got that stuff on tape.)

...At a hearing on July 16, Thompson asked former White House aide Alexander Butterfield: "Mr. Butterfield, are you aware of the installation of any listening devices in the Oval Office of the president?"

Butterfield's confirmation of the recordings set off a cascade of events that led to Nixon's resignation 13 months later.

The question made Thompson instantly famous. His political Web site — — prominently notes: "Friends in Tennessee still recall seeing the boy they'd grown up with on TV, sitting at the Senate hearing-room dais. He gained national attention for leading the line of inquiry that revealed the audio-taping system in the White House Oval Office."

What rarely is mentioned is that Thompson knew the answer to the question before he asked it. Investigators for the committee had gotten the information out of Butterfield during hours of behind-the-scenes questioning three days earlier, on July 13.

(Yes, that is rarely mentioned. Why does Fred rarely mention that?)

Thompson was not present, but a Republican investigator immediately tracked him down at the Carroll Arms Hotel bar where he was meeting with a reporter. Thompson called Buzhardt over the weekend to tip off the White House that the committee knew about the tapes.

(Secret phone call from “Mr. Integrity”/Fred to Nixon’s lawyer: “INCOMING! Dey know about da tape recordin’! What does ya want me ta do next, boss?” Fred is playing a character like Matt Damon played in “The Departed,” see—except he’s playing it in real life...)

...Scott Armstrong, a Democratic investigator for the committee who was part of the Butterfield questioning, said he was outraged by Thompson's tip-off.

"When the prosecutor discovers the smoking the gun, he's going to be shocked to find that the deputy prosecutor called the defendant and said, 'You'd better get rid of that gun,'" Armstrong said in an interview.

(It’s not shocking if you know the Republican attitude towards the law and towards ethics. Playing the Nixon rat on the investigating committee sure paid off for Fred, though, didn’t it?)

Watergate: STILL an issue for Republicans in the 2008 elections. Can't they find a conservative candidate with just a little integrity?



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