Tricky Dick by Roger Stone and Mike Colapietro by Roger Stone and Mike Colapietro - Read Online

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Copyright © 2014, 2017 by Roger Stone with Mike Colapietro

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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is available on file.

Cover design by Brian Peterson

Print ISBN: 978-1-5107-2139-5

Ebook ISBN: 978-1-5107-2143-2

Printed in the United States of America

To my beloved wife,

Nydia, who supports me when I am right and when

I am wrong, and my beloved dogs, Milhous, Taft,

Dewey, Pee Wee, Buster, and Oscar. All noble dogs.



Anyone writing a book about Richard Nixon is blessed with an abundance of sources. The most durable figure in American politics in the twentieth century, Nixon has been the subject of fascination and public debate for six and a half decades. The literature runs the gamut from devastating psychological profiles such as Fawn M. Brodie’s Richard Nixon: The Shaping of His Character and Arthur Woodstone’s Nixon’s Head, which can find no redeemable qualities in Nixon, and Lord Conrad Black’s Richard M. Nixon: A Life in Full, which can find no fault in the man.

In order to grasp the full scope of Nixon and to carefully balance both his attributes and his faults, one must delve deeply into the literature on our thirty-seventh president. William Safire’s Before the Fall is required reading for anyone who wants to understand Nixon, as is Raymond K. Price’s With Nixon. The three-volume biography of Nixon by historian Stephen Ambrose presents a fine and balanced portrait of Nixon and his times. The fact that Ambrose wrote an excellent multivolume biography of Dwight Eisenhower gave him additional insight into the complicated relationship between Ike and Dick. The New York Times reporter Tom Wicker’s One of Us has the same balance and perspective.

I am particularly indebted to Nixon law partner Leonard Garment for his iconoclastic view of Nixon as reflected in Crazy Rhythm and In Search of Deep Throat: The Greatest Political Mystery of Our Time.

Jules Witcover is perhaps the best reporter on the 1968 campaign with his much overlooked The Year the Dream Died, his The Resurrection of Richard Nixon, and his more recent Very Strange Bedfellows: The Short and Unhappy Marriage of Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew. Witcover’s shrewd insights and eye for color make him one of the best political reporters of our time.

Generally speaking, the books by Theodore White on US presidential elections are close to worthless. White, an affable man, was mesmerized by the stylish and dashing John Kennedy. White, in his seminal The Making of the President, 1960, wove a narrative in which Kennedy was a star and Nixon a black-hatted villain. White bought into JFK’s expensively promoted image of style, grace, and intellectualism. Kennedy’s young and carefully dressed wife and his beautiful young children were part of the mystique. White wondered why the Nixon entourage would treat him coolly when he joined the Nixon campaign tour wearing a Kennedy button. Fortunately, three authors have written retrospectives on the 1960 campaign, which put the photo-finish election in better perspective. First among these is David Pietrusza’s 1960—LBJ vs. JFK vs. Nixon: The Epic Campaign That Forged Three Presidencies. Also invaluable for a more balanced assessment of that race is Professor Edmund F. Kallina Jr.’s Kennedy v. Nixon: The Presidential Election of 1960, although the good professor underestimates the important role of organized crime in stealing votes for Kennedy. The Kennedy Brothers by former Arizona Secretary of State Richard D. Mahoney is the definitive account of the efforts of the Chicago mob to intimidate voters in that city as well as the mob’s earlier role in the West Virginia primary. Also required reading for a better understanding of the 1960 election is W. J. Rorabaugh’s The Real Making of the President.

Because of the circumstances of his death and the effects on him by his brother’s assassination, public awareness of Robert F. Kennedy is more vague today. Because of Robert Kennedy’s tactics in the 1960 election, he is an extraordinary factor in the Nixon narrative. I relied upon the aforementioned The Kennedy Brothers as well as Jeffrey K. Smith’s Bad Blood: Lyndon B. Johnson, Robert F. Kennedy, and the Tumultuous 1960s and Jeff Shesol’s Mutual Contempt: Lyndon Johnson, Robert Kennedy and the Feud that Defined a Decade. Robert Kennedy was among the most ruthless political operators of the 1960s, a fact you won’t find in Arthur Schlesinger’s Robert Kennedy and His Times.

Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter J. Anthony Lukas, in his stunning book Nightmare: The Underside of the Nixon Years, bores in on several areas of Watergate and the Nixon administration where knowledge is scant, including the role of Robert Bennett and his CIA front the Mullen Company in the break-in, the 1969–71 wiretapping on Nixon’s aides, the Howard Hughes–Nixon relationship, the Saturday night massacre, and the connection between the Watergate break-in and a high-end house of prostitution operating out of the Columbia Plaza Apartments only blocks from the Watergate.

Although most Nixon loyalists heap abuse on investigative journalist Anthony Summers’s book The Arrogance of Power: The Secret World of Richard Nixon, I found it both fascinating and readable. Don Fulsom’s Nixon’s Darkest Secrets has an agenda but is an asset. The reporting of Dan E. Moldea is invaluable, particularly regarding Nixon’s long and complicated relationship with Teamster leader James Jimmy Hoffa.

I am particularly indebted to several groundbreaking journalists who have had the courage and tenacity to examine the accepted Watergate narrative and poke substantial holes in it. Secret Agenda by Jim Hougan is the important first cut at permeating the many falsehoods the public accepts about Watergate.

In their book Silent Coup, Leonard Colodny and Robert Gettlin advanced the narrative first uncovered by Hougan. Working with Tom Shachtman, Colodny’s The Forty Years War outlined in graphic detail the foreign policy hard-liners’ attempts to undo Nixon’s policy of détente. Fox News White House Correspondent James Rosen’s biography of Nixon Attorney General John N. Mitchell, The Strong Man, fifteen years in the writing, is a vital corrective for many of the myths of Watergate. A must-read is also veteran journalist Phil Stanford’s White House Call Girl, which breaks important new ground in the Watergate narrative.

The public can more accurately understand what really transpired in Watergate through the writing and scholarship of former White House lawyer Geoff Shepard, who has exhaustively examined the words and actions of former White House Counsel John Dean and has written a devastating critique of Dean’s most recent book, The Nixon Defense. This analysis is included in this volume as Appendix 5.

Beyond these authors, as well as many others, I am indebted to Craig Shirley, Michael Caputo, former Reader’s Digest Washington Editor Bill Schulz, Jeffrey S. Bell, Douglas Caddy, Ed Cox, Scott and Sonia Kaiser, John Taylor, Andrew Cettina, Travis Irvine, Sharon Kaplan, Dianne Thorne, Robert Morrow, William Maloney, and Roger Ailes. I am indebted to our publisher Tony Lyons of Skyhorse Publishing, a man of uncommon courage, my editors Steve Price and Krishan Trotman, and of course, my coauthor Mike Colapietro, who labored without complaint to make our deadlines.

—Roger Stone

Miami Beach, Florida

PREFACE (2017)


As this book was being published, new information was released that placed the whole concept of the crimes of Watergate in a new light; not only the crimes themselves, in fact, but the criminals as well. These new revelations change our very understanding of Watergate. Far from being a perpetrator, Nixon was a victim—the judges and prosecutors turn out to have engaged in a criminal conspiracy. Dare I say that what went on during the prosecution of Nixon was actually the persecution of Nixon!

Never in modern times has a major trial been so stacked against the accused. Never have I witnessed justice being thwarted at every step by the judges and prosecutors in this manner. Never has there been a case where those that are sworn to uphold the law knowingly disregarded and broke the law, and never has there been a more conspiratorial effort to deny the defendants the fair and due processes guaranteed to all Americans by the Constitution of the United States. There is an old saying that has never seemed so apt: Who will protect us from our protectors?

The details of this miscarriage of justice did not come forth all at one time. They were not lying about in front of our eyes, calling out to us. No, they lay hidden, buried for over forty years. They lay scattered among tens of thousands of papers in dozens of files and libraries across this country. They were so deeply buried that they retained the truth, unaltered, unedited, and untouched. The irony is that as they lay dormant decade after decade, their purity as evidence is unquestionable. They are primary sources; they come from the original source—the person who wrote the document—and there is no better evidence than that. The authors never for one second thought that the very notes they wrote, the very memos they sent, would show beyond any doubt their collusion in the biggest legal fraud in modern American jurisprudence.

The truth about Watergate is that Nixon was the victim of a conspiracy by the judges, lawyers, press, and committees that relentlessly persecuted him for two premeditated outcomes: to cause a change in the presidency without vote and to satisfy personal political vendettas.

The American people also were the victims of this conspiracy because they were denied the truth. The Constitution was trashed and subverted. The good guys, who were sworn to uphold the laws, were in fact the bad guys who broke those very laws! The judges who were charged with the greatest of responsibilities, that of fairness and impartiality, turned out to be the complete opposite. The Watergate trial was about as fair and impartial as a Ku Klux Klan lynching. And yet, these truths were covered up, and a false account was constructed. To this day, the American people believe what they were told: that justice had been carried out and the people won. Let’s look at the relevant portions of the Constitution, as well as the guidelines for proper judicial conduct, to see just how wrong this perception is.

The Fifth Amendment

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.¹

As part of the Constitution, the Fifth Amendment is one of the foundations of a free and just society, stipulating due process of law. While the Fifth Amendment deals with due process on a federal level, however, it needed additional authority to extend the protection on a state level, and in 1868, the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified using almost the same words as those found in the Fifth Amendment.

As an outcome of Yankee post-Civil War reconstruction, the Fourteenth Amendment served to protect former slaves and bring them judicial equality and citizenship. The southern states were dead set against it, but were forced to ratify it in order to regain representation in Congress. They did, after all, lose the war. By mid-1868, twenty-eight states ratified this amendment (there were some states that did not do so until 1959 and 1976).²

The Fourteenth Amendment

Section 1: All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

The Fourteenth Amendment’s first section includes several clauses: the Citizenship Clause, Privileges or Immunities Clause, Due Process Clause, and Equal Protection Clause. This amendment, especially its first section, is still one of the most litigated amendments of the entire US Constitution. The Citizenship Clause was a major landmark for minorities. Until 1857, no black person, whether descended from a slave or not, could be a citizen of the United States. That rule, known as Dred Scott v. Sanford, was overruled when the Fourteenth Amendment was added to the constitution.

The Due Process Clause prohibits state and local government officials from depriving persons of life, liberty, or property without legislative authorization. The Equal Protection Clause requires each state to provide equal protection under the law to all people within its jurisdiction.

These three clauses are the basis for many litigations such as Roe v. Wade (1973) regarding abortion, Bush v. Gore (2000) regarding the 2000 presidential election, Brown v. Board of Education (1954) regarding racial segregation, and Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) regarding same-sex marriages. The remaining sections are rarely litigated.

The Sixth Amendment

The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution is the part of the United States Bill of Rights that sets forth rights related to criminal prosecutions:

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.³

In context of Nixon and Watergate, it is important to keep in mind the amendments of the Constitution that were subverted and denied, resulting in his resignation and the sentencing of those that served him.

Code of Conduct for United States Judges

Equally important as the amendments is the Judicial Code of Conduct, which outlines the acceptable behavior for all judges. We will refer to these when discussing the activities of Judge John Sirica.

•   Canon 1: A Judge Should Uphold the Integrity and Independence of the Judiciary

The integrity and independence of judges depend in turn on their acting without fear or favor. Although judges should be independent, they must comply with the law and should comply with this Code. Adherence to this responsibility helps to maintain public confidence in the impartiality of the judiciary.

•   Canon 2: A Judge Should Avoid Impropriety and the Appearance of Impropriety in All Activities

A judge should not allow family, social, political, financial, or other relationships to influence judicial conduct or judgment. A judge should neither lend the prestige of the judicial office to advance the private interests of the judge or others nor convey or permit others to convey the impression that they are in a special position to influence the judge. A judge should not testify voluntarily as a character witness.

•   Canon 3: A Judge Should Perform the Duties of the Office Fairly, Impartially, and Diligently

A judge should accord to every person who has a legal interest in a proceeding, and that person’s lawyer, the full right to be heard according to law. Except as set out below, a judge should not initiate, permit, or consider ex parte communications or consider other communications concerning a pending or impending matter that are made outside the presence of the parties or their lawyers.

•   Canon 4: A Judge May Engage in Extrajudicial Activities That are Consistent with the Obligations of Judicial Office

•   Canon 5: A Judge Should Refrain From Political Activity

With our understanding of the Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments, as well as the Judicial Code of Conduct, we can now move on to show how, exactly, Nixon’s rights were violated.

The Secret Meetings

The most startling new information to surface regarding the violation of Nixon’s rights is the many ex parte meetings that Judge Sirica had with the prosecutors.

Canon 3 clearly states that a judge should not … permit … ex parte communications. Between December 1972 and March 1974, there were at least twelve secret ex parte meetings between Judge Sirica and members of the prosecution. These meetings were in direct violation of the Judicial Conduct Code, in addition to denying Nixon a fair trial and the due process of the law. Any time you have the judge having secret meetings with the prosecution, the whole trial and its outcome are tainted and, therefore, not valid.

Some of the prosecution staff that met with Sirica were Principal Assistant US Attorney Earl Silbert, Ervin Committee Chief Sam Dash, Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox, Special Prosecutor Leon Jaworski, Deputy Director of the Watergate Task Force Richard Ben-Veniste, and Counsel to the Special Prosecutor Phillip Lacovara. These meetings represent a conspiracy to assure the convictions of the Watergate defendants. In other words, the judge and the prosecutors engaged in a criminal conspiracy to deny due process to the defendants. Any pretense of a fair trial is gone.

The meetings occurred as follows:

•   December 1972: Sirica and White House Special Counsel Clark Mollenhoff.

Purpose: to convince Sirica that senior Nixon aides must have been involved in Watergate.

•   January 1973: Sirica and Principal Assistant US Attorney Earl Silbert.

Purpose: to tell Silbert how Sirica felt they should conduct the break-in prosecution.

•   March 1973: Sirica and Ervin Committee Chief Counsel Sam Dash.

Purpose: to convince Sirica to impose harsh temporary sentences with possible reduction based on cooperation with Ervin Committee investigations.

•   June and July 1973: Sirica and Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox.

Purpose: unknown.¹⁰

•   September 1973: Special Prosecutor Cox and DC Circuit Chief Judge David Bazelon.

Purpose: to urge Bazelon to stack the appellate panels on appeals from Judge Sirica’s trials.¹¹

•   November 1973: Sirica and newly appointed Special Prosecutor Leon Jaworski.

Purpose: courtesy call on first day in office.¹²

•   December 1973: Sirica, Judge Gesell, Leon Jaworski, Richard Ben-Veniste (Deputy Director of Watergate Task Force), Phillip Lacovara (Counsel to the Special Prosecutor).

Purpose: to discuss status of Watergate investigations and possible creation of an additional grand jury.¹³

•   February 1974: Sirica and Jaworski.

Purpose: to inform Sirica of intent to have grand jury issue a special sealed report about Nixon to the House Judiciary Committee.¹⁴

•   March 1974: Sirica and Jaworski.

Purpose: to coordinate conduct of indictment presentation so that Sirica could appoint himself to preside over the cover-up trial.¹⁵

•   March 1974: Sirica and Jaworski.

Purpose: to review the hearing and coordinate any further actions.¹⁶

There were other meetings, but these were the main ones. If just one of these secret ex parte meetings had been exposed at that time, there would have been resignations and possible disbarment. Even after all these years they completely taint and overrule the Watergate verdicts.

Fair and Unbiased

The Watergate Hearings (Sam Ervin Committee) were held in Washington, DC, and they were covered by the press through live television and newspaper articles. How anyone could have thought that this sort of publicity could afford an impartial jury is beyond me. Nixon was already found guilty as far as the public was concerned. The mass demonstrations against the war, despite having nothing to do with Watergate, had sealed his fate. The press was riding a wave of anti-Nixon sentiment; his personal-enemies list contained many reporters and journalists who had managed to irritate him. Certainly, the Washington Post and the New York Times were at the top of that list.

If you make enemies of the press, you’ll be left without a means of defending yourself in the public eye. People believe what they read in the press.

So, one way or another, Nixon’s guilt had been accepted by the public before it was determined by the courts. Even before the proceedings got under way, the deck was stacked against him.

Get Nixon

The Watergate Special Prosecution Force (WSPF) came about as a condition for confirming Elliot Richardson as the new attorney general. The Senate Judiciary Committee, who imposed the condition, was dominated by Democrats. Archibald Cox was their chief prosecutor.

Cox had been a lifelong Democrat and a personal friend to John F. Kennedy since the 1950s. He had served as JFK’s speechwriter and adviser during the 1960 presidential campaign. Most of the lawyers picked for the WSPF had worked for Robert Kennedy’s Department of Justice in the Organized Crime Task Force, also known as the Get Hoffa squad, and were handpicked for their loyalty to the Democratic Party and their opposition to Nixon.

The WSPF enjoyed all of the prosecutorial and investigative powers of the Department of Justice, yet answered to no one, with the possible exception of Senator Edward Kennedy of the Senate Judiciary Committee. WSPF was independent of review, as well as rules of conduct. In other words, they operated as their own judge, jury, and executioner. Effectively, they were the Get Nixon squad.

Rather than limit its investigations into the specific crime of burglary and wiretapping, they used the same tactics against Nixon and his people as they had used against organized crime figures. The methodology was simple: choose the suspect (Nixon, Haldeman, Ehrlichman, and Mitchell) and then use your unlimited budget, your team of 150 investigators, lawyers, and so on, to bring these suspects to justice.¹⁷

Early on, Judge John Sirica acted as though he were an inquisitor, refusing to accept plea bargains from E. Howard Hunt and the other Watergate defendants. He demanded that they plead guilty on each and every count. Then, when they did, he levied the maximum sentence of up to thirty-five years! For a first-time burglary offense, this was unheard of.

Sirica had a plan that in and of itself violated a slew of legal and ethical laws. He imposed his harsh sentence and added that the defendants must testify before Senate’s Ervin Committee, and if he felt that they were cooperating fully, the sentence could be reduced. This is an example of a judge coercing defendants to tell the truth. As noted by former House Judiciary Committee member Renata Adler, Judges, under the Constitution, are not meant to ascertain, least of all to prosecute or to coerce by sentencing, the ‘truth’ for the ‘American people’ or even the jury. … Far from demonstrating that ‘no man is above the law,’ it suggests that the judge himself is above the law. … We do not, under the Constitution, have a system wherein judges are inquisitors.¹⁸

One mustn’t give Judge Sirica sole credit for this heinous perversion of law, however. It turns out that the original idea for the extreme sentences came from the newly appointed chief counsel, Sam Dash. As with most of the participants in this Watergate persecution, he was all too ready to accept accolades of fame and fortune in his much-awaited autobiographical tell all book, Chief Counsel: Inside the Ervin Committee—The Untold Story of Watergate. Dash gives up a tasty bit of self-incrimination when he confesses that the problem of how to begin developing some cracks in the wall of silence which the Watergate burglars had constructed and maintained. … Some extraordinary tactic had to be employed to induce one or more of the burglars to start talking.

Geoff Shepard, in his book The Real Watergate Scandal, writes, Dash now had in mind a whole new objective: to use the possibility of future sentence reduction to encourage the defendants’ cooperation with a political investigation by the Senate that had no legal connection with the prosecution of them in the U.S. district court.

In March 1973, in a private ex parte meeting with Sirica, Dash made his point. Thereafter, Sirica handed down the unprecedented incarceration sentence to the Watergate burglars. If information about this meeting had come out at the time, the case, if not the resignation of Sirica and Dash possibly including disbarment, may have changed the entire outcome of the Watergate/Nixon prosecution.

John Dean: Witness for the Prosecution

In the annals of judicial history, John Dean rises to the top echelon of putrid snitches willing to say just about anything to save his neck while fingering the men he served with. Mr. Dean’s role as witness for the prosecution cannot be overstated. The entire case practically rested on his testimony. The importance of the fact that Dean’s version of events changed per the prosecutor’s needs and that he received special treatment cannot be overstated either. Here we go.

John Dean acted as Special Counsel to the President and coordinated the cover-up that was to eventually bring Nixon down. He was the tool that Sirica, the Ervin Committee, and the WSPF needed in their relentless and often illegal Get Nixon campaign. It’s ironic that Dean would be noted as the one man who took a stand against corruption in the White House, who named the perpetrators, and who ultimately put himself on the line to see that justice was carried out. In fact, Dean was one of the most involved perpetrators in the White House. He was the one who attended meetings with Watergate planner G. Gordon Liddy. He was the one to formulate a plan for a cover-up once the burglary was exposed. He ordered White House detective Tony Ulasewicz to case the Watergate weeks before the first break-in. He knew about the plans for the break-in before it happened. Yet he became the hero of Watergate, the prosecution’s golden boy, testifying against his codefendants, keeping himself out of prison, and enjoying an afterlife of bestselling books and lectures. In chapter 15 (Gemstone), I lay out many of Dean’s evil deeds, but there is also new evidence, some of it from Dean himself, that exonerates Nixon.

The obstruction of justice charge levied against Nixon arose from the conclusion that Nixon had ordered a payment of $75,000 (blackmail money) to E. Howard Hunt on March 21, 1973. This conclusion was drawn because on March 21, Dean had a meeting with Nixon, at which time he told the president for the first time about Hunt’s financial demands ($135,000) and that evening a $75,000 payment was made to Hunt’s attorney William Bittman. Ergo, the payment must have been ordered by Nixon, which amounted to obstruction of justice. It would have shown that Nixon was involved in a conspiracy. On the March 21 tape, Nixon is heard discussing the possibility of paying Hunt and having access to a million dollars.

Yet the truth of the matter is this: Dean learned of Hunt’s demand—it was actually $135,000: $75,000 to pay his attorney and $60,000 for family support, since Hunt was going to prison on March 24—from CRP attorney Paul O’Brien on Monday, March 19. Dean then informed CRP Special Assistant Fred LaRue of the demand on Tuesday, March 20, and added that LaRue should seek approval for the payment from Attorney General John Mitchell. LaRue called Mitchell and received approval for a payment of $75,000 for Hunt’s attorney. Later that night (Tuesday, March 20), La Rue made a $75,000 payment to Hunt’s attorney William Bittman.

In order for Nixon to have been involved in this, the payment would have had to have been made on Wednesday night, March 21, after the tape-recorded meeting where Dean tells the president for the first time about Hunt’s demands. But the problem is that Bittman and LaRue both recalled that the payment was made on Tuesday night, March 20, before the Dean/Nixon meeting the next day. The prosecutors needed LaRue and Dean to change their testimony to show that the payment had occurred on Wednesday, March 21, after Nixon learned of Hunt’s demands.¹⁹

It is important to note that Dean and LaRue differed not on the date of their conversation, but on the details. Dean recalled a face-to-face conversation with LaRue, while LaRue recalled the conversation as occurring over the phone. Still, the prosecutors went to work on Dean and LaRue. All they had to do was get them to blur their recollection of the date of the conversation. This was done in Ben-Veniste’s opening statement at the trial: Now, either that evening or on the morning of March 21, before the meeting with the President … Dean informed LaRue of the fact that Hunt was asking for this enormous sum of money.²⁰ From that point on, the prosecutors wouldn’t quibble with either Dean or LaRue over a specific date. The important thing was to implicate Nixon as having ordered the payment, and now this had been accomplished.

One little (but explosive) additional fact had been overlooked. Since the payment was only $75,000, LaRue must have gotten approval from Mitchell before Nixon was involved. Had approval been from Nixon, it would have been for the full amount Dean had told him: $135,000. Nixon would not have quibbled over a few thousand dollars—after all, he stated on the March 21 tape that he (Nixon) could get his hands on a million dollars.

Dean had been one of key prosecution witnesses, but in his new book, The Nixon Defense: What He Knew and When He Knew It (2014), he reveals a different view of Nixon. He affirms that there was no express intent by Nixon to break the law. He states that no one on the White House staff had any advance knowledge of the Watergate break-in. Possibly the most startling admission of Dean’s is that the infamous smoking gun tape from June 23, 1972, was completely misunderstood. This is the tape between Nixon and Haldeman where it appears that Nixon is discussing a way for Haldeman to use the CIA to shut down the FBI’s investigation. In fact, Dean admits, it was an attempt to keep the FBI from investigating anonymous campaign donors who wanted to keep their donations confidential. According to Geoff Shepard, certain key Democrats contributed to Nixon’s campaign. CRP converted those contributions into cash and some of that cash ended up in the pockets of some of the Watergate burglars. Nixon wanted the CIA to tell the FBI not to interview the two persons who acted as conduits for the Democratic donors. Nixon’s motivation was simply to keep their identities from becoming public.²¹

Dean was a slick operator and was never charged for the crimes that he did commit, like destroying evidence from Howard Hunt’s White House safe, which Hunt claimed would have exonerated him. That’s obstruction of justice and destruction of material evidence. The prosecutors were fully aware of this yet chose to overlook it. Had this information had been revealed, E. Howard Hunt may have had a much better chance.

Dean also perjured himself on numerous occasions. His testimony changed according to the needs of the prosecutors. A thirty-two-page White House report released on May 4, 1974, showed that Dean’s sworn testimony to the Ervin Committee differed drastically on nineteen points compared to the evidence recorded on the tapes. As if to verify matters, on February 6, 1974, Watergate Task Force attorney Peter Rient issued a three-page summary identifying sixteen material discrepancies in Dean’s testimony when compared to the tapes. Lead prosecutor Leon Jaworski (with full knowledge of Dean’s false testimony) still stated on February 14 that Dean had made no material misstatements in his testimony.²²

How did he get away with it? Dean made special deals with prosecutors in hopes of being granted immunity. Initially offering evidence against Attorney General John Mitchell and CRP Chief of Staff Jeb Magruder, Dean began accusing Haldeman and Ehrichman, then Colson, and finally Nixon. Dean was turning out to be a gold mine for the WSPF and Ervin Committee; I, however, choose to compare his actions to those of the accusers in the Salem witch hunts.

Dean eventually pleaded guilty to conspiracy to obstruct justice. Although he was sentenced to one to four years in prison, he never spent one day in prison or in jail. He was kept in a safe house, where he was made comfortable while he worked on his testimony.

With biased judges and prosecutors, secret ex parte meetings, the Get Nixon mentality of the WSPF, the media’s hatred of Nixon, the tainted jurors, and the changing testimony of Dean and LaRue, Nixon, Hunt, and the rest didn’t stand a chance.


1.   United States Constitution.

2.   Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, Wikipedia.

3.   United States Constitution.

4.   Guide to Judiciary Policy,

5.   Geoff Shepard, The Real Watergate Scandal.

6.   Ibid.

7.   Clark Mollenhoff, Game Plan for Disaster: An Ombudsman’s Report on the Nixon Years.

8.   John Sirica, To Set the Record Straight: The Break-in, the Tapes, the Conspirators, the Pardon.

9.   Samuel Dash, Chief Counsel: Inside the Ervin Committee—The Untold Story of Watergate.

10.   Defendants’ appeal brief.

11.   According to Ronald Carr, Bazelon’s law clerk.

12.   Jaworski notes at National Archives.

13.   Jaworski 12/27/73 letter to Judge Sirica.

14.   Memo between Jaworski and Lacovara.

15.   Jaworski 3/1/74 memo to file.

16.   Ibid.

17.   John A. Farrell, Tip O’ Neill and the Democratic Century.

18.   Renata Adler, Canaries in the Mineshaft: Essays on Politics and the Media.

19.   Geoff Shepard, The Real Watergate Scandal.

20.   Trial Transcripts, 2364.

21.   Geoff Shepard, The Real Watergate Scandal.

22.   2 Sides Warned on Dean Debate, Washington Star News, Feb. 15, 1974.



A man is not finished when he is defeated. He is finished when he quits.

—Richard Nixon¹

Istood in the rain at Nixon’s funeral. I was given a color-coded badge that assigned me to sit with the immediate family and friends. Forty-two thousand people filed past his casket.² The line had at one point been as long as three miles.³ As the shiny black hearse sped away, preceded by California Highway Patrol motorcycles, thousands more people thronged the streets in the rain to catch a glimpse of the casket containing one of the most powerful politicians of the twentieth century. I reflected on the Nixon I knew—or rather, the Nixon he wanted me to know, the Nixon he chose to show me: The Man in the Arena, as he would call it.

Nixon himself defined his career as the ultimate political warrior with a quote from a speech that Theodore Roosevelt gave on April 23, 1910, at the Sorbonne in Paris:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumphs of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.

Like the great politicians of his day, John and Robert Kennedy, and Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon had both a dark side and a light side. He achieved great things and sometimes used hardball tactics. He was a man of ideas married to an innate political pragmatism, coupled with the instincts of a survivor. He could be magnanimous as well as venal. This book seeks to illuminate both the light and dark sides of our thirty-seventh president.

As a veteran of eight national presidential campaigns, who cut his teeth with Nixon before going to work for perhaps the greatest president in my lifetime, Ronald Reagan, I have been the recipient of an enormous amount of political intelligence. I know how the game is played. This book will tell you what I think happened in Richard Nixon’s ultimate downfall and the method in which he got a pardon for crimes he may have committed in the scandal known as Watergate. I will make a compelling case that it was not White House Counsel John Dean who brought Nixon to ruin. Dean acts in his self-interest, and he is but the weasel of our narrative. Although Dean would significantly weaken Nixon, it was General Alexander M. Haig who greased the skids for Nixon through a series of purposeful blunders in Nixon’s handling of the legal, public, and political problem triggered by the Watergate break-in.

Before we can understand the rise and fall of Richard Nixon, we must first examine this complex and sometimes confusing man.

Few have had the opportunity to work for and befriend their boyhood hero as I have. I was drawn to Richard Nixon not because of his philosophy; he had none. It was his resilience and his indestructibility that attracted me. Flexibility is the first principle of politics, he would say.⁵ Nixon’s Lazarus-like rise from the political dead is a story of determination, perseverance, political cunning, timing, skill, and above all, discipline. This combined with a commitment to the drudgery and hard work of retail politics. Nixon’s physical and intellectual energy is often underestimated.

No matter how many electoral or political setbacks he suffered, Nixon persevered in his drive for the presidency. I myself had a tattoo of Richard Nixon inked on my back. It is the image of a floating head about the size of a grapefruit equidistant between my shoulder blades. I wear it as a reminder that no matter what life’s setbacks and disappointments are, one must always get up from the mat and fight again.

I am uniquely qualified to tell this tale. I am an admitted Nixon friend. He fascinates me still. He was the most durable public figure in the twentieth century. The idea of anyone having almost a fifty-year run in American politics is incredible. Nixon, like LBJ, JFK, and Eisenhower, was a giant. At Nixon’s funeral, Bob Dole would correctly call the 1950s to the 1980s the era of Nixon.

I was the Connecticut Chairman of Youth for Nixon during his 1968 campaign. I parlayed this august post into becoming a gofer for Nixon’s law partner, and later attorney general, John Mitchell, at the Miami Beach convention. I later worked in Nixon’s White House press shop as a volunteer cutting clippings for Mort Alin, an assistant to Nixon’s aide Patrick J. Buchanan. At age nineteen, other than those who worked in Young Voters for the President, I was the youngest staffer at the Committee to Re-elect the President (CRP). I reported to Herbert L. Bart Porter, who would later serve thirty days in jail for lying to the grand jury in the Watergate scandal. Porter, in turn, reported to CRP Campaign Director Jeb Stuart Magruder. I myself was called before the grand jury in the Watergate matter.

Although I worked on the campaign in 1968, I only shook Nixon’s hand once that year at a Party Unity luncheon at the National Republican Women’s Club in New York City. New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller, who had little use for Nixon, attended and embraced Nixon for the wire photographers. I would not shake Nixon’s hand again until 1972 when he toured the Committee to Re-elect the President headquarters in Washington where I worked.

It was not until 1977 that I got to know our thirty-seventh president on more intimate terms. When I was elected National Chairman of the Young Republican National Federation, the former president asked me to come west. He invited me to visit him in exile in San Clemente. Although scheduled for a thirty-minute meeting, we ended up talking presidential politics for four and half hours. It was the first time that I sharply and outwardly dis-agreed with his assertion that former Texas Governor John Connally, who had served in the Nixon cabinet as treasury secretary, would be a strong candidate for president. I made an effective case for Reagan as the 1980 nominee. Nixon was amused. He attempted to convince me to work in the presidential campaign of Connally. Connally’s camp had put forward an offer, transmitted by Connally Press Secretary Jim Brady and approved by Connally’s right-hand man Julian Read. It was a lot of money. Nixon overestimated the strength and potential of Connally and greatly underestimated Reagan. Nixon thought Ron was too old. After his near loss in ‘76, it’s clear Reagan is better positioned for the race than anyone else, I told Nixon. Connally would famously spend $11 million and win only one delegate.

Before long I was talking to the former president by telephone every Saturday morning. His hunger for political gossip was insatiable. He would begin every conversation by saying, So, what is the state of play? I began doing odd political chores such as passing messages or memos to members of Congress, evaluating speaking invitations, and checking out Republican prospects in various states and districts.

Charles McWhorter, who had first worked in Nixon’s vice presidential office, had an encyclopedic knowledge of Republican politics and a network of relationships across the GOP. After Nixon became president, McWhorter, who favored large and garish turquoise jewelry with his business suits, would become a lobbyist with AT&T while on permanent loan for Nixon. You know Charlie McWhorter? Nixon asked me. Charlie’s retiring, and I need someone to review invitations, check out certain political situations, and convey messages to party leaders and others. John Taylor [Nixon’s chief of staff] is a good man, but he’s not political, Nixon said. Would you lend us a hand? Of course, I said. I’d be delighted.

I saw Nixon up close. He was brilliant, devious, insightful, obtuse, determined, and sometimes less than truthful. Above all, he was disciplined and persistent. He never gave up fighting, first for the presidency and then for the legacy of that presidency.

Nixon’s Secrets is not a sanitized version of his political life, nor is it an attempt to rehabilitate his reputation. Don’t expect a whitewash of Nixon’s sins because no man is a hero to his valet. On balance, I conclude that Nixon’s greatness and his vision for a global political realignment to achieve world peace must be viewed as well as his numerous mistakes.

Rather I will show that Nixon engaged in politics the way politics were in the 1950s and 1960s. Johnson, Nixon, and Kennedy all had relations with organized crime. All three took campaign contributions that were illegal. All three engaged in break-ins to secure political intelligence. All three ordered the bugging of their opponents prior to election. Kennedy would make an unholy alliance with the Mob. Johnson would order the murder of as many as seventeen men to cover up his trail of corruption. He stole votes and participated in electoral fraud.

Nixon’s Secrets may prove that he was not the man you think he was. He was an excellent poker player, ringing up enough winnings while running a friendly game in the navy to bankroll his initial congressional campaign. He liked a drink or two, as we shall see. As the procurement officer for his naval battalion, his greatest talent was in acquiring alcohol at a makeshift hamburger stand, where he gave both hooch and grub away. He was immensely popular with his men.

Nixon, Kennedy, and Johnson would all stray from the marital bed, although the sexual appetites of JFK and his running mate were more voracious than Nixon’s. In fact, Nixon had a long-term discreet liaison with a courtesan in Hong Kong. She would move to Whittier, California, his hometown, after his election as president and visit him in the White House on at least three occasions. Nixon had sent her a bottle of Chanel No. 5 perfume and a note inviting her to visit him in the United States after their first encounter in Asia. The liaison was not Nixon’s only sexual indiscretion. Jackie Kennedy would tell playwright Tennessee Williams that Nixon made a pass at her in Washington one weekend when Nixon and Kennedy were both in the House and JFK was away campaigning.

Nixon’s advance man John Ehrlichman would remember an inebriated Nixon making clumsy passes at girls in his suite when Nixon invited friends to celebrate his successful 1964 introduction of the nominee Barry Goldwater to the Republican ticket.

I seek to put Nixon in the context of his times. It’s a warts-and-all story of a bare-knuckled brand of politics that Nixon and every other contender in the 1960s played. Crucial to Nixon’s comeback were the tumultuous events of the sixties, which created the vacuum he would fill. As Oliver Stone so pointedly said in his movie Nixon, the death of John and Robert Kennedy, Vietnam, the unrest on US campuses and in America’s urban centers, a white backlash, and the lack of law and order created a dynamic that made the return of Richard Nixon to power possible.

Throughout the 1960s, considering himself ready to be president, Nixon had little interest in the ideas of others. He worked a room like the political pro he was, memorizing names and details of the families of those he needed support from so he could make polite inquiries and mask his acute discomfort with small talk. Voracious in his appetite for gossip, he collected information on the sexual misconduct of his political allies and enemies alike, and his private conversation was laced with ethnic slurs and profanity. Nixon was perpetually in the process of self-examination.

By the 1970s, Nixon was interested in meeting a new generation of journalists who had not covered Watergate. I arranged a series of private off-the-record dinners that included the New York Times’s Howell Raines and Gerry Boyd, the Chicago Tribune’s Steve Neal, David Hoffman of the Washington Post, Susan Page of Newsday, Paul West of the Dallas Times Herald, Michael Kramer of New York Magazine, and Sidney Blumenthal, then of the New Republic, and others. Nixon would mesmerize the young reporters with his vast knowledge of international geopolitics. The dinners focused on international issues and foreign policy, and no questions from the reporters were barred. The old man would raid his wine cellar for the best vintages for his guests from the fifth estate. There was no discussion of Watergate at these intimate dinners; instead Nixon held forth on the state of Sino-Soviet and American relations and entertained questions.

Richard Nixon was proud of his martini-making skills. He called them silver bullets. After two martinis Nixon would be drunk. He had a low tolerance for alcohol. A drunken Nixon was a loquacious Nixon.

Here is Nixon’s recipe, which he told me was given to him by Winston Churchill:

Obtain a bottle of large-sized olives.

Drain the juice.

Fill the olive bottle with Vermouth.

Refrigerate the bottle until cold.

Put three fingers of gin or vodka over ice in a silver martini shaker.

Shake vigorously until shards of ice permeate the alcohol.

Pour in a chilled martini glass. Drop in one olive from the jar.

Nixon was a loner with a tendency to retreat deeper into a mystic shell. Although his low tolerance for alcohol has been noted, Nixon would drink heavily, which seemed to lighten his lost moods. A Nixon aide said that the vice president let down his cold guard of grimness and glacial determination when he was drinking with friends. We order extra dry Gibson’s with Nixon darkly muttering; ‘it was a great mistake.’ Then a second round. Then RN, having relaxed enthusiastically, briskly demanded a third. His inhibitions and fears apparently gone. Then a sound California Inglenook white pinot, oysters and baked Pompano. Venturing out in Nixon’s vice presidential limousine, the vice president would cruise to a tavern called Martins in Georgetown where he would first coif great drafts of beer followed by scotch. Nixon would put down two scotches fast followed by corned beef and cabbage.

I have sifted out the party line, the so-called official version of events, to talk about Nixon, the man, and the deep-seated resentment and ambition that drove him for fifty-six years, including six years in the wilderness, when his prospects looked bleak at best. We will look at his meticulous preparation, his early understanding of mass media and the need for both message and image manipulation, as well as the opponents he slashed, rivals he pummeled, and corners he cut to seize his dream of the White House. In short, we will examine the underside of Richard Milhous Nixon.


1.   Nick Thimmesch, Nixon: A Man Is Not Finished When He Is Defeated. Sarasota Herald-Tribune, December 11, 1978.

2.   Anthony Summers, The Arrogance of Power, x.

3.   Ibid.

4.   Suzanne Clark, Cold Warriors: Manliness on Trial in the Rhetoric of the West, p. 59.

5.   Otis L. Graham, Toward a Planned Society: From Roosevelt to Nixon, p. 1892.

6.   John Ehrlichman, Witness to Power: The Nixon Years, p. 34.

7.   Anthony Summers, The Arrogance of Power, p. 144.



Crucial to Nixon’s comeback were the tumultuous events of the 1960s, which created the vacuum he would fill. Nixon created a dynamic that made the return of Richard Nixon to power possible. To his credit, Nixon was well prepared when this vacuum occurred. A meticulous brooder, given to enormous self-analysis, Nixon had carefully promoted his public image and had used his stature as a former vice president and foreign policy expert to stay in the public eye. At the same time, he clearly saw the need for a New Nixon, better press relations, and an entirely different manner of communicating to American voters.

Above all, Nixon was extraordinarily disciplined, while at the same time stiff, formal, and seemingly uncomfortable in his own skin. His appetite for hard work was extraordinary. He paid careful attention to what he ate, opting for a healthy diet long before that became popular. He had a solemn rule of eating only half of whatever was on his plate. He exercised religiously and essentially kept the same weight from the time he was forty-five years old until his death. His chief of staff H. R. Bob Haldeman would call Nixon’s discipline unnatural. Although he hated campaigning, he did it with gusto and focus, carefully honing his words and messages and fencing with the press. From 1952 until 1969, he traveled literally millions of miles on the road on behalf of Republican causes and candidates. Nixon would spend more than 250 days a year on the road carefully tending the party gardens and garnering IOUs.

While he famously listened to Victory at Sea and Richard Rodgers, Nixon would also have classical music piped in to his New York study and later the White House, which he would listen to while reading. He smoked a pipe. He had an extensive knowledge of wine and an excellent cellar. He wore reading glasses but was virtually never photographed in them. This of course does not fit the common perception of him as a middle-class boob of pedestrian tastes, a man JFK said had no class.

Also, while many thought Nixon had ice water in his veins, he could show what one aide would call a subliminal sentimental streak. Nixon aide James Bassett remembered meeting Nixon for lunch on the Upper East Side. Nixon was carrying a wrapped package. It’s a doll, he said.

For Julie and Tricia? Bassett asked.

Nixon frowned. No, it is actually for a little crippled kid I read about in the paper this morning. She is in a charity hospital. It said she wanted a doll. So I am going to drop this off after we are finished. Bassett noted that it would be a good story for the press. If you leak this to the newspaper, he said, I will cut your balls off.¹

* * *

Ironically, it was Nixon’s deep secrets that would plant the seeds of his downfall and provide the leverage to avoid federal prosecution and jail. The terrible secrets of Richard Nixon not only guaranteed his tumble from supreme power, but also would assure his own survival and lay the groundwork for his final public rehabilitation, which reached its zenith at the time of his death.

Twenty years after his death, the public remains fascinated with Richard Milhous Nixon. His mawkish and uncomfortable mannerisms and political persistence generated the pop culture persona of the most durable American political leader of the last third of the century. Nixon’s extreme features, heavy jowls, and stiff manner made him a magnet for caricature and satire at the hands of the counterculture. Head shops featured black-light posters of Nixon and Agnew depicted as Hells Angels bikers. Nixon bongs and pipes were readily available. One outfit in San Francisco even produced Tricky Dick rolling papers. Impressionists David Frey, Rich Little, and Randy Credico would imitate the thirty-seventh president. His dark eyebrows, five-o’clock shadow, and V for victory sign were all parts of a public persona of Nixon reflected in the brutal cartoons of the Washington Post’s Herblock. Here he comes, a party chieftain said in one iconic Herblock cartoon which depicted Nixon climbing out of a manhole from the sewer.

Yet, Nixon had what all truly successful politicians had: the gift of charisma. As a young man, his black-Irish coloring and intense eyes made him handsome despite his oversized head and ski-jump nose that would later serve cartoonists so well. As Nixon matured, his features changed. As his hairline receded, the Nixonian widow’s peak became more pronounced. His face was darkly lined and jowly. Somehow these changes made Nixon more, not less, compelling. Even as Nixon’s face aged, his smile remained sunny and dazzling, in contrast to his otherwise stern manner. His staff and peers found his presence utterly commanding.

Nixon was a man of contradictions, both great and flawed, both good and bad. He had the loftiest of ideals, but sometimes used the shabbiest of methods. He was a loner, a striver. He could be transparent or opaque in his motives. He could be amazingly blunt or quite equally duplicitous. He could be both perceptive and naive. When he asked me why a former high-level Eisenhower administration official who had often escorted Rose Mary Woods had never married her and I told him the gentleman was gay, he was shocked.

In his book, Don Fulsom, who claims that Nixon was gay and that he and Bebe Rebozo were lovers, is wide of the mark. The charge is false. I saw Nixon’s reaction when I told him one of his aides who wore flamboyant jewelry was gay. He was stunned.

Richard Nixon could be quite naïve.

In the late 1950s, the US State Department made jazz legend Louis Armstrong a Goodwill Ambassador and underwrote a concert tour in Europe and Asia. On his return from the first two tours, Armstrong and his entourage were waived through customs without a search based on Satchmo’s ambassadorial status, but when he landed at Idlewild Airport in New York in 1958, he was directed toward the customs lines. Customs agents had been tipped off that contraband was being imported into the country. Armstrong joined a long line of travelers lined up for inspections. Unfortunately, the jazz trumpeter was carrying three pounds of marijuana in his suitcase. Once Armstrong realized he was about to be busted and would bring shame on the country he was traveling on behalf of, he began sweating profusely.

Just then the doors swung open and Vice President Richard Nixon, in step with his security detail, swept in the room followed by a gaggle of reporters and photographers. Nixon, seeing an opportunity for a wire-photo with Armstrong, went up to the jazz man. Satchmo, what are you doing here? a surprised Nixon asked.

Well, Pops (Armstrong called everyone Pops), I just came back from my goodwill ambassador’s tour of Asia and they told me I had to stand in this line for customs.

Without hesitation, Nixon grabbed both of Satchmo’s suitcases. Ambassadors don’t have to go through customs and the Vice President of the United States will gladly carry your bags for you, Nixon said. Whereupon The vice president muled three pounds of pot through United States Customs without ever knowing it.

When Nixon was told what happened by Charles McWhorter, who served as a traveling aide to Nixon (who heard the tale from one of the jazz musicians traveling with Satchmo), a startled Nixon exclaimed, Louie smokes marijuana?²

Upon the jazz legend’s death in 1971, President Nixon recognized Satchmo’s incomparable contribution to Americana and his creative individuality. One of the architects of an American art form, a free and individual spirit, and an artist of worldwide fame, his great talents and magnificent spirit added richness and pleasure to all our lives, President Nixon said.

Nixon had a passion for secrecy and compartmentalizing his dealings. He could play twenty different hands of political poker with none of the other players aware that there were other games going on or who was playing or being played.

No one knew everything about Nixon. His own campaign manager and advisor, Attorney General John Mitchell did not know that Nixon, as vice president, had approved a CIA alliance with organized crime to assassinate Fidel Castro until 1971, three years after Nixon was elected president. This alliance, known as Operation 40, would morph into the Kennedy assassination. Nixon was familiar with many of the CIA operatives involved. The assassination stemmed from the CIA’s deep hatred of John Kennedy in the wake of the Bay of Pigs fiasco.

Nixon was a shrewd judge of his adversaries and ever-shifting allies.

He was in awe of Jack Kennedy but said LBJ was an animal,³ Gerald Ford was a dumb-shit,⁴ Ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy, who helped fund Nixon’s election to the US Senate, a crook, called Bobby Kennedy a little SOB,⁵ and said Teddy Kennedy was the best politician in the family,⁶ all the while searching for dirt to use to end Teddy’s career. He said Nancy Reagan was a bitch⁷ and that Ronald Reagan made it look easy.

Particularly, his appetite for work both physical and intellectual was prodigious, but both were less than his love of intrigue, intelligence, and gossip. His appetite for political intelligence was voracious. I carried memos to the White House and an endless stream of verbal messages to senators, governors, and congressmen. Having served as