April 10, 2007

Fred Thompson's Watergate

Answer: “a Tennessee lawyer with brass balls”

Question: How did Howard Baker describe the then-unknown Fred Thompson to Richard Nixon prior to the beginning of the Watergate hearings?
Fred Thompson, the next President of the US, might have been unknown to the nation, but fellow Tennessean Howard Baker had certainly heard of Fred's cojones. As it turned out, Fred the real lawyer got to ask the question that sealed Richard Nixon's fate. The existence of tape recordings made with Nixon's White House bugging devices was made public. From the Watergate hearings transcripts via CNN:
In July of 1973, Fred Thompson, then a Republican attorney for the Senate Watergate committee, (and now a Republican senator from Tennessee), called on a surprise witness, Alexander Butterfield. Butterfield was a former aide to White House chief of staff H.R. Haldeman. The exchange:

Thompson: "Mr. Butterfield, are you aware of the installation of any listening devices in the Oval Office of the President?"

Butterfield: "I was aware of listening devices, yes sir.
At that point, nothing short of an immediate tape bonfire in the Rose Garden could have saved Nixon from disgrace. I supported Nixon, but what the tapes revealed changed that. Perhaps Iowa's Wiley Mayne stuck by Dirty Dick longer than I did, but not by much. Nice work, Fred.
Update: Fred Thompson was diagnosed with indolent lymphoma (a form of cancer) a few years ago. According to what the old feeder has heard so far, the disease is not one of the really nasty cancers and Fred's case is in remission. It shouldn't be a big problem, but tongues will wag.

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