Fred Thompson: Nixon's mole during Watergate hearings

Southpaw

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Jan 12, 2005
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Not all would put a heroic sheen on Thompson's Watergate role
By Michael Kranish, Globe Staff | July 4, 2007

WASHINGTON -- The day before Senate Watergate Committee minority counsel Fred Thompson made the inquiry that launched him into the national spotlight -- asking an aide to President Nixon whether there was a White House taping system -- he telephoned Nixon's lawyer.

Thompson tipped off the White House that the committee knew about the taping system and would be making the information public. In his all-but-forgotten Watergate memoir, "At That Point in Time," Thompson said he acted with "no authority" in divulging the committee's knowledge of the tapes, which provided the evidence that led to Nixon's resignation. It was one of many Thompson leaks to the Nixon team, according to a former investigator for Democrats on the committee, Scott Armstrong , who remains upset at Thompson's actions.

"Thompson was a mole for the White House," Armstrong said in an interview. "Fred was working hammer and tong to defeat the investigation of finding out what happened to authorize Watergate and find out what the role of the president was."

. . .

Thompson was a little-known assistant US attorney in Tennessee when the Watergate investigation in Congress got underway. He had served as campaign manager for the successful 1972 reelection of Senator Howard Baker, a powerful Tennessee Republican.

When the Senate Watergate Committee was established in 1973, Baker became the ranking Republican member and brought Thompson to Washington to serve as minority counsel. Baker, who has been among those now urging Thompson to seek the presidency, did not return a call seeking comment.

John Dean , Nixon's former White House counsel, who was a central witness at the hearings, said he believed that Baker and Thompson were anything but impartial players. "I knew that Thompson would be Baker's man, trying to protect Nixon," Dean said in an interview.

The website of Thompson's presidential exploratory committee, imwithfred.com, suggests that Thompson helped reveal the taping system and expose Nixon's role in the Watergate coverup. And while Thompson's question to presidential aide Alexander Butterfield during a Watergate hearing unveiled the existence of the taping system to the outside world, it wasn't Thompson who discovered that Nixon was taping conversations. Nor was Thompson the first to question Butterfield about the possibility.

On July 13, 1973, Armstrong, the Democratic staffer, asked Butterfield a series of questions during a private session that led up to the revelation. He then turned the questioning over to a Republican staffer, Don Sanders, who asked Butterfield the question that led to the mention of the taping system.

To the astonishment of everyone in the room, Butterfield admitted the taping system existed.

When Thompson learned of Butterfield's admission, he leaked the revelation to Nixon's counsel, J. Fred Buzhardt .

"Even though I had no authority to act for the committee, I decided to call Fred Buzhardt at home" to tell him that the committee had learned about the taping system, Thompson wrote. "I wanted to be sure that the White House was fully aware of what was to be disclosed so that it could take appropriate action."

http://www.boston.com/news/nation/w...oic_sheen_on_thompsons_watergate_role?mode=PF
 

MJMANDALAY

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Jan 26, 2005
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#3
Im confused, so Fred try to help his friends out?
 

KingTheoden84

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Jun 9, 2007
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Im confused, so Fred try to help his friends out?
I think the crux of the story is that ol' Fred improperly gave information to the very people he was supposed to be investigating. I do not think it was illegal (at least not at the time), but it was clearly a breech of conduct. Moreover, one has to wonder even more about his 'conservative' credentials if he was pals with the Nixon administration, you know, the one that gave us price controls, the FEC, the ABM Treaty, Affirmative Action, the war on drugs, opening our anus for China to pound, etc. etc.