Nixon Defense Team

September 25, 2007

While Nixon's lieutenants were being indicted and swept away by Watergate, a new group of lawyers was rapidly assembled to defend the President against the Ervin Committee, the Special Prosecutor, impeachment and the increasing hostility of the American public. Leonard Garment' replaced John Dean as the President's counsel on April 30, 1973. He had been a partner in Nixon's law firm from 1949 until 1969 as head of the litigation section. His main 1968 campaign function was to help Nixon develop an acceptable image and to protect him from the scrutiny of the press. In an effort to keep the 1968 campaign headquartered in the law firm, Garment was also responsible for getting John Mitchell involved in his first political campaign. In 1969 he joined the White House staff as a special advisor on civil rights and the arts as part of an attempt to project a liberal image. However he was not well received by minority groups, particularly after it was reported during the campaign that when discussing the role of minority groups he once asked, "Are they really part of the political process?" Backing up Nixon's former law partner on the defense team is J. Fred Buzhardt, Jr. 2 a West Point Graduate from McCormick, South Carolina who turned down a military career to become a lawyer in his father's and Senator Strom Thurmond's law firm. In 1962 he went to Washington as an aide to Thurmond's administrative assistant, Harry Dent. A former Thurmond aide has described Buzhardt as "an extremist of the worst order.. . a very decent individual, [but] a man with a very vivid imagination about all kinds of conspiracies." When Thurmond led a fight against admitting Hawaii to statehood, it was Buzhardt who developed the "racial arguments." In 1969 he went to the Department of Defense as special assistant to the assistant Secretary of Defense, but quickly ascended to the position of General Counsel for Department of Defense. In that position, he defended earlier Nixon/Watergate-type activities on several occasions-once in 1971 Buzhardt argued than an Ervin committee investigating military intelligence gathering in the U.S. could not have access to several generals since the Pentagon was already investigating the spying activities and the generals testimony before a Senate committee would interfere. Then in 1973, during the Pentagon Papers trial, it was discovered that exculpatory evidence in the form of a Pentagon study of the Papers was being withheld from the defense on Buzhardt's order. The study helped to show that the Papers were not damaging to the country's security. The other major member of the Nixon defense team is a Texas law professor-Charles Alan Wright 3 -who describes himself as a conservative and Nixon admirer. He proudly claims that he only takes cases to which he is committed. His cases include appearances before the Supreme Court to argue against the 18-year-old vote and for capital punishment. Wright was also called in to defend Howard Hughes' Air West in a $180 million mismanagement suit filed by TWA. In 1973, after eleven years of litigation, Wright got the decision reversed for Hughes in the Supreme Court on a technicality. Wright has high praise for Nixon's participation in the Hiss case as a model of how a lawyer and a congressman can investigate Communism without threatening civil liberties. One of the lesser known lawyers who advised Nixon on Watergate is H. Chapman Rose 4 of the powerful Cleveland law firm Jones, Day, Cockley & Reavis. After an Easterday meeting at Key Biscayne, Rose, a tax specialist, was called in to prepare Nixon's defense against charges of personal financial gains while occupying the White House. Rose served in the Eisenhower administration as Assistant and Undersecretary of Treasury. Rose and the law firm are heavily involved in Cleveland's political and financial apparatus serving as lawyers and as directors for many of the Hanna Mining interests. Rose himself is on the board of directors of Lear-Siegler, Aeronca and Cleveland Trust Company. He and his law partners also contributed financially to Nixon's campaigns. His son, Jonathan C. Rose, a U.S. Army ntelligence officer, served his two year tour in the White House as an aide to Peter Flanigan, where his assignment was to lobby against Ralph Nader's consumer proposals. Sources: Lou Sempliner 1. Washington Post, May 1, 1973; The Making of the President 1968, by Theodore White (Atheneum, 1969). 2. Miami Herald, July 8, 1973. 3. New York Times, September 9, 1973. 4.Parade, June 13, 1971;New York Times, August 21, 1973.

Tags: Richard Nixon, Watergate, defense lawyers

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