Richard Kleindienst

Richard Kleindienst


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Richard Gordon Kleindienst was born in Winslow, Arizona, on 5th August, 1923.

During the Second World War Kleindienst served in the United States Army Air Corps. After leaving the service in 1946 he attended Harvard College and Harvard Law School.

A member of the Republican Party, Kleindienst served in the Arizona House of Representatives (1953-54). In 1964, he was the unsuccessful Republican candidate for Governor of Arizona.

Kleindienst supported Richard Nixon in his successful bid to become president in 1968. He held the post for three years and was promoted to Attorney General on 12th June, 1972. Five days later, Frank Sturgis, Virgilio Gonzalez, Eugenio Martinez, Bernard L. Barker and James W. McCord were arrested while in the Democratic Party headquarters in Watergate.

The day after the break-in, Kleindienst was told by G. Gordon Liddy that the operation had originated in the White House and that he should arrange the release of the burglars. Kleindienst refused to free the men, but failed to report Liddy's confession.

The phone number of E. Howard Hunt was found in address books of the burglars. Reporters were now able to link the break-in to the White House. Bob Woodward, a reporter working for the Washington Post was told by a friend who was employed by the government, that senior aides of President Richard Nixon, had paid the burglars to obtain information about its political opponents.

In 1972 Richard Nixon was once again selected as the Republican presidential candidate. On 7th November, Nixon easily won the the election with 61 per cent of the popular vote. Soon after the election reports by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of the Washington Post, began to claim that some of Nixon's top officials were involved in organizing the Watergate break-in.

Frederick LaRue now decided that it would be necessary to pay the large sums of money to secure their silence. LaRue raised $300,000 in hush money. Anthony Ulasewicz, a former New York policeman, was given the task of arranging the payments.

Hugh Sloan, testified that LaRue told him that he would have to commit perjury in order to protect the conspirators. LaRue was arrested and eventually found guilty of conspiring to obstruct justice. He was sentenced to three years in jail but only served four months before being released.

In January, 1973, Frank Sturgis, E. Howard Hunt, Virgilio Gonzalez, Eugenio Martinez, Bernard L. Barker, Gordon Liddy and James W. McCord were convicted of conspiracy, burglary and wiretapping.

Richard Nixon continued to insist that he knew nothing about the case or the payment of "hush-money" to the burglars. However, in April 1973, Nixon forced two of his principal advisers H. R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman, to resign. Kleindienst also resigned on the same day. A third adviser, John Dean, refused to go and was sacked. On 20th April, Dean issued a statement making it clear that he was unwilling to be a "scapegoat in the Watergate case".

On 7th February, 1973, the Senate voted to create a Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities. Sam Ervin was appointed chairman of this committee. Inouyre, along with Howard Baker, Herman Talmadge, Edward Gurney, Joseph Montoya and Lowell Weicker. Hearings took place between 17th May to 7th August and 24th September to 15th November.

On 18th May, 1973, Attorney General Elliot Richardson appointed Archibald Cox as special prosecutor, with unprecedented authority and independence to investigate the alleged Watergate cover-up and illegal activity in the 1972 presidential campaign.

The following month John Dean testified that at a meeting with Richard Nixon on 15th April, the president had remarked that he had probably been foolish to have discussed his attempts to get clemency for E. Howard Hunt with Charles Colson. Dean concluded from this that Nixon's office might be bugged. On Friday, 13th July, Alexander P. Butterfield appeared before the committee and was asked about if he knew whether Nixon was recording meetings he was having in the White House. Butterfield reluctantly admitted details of the tape system which monitored Nixon's conversations.

Alexander P. Butterfield also said that he knew "it was probably the one thing that the President would not want revealed". This information did indeed interest Archibald Cox and he demanded that Richard Nixon hand over the White House tapes. Nixon refused and so Cox appealed to the Supreme Court.

On 20th October, 1973, Nixon ordered his Attorney-General, Elliot Richardson, to fire Archibald Cox. Richardson refused and resigned in protest. Nixon then ordered the deputy Attorney-General, William Ruckelshaus, to fire Cox. Ruckelshaus also refused and he was sacked. Eventually, Robert Bork, the Solicitor-General, fired Cox.

An estimated 450,000 telegrams went sent to Richard Nixon protesting against his decision to remove Cox. The heads of 17 law colleges now called for Nixon's impeachment. Nixon was unable to resist the pressure and on 23rd October he agreed to comply with the subpoena and began releasing some of the tapes. The following month a gap of over 18 minutes was discovered on the tape of the conversation between Nixon and H. Haldemanon June 20, 1972. Nixon's secretary, Rose Mary Woods, denied deliberately erasing the tape. It was now clear that Nixon had been involved in the cover-up and members of the Senate began to call for his impeachment.

Peter Rodino, who was chairman of the Judiciary Committee, presided over the impeachment proceedings against Nixon. The hearings opened in May 1974. The committee had to vote on five articles of impeachment and it was thought that members would split on party lines. However, on the three main charges - obstructing justice, abuse of power and withholding evidence, the majority of Republicans voted with the Democrats.

Two weeks later three senior Republican congressmen, Barry Goldwater, Hugh Scott, John Rhodes visited Richard Nixon to tell him that they were going to vote for his impeachment. Nixon, convinced that he will lose the vote, decided to resign as president of the United States.

Kleindienst was convicted of a misdemeanor for perjury during his testimony in the Senate during his confirmation hearings. He was fined and given a suspended jail sentence.

Richard Kleindienst died of lung cancer on 3rd February, 2000.

. Namebase: Richard Kleindienst

The 10:00 A.M., June 20, meeting was held in Ehrlichman's office the one in which he'd produced Admiral Welander's confession six months earlier-and was attended by Haldeman, Mitchell, Kleindienst, and Dean. The first subject, as always, was leaks. How had the information about McCord and Hunt gotten out? Kleindienst assured the men that it had not come from justice, but from the Metropolitan Police Department.

Dean maintained a deep silence, and the other men were completely in the dark about the events, so there wasn't much to discuss. Haldeman and Ehrlichman harbored doubts about Mitchell's role in the break-in, but, according to Haldeman's memoir, though the meeting produced no new information he was glad to see that Mitchell "looked better than I had seen him in days. He puffed on his pipe with that humorous glint in his eye that we all knew so well. I felt that was a good sign because Mitchell was now the Chairman of CRP, and should have been worried if there was a major crisis impending. Instead, he said, `I don't know anything about that foolishness at the DNC. I do know I didn't approve the stupid thing.' We believed him-and that lightened our mood considerably."

Dean left that meeting in the company of Kleindienst, and returned to justice with the attorney general. Kleindienst was furious about the break-in and about Liddy's approach to him at Burning Tree. Dean said nothing about his role in those events. When they reached the Justice building and the two men were joined by Henry Petersen, the assistant attorney general in charge of the criminal division, Dean's motive for making the trip became clear: He wanted the FBI 302s, the investigative reports prepared by the field agents. Dean invoked Nixon's name to get them.

"The representation that he (Dean) made to me and to Mr. Petersen throughout was that he was doing this for the President of the United States and that he was reporting directly to the President," Kleindienst later testified. Kleindienst and Petersen quite properly refused to give up the 302s, which were raw data, and said they would only supply summaries of the data. The attorney general added that if the president wanted to see the reports, he would take them to Nixon himself. Dean left, empty-handed.

Meanwhile, back at the White House, Haldeman was reporting to Nixon what had happened in the ten o'clock meeting - but the exact particulars of that conversation will never be known, because that's the tape in which there is the infamous eighteen-and-a-half-minute gap. A new notion on how that gap came into being will be offered in a later chapter, but at this point in the narrative we can suggest some of what was covered in the meeting, based on the memoirs of both participants. According to both men, Nixon's main interest was in the Hunt-Colson connection. He had learned from Colson that Hunt had been involved in the Bay of Pigs operation, and that gave him an idea. As he remembered in RN, Nixon told Haldeman that the way to play the break-in was to say it had been a Cuban operation, perhaps designed ' to learn how the Democrats were going to view Castro in the coming election; that would stir the anti-Castro community in Miami "to start - a public bail fund for their arrested countrymen and make a big media issue out of it." This would damage the Democrats and at the same time turn the Watergate affair into something favorable to the White House.

This reaction was vintage Richard Nixon. Watergate would become simply another battle in his lifelong war with the Democrats. Floundering in ignorance as to how the affair had begun, and instead of attempting to solve the crime, Nixon was busy calculating how he might use it to strike at his enemies. Among the hallmarks of Nixon's personality were a penchant for turning away from facts and continual attempts to transform problems for himself into problems for his opposition...

Haldeman's June 23 meeting with the president ended at 11:39 A.M., and he immediately arranged a meeting between Walters, Helms, himself, and Ehrlichman for 1:30 p.m. Moments before that meeting, Haldeman poked his head in again to the Oval Office, and Nixon reemphasized the way to get the CIA to cooperate. Tell the CIA officials, Nixon instructed, "it's going to make the ... CIA look bad, it's going to make Hunt look bad, and it's likely to blow the whole Bay of Pigs thing, which we think would be very unfortunate for the CIA and for the country at this time, and for American foreign policy... I don't want them to get any ideas we're doing it because our concern is political." Haldeman answered that he understood that instruction.

Haldeman was once again impressed, he writes, by Nixon's brilliant instincts. "Dean had suggested a blatant political move by calling in the CIA-now Nixon showed how much more astute he was by throwing a national security blanket over the same suggestion."

At 1:30, in Ehrlichman's office, the four men sat down. All the participants knew that Helms disliked Nixon and the feeling was mutual. But now Nixon had been maneuvered into believing he had a need to use Helms and his agency. The director began the conversatior by surprising Haldeman with the news that he had already spoken t( Gray at the FBI and had told him that there was no CIA involvement, in the break-in and none of the suspects had worked for the Agency ic the last two years. After Helms's surprise, Haldeman then played what he called "Nixon's trump card," telling the CIA men that the entire affair might be linked to the Bay of Pigs.

"Turmoil in the room," Haldeman reported later in his book "Helms gripping the arms of his chair, leaning forward and shouting `The Bay of Pigs had nothing to do with this. I have no concern about the Bay of Pigs.' "

Haldeman understood that Nixon had been right about mentioning, the old disaster, for Helms immediately calmed down and voiced some further objections to having Walters tell Gray to back off. Ehrlichman' remembrance of the meeting closely parallels Haldeman's. Just a important is the fact that neither man mentioned in his memoir telling the CIA chiefs that the reason for asking them to block the FBI was political; following Nixon's rather precise instructions, that notion was specifically kept out of the conversation.

At 2:20 P.M. Haldeman went back to the Oval Office and informed Nixon that "Helms kind of got the picture" and had promised, "`We'll be happy to be helpful, to ah-you know-and we'll handle everything you want.' " Haldeman then added: "Walters is gonna make the call to Gray." The CIA men agreed to help, Helms would later testify, only because they figured the president was privy to a CIA operation in Mexico that even the CIA director did not know about. "This possibility always had to exist," Helms said. "Nobody knows everything about everything."

Dean apparently had an idea about what was going on, for at 1:35 that afternoon-before Haldeman actually had had a chance to brief the president on the Helms meeting - Pat Gray got a call from Dean apprising him that Walters would be phoning for an appointment, and that Gray should see him that afternoon. Waiters' secretary called Gray twenty minutes later and scheduled a 2:30 p.m. meeting. Dean phoned Gray again at 2:19 p.m. to see if it was on, learned that it was, and asked Gray to call him when he'd seen Walters.

Once again, John Dean's testimony on these events is strikingly at odds with that of others. In his testimony to the Senate Watergate committee, before the committee was to hear from Gray about the Gray-Dean telephone conversations of June 23, Dean would first avoid revealing any knowledge of the Helms-Walters meeting. Then, when pressed by Senator Inouye, Dean claimed that he had "had no idea that Mr. Haldeman and Mr. Ehrlichman were going to meet with Mr. Helms and General Walters, that was unknown to me until I subsequently was so informed by Mr. Ehrlichman but not as to the substance of the meeting they had held."

Gray and Walters met at 2:34 p.m. at FBI headquarters, and, according to Gray's testimony before Congress, Walters "informed me that we were likely to uncover some CIA assets or sources if we continued our investigation into the Mexican money chain.... He also discussed with me the agency agreement under which the FBI and CIA have agreed not to uncover and expose each other's sources." Acting Director Gray had never read that agreement, but considered it logical, and told Walters that the matter would be handled "in a manner that would not hamper the CIA."

President Nixon, after accepting the resignations of four of his closest aides, told the American people last night that he accepted full responsibility for the actions of his subordinates in the Watergate scandal.

"There can be no whitewash at the White House," Mr. Nixon declared in a special television address to the nation. He pledged to take steps to purge the American political system of the kind of abuses that emerged in the Watergate affair.

The President took his case to the country some 10 hours after announcing that he had accepted the resignations of his chief White House advisers, H.R. Haldeman and John D. Ehrlichman, along with Attorney General Richard G. Kleindienst.

He also announced that he had fired his counsel, John W. Dean III, who was by the ironies of the political process a casualty of the very scandal the President had charged him to investigate.

The dramatic news of the dismantling of the White House command staff that served Mr. Nixon through his first four years in the presidency was the most devastating impact that the Watergate scandal has yet made on the administration.


Early life and career [ edit | edit source ]

He was born August 5, 1923, in Winslow, Arizona, the son of Gladys (Love) and Alfred R. Kleindienst. Ώ] He served in the United States Army Air Corps from 1943 to 1946, and attended Harvard College and Harvard Law School, graduating from the latter in 1950. ΐ]

From 1953 to 1954, he served in the Arizona House of Representatives he followed that with some 15 years of private legal practice. Α] He concurrently was Arizona Republican Party chairman from 1956 to 1960 and 1961 to 1963, and in 1964, the Republican candidate for Governor of Arizona, losing the general election to Sam Goddard, 53%-47%.


Watergate burglars arrested

In the early morning of June 17, 1972, five men are arrested for breaking into the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate, an office-hotel-apartment complex in Washington, D.C. In their possession were burglary tools, cameras and film, and three pen-size tear gas guns. At the scene of the crime, and in rooms the men rented at the Watergate, sophisticated electronic bugging equipment was found. Three of the men were Cuban exiles, one was a Cuban American, and the fifth was James W. McCord, Jr., a former CIA agent. That day, the suspects, who said they were 𠇊nti-communists,” were charged with felonious burglary and possession of implements of crime.

On June 18, however, it was revealed that James McCord was the salaried security coordinator for President Richard Nixon’s reelection committee. The next day, E. Howard Hunt, Jr., a former White House aide, was linked to the five suspects. In July, G. Gordon Liddy, finance counsel for the Committee for the Re-election of the President, was also implicated as an accomplice. In August, President Nixon announced that a White House investigation of the Watergate break-in had concluded that administration officials were not involved. In September, Liddy, Hunt, McCord, and the four Cubans were indicted by a federal grand jury on eight counts of breaking into and illegally bugging the Democratic National Committee headquarters.

In September and October, reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward of The Washington Post uncovered evidence of illegal political espionage carried out by the White House and the Committee for the Re-election of the President, including the existence of a secret fund kept for the purpose and the existence of political spies hired by the committee. Despite these reports, and a growing call for a Watergate investigation on Capitol Hill, Richard Nixon was reelected president in November 1972 in a landslide victory.

In January 1973, five of the Watergate burglars pleaded guilty, and two others, Liddy and McCord, were convicted. At their sentencing on March 23, U.S. District Court Judge John J. Sirica read a letter from McCord charging that the White House had conducted an extensive 𠇌over-up” to conceal its connection with the break-in. In April, Attorney General Richard Kleindienst and two top White House advisers, H.R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman, resigned, and White House counsel John Dean was fired.

On May 17, 1973, the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities, headed by Senator Sam Ervin of North Carolina, began televised proceedings on the rapidly escalating Watergate affair. One week later, Harvard Law professor Archibald Cox was sworn in as special Watergate prosecutor. During the Senate hearings, former White House legal counsel John Dean testified that the Watergate break-in had been approved by former Attorney General John Mitchell with the knowledge of White House advisers Ehrlichman and Haldeman, and that President Nixon had been aware of the cover-up. Meanwhile, Watergate prosecutor Cox and his staff began to uncover widespread evidence of political espionage by the Nixon re-election committee, illegal wiretapping of thousands of citizens by the administration, and contributions to the Republican Party in return for political favors.

In July, the existence of what were to be called the Watergate tapes–official recordings of White House conversations between Nixon and his staff–was revealed during the Senate hearings. Cox subpoenaed these tapes, and after three months of delay President Nixon agreed to send summaries of the recordings. Cox rejected the summaries, and Nixon fired him. His successor as special prosecutor, Leon Jaworski, leveled indictments against several high-ranking administration officials, including Mitchell and Dean, who were duly convicted.


An article in The Washington Post reports that a check for $25,000 earmarked for Nixon’s 1972 re-election campaign was deposited into the bank account of one of the men arrested for the Watergate break-in. Over the course of nearly two years, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein continue to file stories about the Watergate scandal, relying on many sources.

Bob Woodward (left) and Carl Bernstein in the Washington Post newsroom, 1973.

Ken Feil/The Washington Post/Getty Images


This day in history, April 30: Vietnam War ends as the South Vietnamese capital of Saigon fell to Communist forces

Today is Friday, April 30, the 120th day of 2021. There are 245 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On April 30, 1975, the Vietnam War ended as the South Vietnamese capital of Saigon fell to Communist forces.

In 1517, Londoners began attacking foreign residents in rioting that carried over into the next day no deaths were reported from what came to be known as “Evil May Day,” but about a dozen rioters, maybe more, ended up being executed.

In 1789, George Washington took the oath of office in New York as the first president of the United States.

In 1803, the United States purchased the Louisiana Territory from France for 60 million francs, the equivalent of about $15 million.

In 1945, as Soviet troops approached his Berlin bunker, Adolf Hitler took his own life along with that of his wife of one day, Eva Braun.

In 1968, New York City police forcibly removed student demonstrators occupying five buildings at Columbia University.

In 1970, President Richard M. Nixon announced the U.S. was sending troops into Cambodia, an action that sparked widespread protest.

In 1973, President Richard Nixon announced the resignations of top aides H.R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman, Attorney General Richard G. Kleindienst and White House counsel John Dean, who was actually fired.

In 1983, blues singer and guitarist Muddy Waters died in Westmont, Ill., at age 68.

In 1993, top-ranked women’s tennis player Monica Seles was stabbed in the back during a match in Hamburg, Germany, by a man who described himself as a fan of second-ranked German player Steffi Graf. (The man, convicted of causing grievous bodily harm, was given a suspended sentence.)

In 2004, Arabs expressed outrage at graphic photographs of naked Iraqi prisoners being humiliated by U.S. military police President George W. Bush condemned the mistreatment of prisoners, saying “that’s not the way we do things in America.”

In 2010, heavy winds and high tides complicated efforts to hold back oil from a blown-out BP-operated rig that threatened to coat bird and marine life in the Gulf of Mexico President Barack Obama halted any new offshore projects pending safeguards to prevent more explosions like the one that unleashed the spill.

In 2019, Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó took to the streets to call for a military uprising against Nicolas Maduro street battles erupted in the Venezuelan capital. The Trump administration quickly declared enthusiastic support for the Venezuelan opposition effort.

Ten years ago: A Libyan official said Moammar Gadhafi had escaped a NATO missile strike in Tripoli that killed one of his sons and three young grandchildren.

Five years ago: Anti-government protesters tore down walls and poured into the Iraqi capital’s heavily fortified Green Zone, where they stormed parliament in a major escalation of a political crisis that had simmered for months. The Rev. Daniel Berrigan, 94, a Roman Catholic priest and peace activist who was imprisoned for burning draft files in a protest against the Vietnam War, died in New York.

One year ago: The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits soared past 30 million in the six weeks since the virus outbreak took hold. The Republican-led Michigan legislature refused to extend the state’s emergency declaration and voted to authorize a lawsuit challenging the authority of Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to deal with the pandemic Whitmer responded by declaring a new 28-day state of emergency. Hundreds of conservative activists, some openly carrying assault rifles, returned to the Michigan state Capitol to denounce the governor’s stay-home order. President Donald Trump continued to speculate on the origins of the coronavirus, saying China could have unleashed it on the world due to some kind of “mistake” or that it might have been released intentionally. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said New York City subways would be shut down from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. each day for cleaning of trains and stations.

Today’s birthdays: Singer Willie Nelson is 88. Actor Burt Young is 81. King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden is 75. Movie director Allan Arkush is 73. Actor Perry King is 73. Singer-musician Wayne Kramer is 73. Singer Merrill Osmond is 68. Movie director Jane Campion is 67. Movie director Lars von Trier is 65. Former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is 62. Actor Paul Gross is 62. Basketball Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas is 60. Actor Adrian Pasdar is 56. Rock singer J.R. Richards (Dishwalla) is 54. Rapper Turbo B (Snap) is 54. Rock musician Clark Vogeler is 52. R&B singer Chris “Choc” Dalyrimple (Soul For Real) is 50. Rock musician Chris Henderson (3 Doors Down) is 50. Country singer Carolyn Dawn Johnson is 50. Actor Lisa Dean Ryan is 49. R&B singer Akon is 48. R&B singer Jeff Timmons (98 Degrees) is 48. Actor Johnny Galecki is 46. Actor Sam Heughan is 41. Actor Kunal Nayyar is 40. Rapper Lloyd Banks is 39. Actor Kirsten Dunst is 39. Actor Dianna Agron is 35. Country singer Brandon Lancaster is 32. Rapper/producer Travis Scott is 30.

Journalism, it’s often said, is the first-draft of history. Check back each day for what’s new … and old.


Cite as

“Richard Nixon and Richard G. Kleindienst on 25 April 1973,” Conversation 038-159, Presidential Recordings Digital Edition [“Vice President Agnew,” ed. Nicole Hemmer] (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2014–). URL: http://prde.upress.virginia.edu/conversations/4003590

Rotunda was created for the publication of original digital scholarship along with newly digitized critical and documentary editions in the humanities and social sciences. The collection combines the originality, intellectual rigor, and scholarly value of traditional peer-reviewed university press publishing with thoughtful technological innovation designed for scholars and students.

The Miller Center is a nonpartisan affiliate of the University of Virginia that specializes in presidential scholarship, public policy, and political history and strives to apply the lessons of history to the nation’s most pressing contemporary governance challenges.

Rotunda editions were established by generous grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the President’s Office of the University of Virginia

The Miller Center’s Presidential Recordings Program is funded in part by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission


Richard Kleindienst - History

Attended of University of Arizona

Lived in Phoenix and Prescott

Richard Kleindienst is standing in the back row behind and to the immediate right of President Nixon at the center of this picture taken of the President and his Cabinet less than a year before Kleindienst resigned his office. Pictured: Front Row: Donald Rumsfeld, Sec. of Trasportation John Volpe, Sec. of Commerce Peter Peterson, Sec. of Defense Melvin Laird, Richard M. Nixon, Sec. of State William Rogers, Sec. of the Interior Rogers C.B. Morton, Sec. of HEW Elliot Richardson, Director of OMB Caspar Weinberger. Back Row: Robert Finch, Sec. of HUD George Romney, Sec. of Agriculture Earl Butz, Sec. of the Treasury George Shultz, Vice President Spiro Agnew, Attorney General Richard Kleindienst, Sec. of Labor James Hodgson, Ambassador at large David Kennedy, Ambassador to the UN George Bush. White House Photo Office Collection, 6-16-1972.

Richard Kleindienst assisted in Richard Nixon's 1968 presidential campaign. He was rewarded for his efforts by appointment as Nixon's Deputy Attorney General. When Attorney General John Mitchell resigned in 1972 to head the ill-fated Committee to Re-elect the President, Kleindienst succeeded as Attorney General.

Kleindienst was sworn in as Attorney General just 5 days before the break-in to the Democrat's Watergate headquarters which eventually forced Nixon's resignation. Early in 1973 as charges of obstruction of the Watergate scandal came to a head, Kliendienst joined White House aids H.R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman and White House counsel John Dean in resigning their offices.

In 1974 Kleindienst, who remained an avid Nixon supporter, plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of failing to fully testify in the Senate hearing on confirmation of his appointment as Attorney General. The testimony he omitted concerned a 1971 antitrust suit the Justice Department filed against International Telephone and Telegraph. Kleindienst failed to testify that Nixon ordered him to drop the suit, but relented only when he threatened to resign.


Today in History

Today is Friday, April 30, the 120th day of 2021. There are 245 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On April 30, 1975, the Vietnam War ended as the South Vietnamese capital of Saigon fell to Communist forces.

In 1517, Londoners began attacking foreign residents in rioting that carried over into the next day no deaths were reported from what came to be known as “Evil May Day,” but about a dozen rioters, maybe more, ended up being executed.

In 1789, George Washington took the oath of office in New York as the first president of the United States.

In 1803, the United States purchased the Louisiana Territory from France for 60 million francs, the equivalent of about $15 million.

In 1945, as Soviet troops approached his Berlin bunker, Adolf Hitler took his own life along with that of his wife of one day, Eva Braun.

In 1968, New York City police forcibly removed student demonstrators occupying five buildings at Columbia University.

In 1970, President Richard M. Nixon announced the U.S. was sending troops into Cambodia, an action that sparked widespread protest.

In 1973, President Richard Nixon announced the resignations of top aides H.R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman, Attorney General Richard G. Kleindienst and White House counsel John Dean, who was actually fired.

In 1983, blues singer and guitarist Muddy Waters died in Westmont, Ill., at age 68.

In 1993, top-ranked women’s tennis player Monica Seles was stabbed in the back during a match in Hamburg, Germany, by a man who described himself as a fan of second-ranked German player Steffi Graf. (The man, convicted of causing grievous bodily harm, was given a suspended sentence.)

In 2004, Arabs expressed outrage at graphic photographs of naked Iraqi prisoners being humiliated by U.S. military police President George W. Bush condemned the mistreatment of prisoners, saying “that’s not the way we do things in America.”

In 2010, heavy winds and high tides complicated efforts to hold back oil from a blown-out BP-operated rig that threatened to coat bird and marine life in the Gulf of Mexico President Barack Obama halted any new offshore projects pending safeguards to prevent more explosions like the one that unleashed the spill.

In 2019, Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó took to the streets to call for a military uprising against Nicolas Maduro street battles erupted in the Venezuelan capital. The Trump administration quickly declared enthusiastic support for the Venezuelan opposition effort.

Ten years ago: A Libyan official said Moammar Gadhafi had escaped a NATO missile strike in Tripoli that killed one of his sons and three young grandchildren.

Five years ago: Anti-government protesters tore down walls and poured into the Iraqi capital’s heavily fortified Green Zone, where they stormed parliament in a major escalation of a political crisis that had simmered for months. The Rev. Daniel Berrigan, 94, a Roman Catholic priest and peace activist who was imprisoned for burning draft files in a protest against the Vietnam War, died in New York.


Who Was Behind the Largest Mass Arrest in U.S. History?

Washington’s police chief took the blame. But Nixon was behind the decision.

Mr. Roberts is the author of “Mayday 1971: A White House at War, a Revolt in the Streets, and the Untold History of America’s Biggest Mass Arrest.”

In the spring of 1971, Richard Nixon found himself in a situation not unlike President Trump’s. His approval rating was falling — in Mr. Nixon’s case, to a first-term low — just as an energetic social movement was hitting the streets. Like Mr. Trump, Mr. Nixon was tempted to use military force to counter those dissenters. And like the current president, Mr. Nixon and his aides found a way around the Pentagon’s resistance.

The occasion was the most audacious plan yet by the six-year-old movement against the Vietnam War. A group called the Mayday Tribe organized a traffic blockade of Washington under the slogan “If the government won’t stop the war, we’ll stop the government.”

As the Mayday action unfolded on May 3, twin-engine Chinook helicopters roared down by the Washington Monument, disgorging troops from the 82nd Airborne Division, who trotted off to the Capitol and other hot spots. In all, the administration summoned 10,000 soldiers and Marines, turning “the center of the nation’s capital into an armed camp with thousands of troops lining the bridges and principal streets, helicopters whirring overhead and helmeted police charging crowds of civilians with nightsticks and tear gas,” according to a New York Times report. More than 12,000 people were swept up over three days, the largest mass arrest in U.S. history.

John Dean, the Nixon aide who flipped on his boss in the Watergate scandal, wrote recently in The Times: “Never once did I hear anyone in the Nixon White House or Justice Department suggest using United States military forces, or any federal officers outside the military, to quell civil unrest or disorder. Nor have I found any evidence of such activity after the fact, when digging through the historical record.”

Mr. Dean and I were there on Mayday (he was inside the White House I was on the streets). He has suggested that the troops were called by city officials, not Mr. Nixon, and in any case weren’t used offensively to quell the blockade. I also dug through the historical record, for a new book on those events, and came to quite a different conclusion. What I found in White House tapes, in minutes of planning meetings and in the papers of Mr. Nixon’s aides, including those of his chief of staff, H.R. Haldeman, and his chief domestic adviser, John Ehrlichman, left no doubt that a half century ago, a president under siege resorted to military force and mass arrests for political gain.

The Mayday protest was the finale of an extraordinary season of dissent. After Mr. Nixon expanded the Vietnam War into Laos, hundreds of thousands of protesters arrived in Washington for a variety of events. Among them were Vietnam veterans, “flower children,” self-styled revolutionaries and pacifists. Veterans hurled medals onto the Capitol’s steps. Quakers held pray-ins. A mass march, almost surely the biggest the city had seen, stretched along the National Mall. Then, on the first weekend in May, more than 40,000 people gathered by the Potomac River for the Mayday action.

The antiwar movement had already helped turn public opinion against Mr. Nixon’s conduct of the war. He was determined to deny activists a victory that could cause further political damage. He blasted them in private with rants like “Little bastards are draft dodgers, country-haters or don’t-cares.”(If Mr. Nixon had access to Twitter, his tweets would have been eerily similar to Mr. Trump’s.) He instructed aides to ensure the blockade would fail and, as one put it, didn’t care if it took 100,000 troops, and if they came up short, “someone will be in big trouble.”

Mr. Nixon’s men convened a war council with representatives of the police, the military and the National Guard. Presiding was the deputy attorney general, Richard Kleindienst. Washington didn’t yet have home rule, so the police chief, Jerry V. Wilson, answered to the White House. Mr. Kleindienst and Mr. Ehrlichman batted away objections from Chief Wilson and Army Lt. Gen. Hugh Exton, who questioned Mr. Kleindienst’s demand for 10,000 regular troops, given that thousands of police and guardsmen were already available. They suggested such force might do more to inflame the situation than calm it. Separately, Pentagon officials told Mr. Kleindienst that his plan “to combat dissent,” as they characterized it, might not comport with the rules. They reminded him of the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act, which generally bans active duty troops from law enforcement.

Mr. Kleindienst overrode their concerns with an opinion from the Justice Department’s legal counsel, William Rehnquist, who had been his protégé in their home state, Arizona. Mr. Rehnquist said the act didn’t apply the president had “inherent constitutional authority” to use troops “to protect the functioning of the government.” (Mr. Rehnquist would be named to the Supreme Court by Mr. Nixon later that year and elevated to chief justice under President Ronald Reagan.)

Mr. Kleindienst faced another obstacle. David Packard, the deputy secretary of defense, pointed out the procedures a president should follow, under the Insurrection Act, in calling forth the military: a formal order that demonstrators disperse and, if they don’t, an executive order to send in troops. Mr. Nixon’s predecessor, Lyndon Johnson, had done this during the riots in Washington in 1968 after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. The White House, however, wanted to keep its involvement under wraps. According to Mr. Haldeman’s diary, Mr. Nixon let Mr. Packard know he wanted troops sent without any public presidential action. The White House spread the fake news that city officials had requested the military help.

In contrast, Mr. Trump has been open about his desire to send troops to “dominate” streets in cities with Black Lives Matter protests. After Defense Secretary Mark Esper and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, stood in the way of using active-duty military, the president dispatched forces from agencies including Customs and Border Protection. In June, those agents cleared peaceful demonstrators from Lafayette Square outside the White House for the president’s now-famous photo op in front of a church. In Portland, Ore., they used tear gas and other riot tools to disperse largely peaceful protesters outside the federal courthouse.

During the 1971 Mayday action, as 12,000 people tried to snarl rush-hour traffic with nonviolent civil disobedience, a majority of the regular troops fended off protesters at bridges and federal buildings, or guarded large groups of detained protesters. Most soldiers didn’t confront demonstrators directly, but their presence and hardware bolstered the authoritarian tactics and escalated tensions. A police dragnet swept up 7,000 people that Monday, including many young people just walking on the streets wearing hippie-style clothing, and took in more than 5,000 other demonstrators over the next two days. My research confirmed that Mr. Nixon gave the order to make the mass arrests. He made it clear later to a group of conservative members of Congress: “The point is, I had the responsibility,” he told them. “I approved this plan.”

As criticism mounted that the dragnet was unconstitutional (courts ultimately agreed, awarding detainees millions in damages), Mr. Nixon’s involvement was suspected. The White House denied it. Aides instructed the police chief, Mr. Wilson, to take the heat. “I wish to emphasize the fact that I made all tactical decisions relating to the recent disorders,” he said in a public statement. “I took these steps because I felt they were necessary to protect the safety of law-abiding citizens and to maintain order in the city.” The tapes show Mr. Nixon’s men were delighted.

“Wilson went to the mat today,” Mr. Ehrlichman confirmed to Mr. Nixon. “Good for him!” the president said. Mr. Ehrlichman added, “We programmed him to do this this morning, and he did better than you could possibly have programmed.” He went on: “He has never let us down yet.”

No military leader expressed second thoughts in the weeks after Mayday.

But in June, after General Milley accompanied Mr. Trump to Lafayette Square wearing combat fatigues as protesters were dispersed by federal agents and police, he said he regretted taking part.

“We must hold dear the principle of an apolitical military that is so deeply rooted in the very essence of our republic,” General Milley told graduates of National Defense University. “And this is not easy. It takes time and work and effort, but it may be the most important thing each and every one of us does every single day. And my second piece of advice is very simple: Embrace the Constitution.”

Lawrence Roberts, a former editor at ProPublica and The Washington Post, is the author of “Mayday 1971: A White House at War, a Revolt in the Streets, and the Untold History of America’s Biggest Mass Arrest.”


TIMELINE

November 5 - Richard Milhous Nixon, the 55-year-old former vice president who lost the presidency for the Republicans in 1960, reclaims it by defeating Hubert Humphrey in one of the closest elections in U.S. history. Post Story

January 21 - Nixon is inaugurated as the 37th president of the United States. Post Story

July 23 - Nixon approves a plan for greatly expanding domestic intelligence-gathering by the FBI, CIA and other agencies. He has second thoughts a few days later and rescinds his approval.

June 13 - The New York Times begins publishing the Pentagon Papers - the Defense Department's secret history of the Vietnam War. The Washington Post will begin publishing the papers later that same week.

September 3 - The White House "plumbers" unit - named for their orders to plug leaks in the administration - burglarizes a psychiatrist's office to find files on Daniel Ellsberg, the former defense analyst who leaked the Pentagon Papers.

June 17 - Five men, one of whom says he used to work for the CIA, are arrested at 2:30 a.m. trying to bug the offices of the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate hotel and office complex. Post Story

June 19 - A GOP security aide is among the Watergate burglars, The Washington Post reports. Former attorney general John Mitchell, head of the Nixon reelection campaign, denies any link to the operation. Post Story

August 1 - A $25,000 cashier's check, apparently earmarked for the Nixon campaign, wound up in the bank account of a Watergate burglar, The Washington Post reports. Post Story

September 29 - John Mitchell, while serving as attorney general, controlled a secret Republican fund used to finance widespread intelligence-gathering operations against the Democrats, The Post reports. Post Story

October 10 - FBI agents establish that the Watergate break-in stems from a massive campaign of political spying and sabotage conducted on behalf of the Nixon reelection effort, The Post reports. Post Story

November 7 - Nixon is reelected in one of the largest landslides in American political history, taking more than 60 percent of the vote and crushing the Democratic nominee, Sen. George McGovern of South Dakota. Post Story

January 30 - Former Nixon aides G. Gordon Liddy and James W. McCord Jr. are convicted of conspiracy, burglary and wiretapping in the Watergate incident. Five other men plead guilty, but mysteries remain. Post Story

April 30 - Nixon's top White House staffers, H.R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman, and Attorney General Richard Kleindienst resign over the scandal. White House counsel John Dean is fired.Post Story

May 18 - The Senate Watergate Committee begins its nationally televised hearings. Attorney General-designate Elliot Richardson taps former solicitor general Archibald Cox as the Justice Department's special prosecutor for Watergate. Post Story | Post Analysis

June 3 - John Dean has told Watergate investigators that he discussed the Watergate cover-up with President Nixon at least 35 times, The Post reports. Post Story

June 13 - Watergate prosecutors find a memo addressed to John Ehrlichman describing in detail the plans to burglarize the office of Pentagon Papers defendant Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist, The Post reports. Post Story

July 13 - Alexander Butterfield, former presidential appointments secretary, reveals in congressional testimony that since 1971 Nixon had recorded all conversations and telephone calls in his offices. Post Story

July 18 - Nixon reportedly orders the White House taping system disconnected.

July 23 - Nixon refuses to turn over the presidential tape recordings to the Senate Watergate Committee or the special prosecutor.Post Story

October 20 - Saturday Night Massacre: Nixon fires Archibald Cox and abolishes the office of the special prosecutor. Attorney General Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William D. Ruckelshaus resign. Pressure for impeachment mounts in Congress. Post Story

November 17 - Nixon declares, "I'm not a crook," maintaining his innocence in the Watergate case. Post Story

December 7 - The White House can't explain an 18 ½-minute gap in one of the subpoenaed tapes. Chief of Staff Alexander Haig says one theory is that "some sinister force" erased the segment. Post Story

April 30 - The White House releases more than 1,200 pages of edited transcripts of the Nixon tapes to the House Judiciary Committee, but the committee insists that the tapes themselves must be turned over. Post Story

July 24 - The Supreme Court rules unanimously that Nixon must turn over the tape recordings of 64 White House conversations, rejecting the president's claims of executive privilege. Post Story

August 8 - Richard Nixon becomes the first U.S. president to resign. Vice President Gerald R. Ford assumes the country's highest office. He will later pardon Nixon of all charges related to the Watergate case. Post Story

June 13 - Stanley L. Greigg, 71, the former Democratic National Committee official who filed the original criminal complaint against the Watergate burglars, dies in Salem, Va. Post Story

June 25 - One week after the 30th anniversary of the Watergate break-in, an alternative theory of what prompted the most famous burglary in American political history returns to U.S. District Court.Post Story

February 10 - Ronald Ziegler, 63, who as President Richard M. Nixon's press secretary at first described the Watergate break-in as a "third-rate burglary," a symbol of his often-testy relations with reporters, dies after a heart attack. He once was suspected of being "Deep Throat."

April 8 - In one of the largest such purchases in American history, the University of Texas at Austin buys the Watergate papers of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein for $5 million, the university announced. Post Story

July 16 - Chesterfield Smith, 85, a prominent Florida lawyer who, as president of the American Bar Association in 1973, became a critic of President Richard Nixon's efforts to avoid the stains of the Watergate scandal, dies in a hospital in Coral Gables, Fla., after a heart attack. Post Story

August 24 - John J. Rhodes, 86, an Arizona Republican who as minority leader of the House of Representatives played a critical role in the events leading to the 1974 resignation of President Richard M. Nixon, dies of cancer at his home in Mesa, Ariz.Post Story

October 31 - Thomas F. McBride, 74, an associate prosecutor in the Watergate investigation and former inspector general of the Agriculture and Labor departments, dies of a cerebral hemorrhage while walking his dog in a park near his home in Portland, Ore.

November 13 - Congressional negotiators agree to undo part of a Watergate-era law that prevented former president Richard M. Nixon from taking his tapes and papers with him, but say the records would still have to be processed here before being released to establish the presidential library that Nixon and his family always wanted. Post Story

December 11 - National Archives and Records Administration releases 240 more hours of tape of the 37th president. Post Story

April 9 - Helen M. Smith, 84, who worked at the White House as press secretary and trusted aide to first lady Pat Nixon during the turbulent Watergate years, dies of vascular disease at her home in Washington. Post Story

May 27 - Transcripts of telephone conversations released show President Richard M. Nixon jokingly threatened to drop a nuclear bomb on Capitol Hill in March 1974 as Congress was moving to impeach him over the Watergate scandal. Post Story

May 29 - Archibald Cox, 92, the Harvard law professor and special prosecutor whose refusal to accept White House limits on his investigation of the Watergate break-in and coverup helped bring about the 1974 resignation of President Richard M. Nixon, dies at his home in Brooksville, Maine. Post Story

May 29 - Samuel Dash, 79, the chief counsel of the Senate Watergate Committee whose televised interrogation into the secret audiotaping system at the White House ultimately led to President Richard M. Nixon's resignation, dies of multiple organ failure May 29 at Washington Hospital Center. Post Story

July 29 - Frederick Cheney LaRue, 75, the shadowy Nixon White House aide and "bagman" who delivered more than $300,000 in payoffs to Watergate conspirators, dies of coronary artery disease in a Biloxi, Miss., motel room, where he lived.Post Story

January 22 - Rose Mary Woods, 87, the Nixon White House secretary whose improbable stretch was supposed to account for part of an 18 ½-minute gap in a crucial Watergate tape, dies at a nursing home in Alliance, Ohio, where she lived.Post Story

February 4 - Thousands of pages of notes, memos, transcripts and other materials collectively known as the Woodward and Bernstein Watergate Papers opens to the public at the University of Texas, minus the most fascinating detail connected to the demise of the Nixon administration: the identity of Deep Throat. Post Story

February 5 - James Joseph Bierbower, 81, a well-known Washington lawyer who represented Nixon campaign aide Jeb Stuart Magruder during the Watergate trials and EPA official Rita Lavelle during a Superfund inquiry, dies at Charlotte Hall Nursing Home in St. Mary's County. Post Story

February 18 - Robert R. Merhige Jr., a judge who who wrote the decision that threw out the appeals of Watergate figures G. Gordon Liddy, Bernard Barker and Eugenio Martinez after they were convicted of breaking into the office of Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist dies. Post Story

May 31 - The Washington Post confirms that W. Mark Felt, a former number-two official at the FBI, was Deep Throat, after Vanity Fair magazine identified the 91-year-old Felt, now a retiree in California, as the long-anonymous Watergate source. Post Story

July 6 - L. Patrick Gray, the acting director of the FBI who passed its investigative reports on the Watergate scandal to the White House, and who was left to "twist slowly, slowly in the wind" by President Richard M. Nixon, died July 6 at his home in Atlantic Beach, Fla., at age 88 Post Story

May 16 - Martin F. Dardis, who connected the Watergate burglars to President Nixon's Committee to Reelect the President, died of vascular disease May 16 at a nursing home in Palm City, Fla., at age 83 Post Story

July 17 - Robert C. Mardian, the attorney for President Richard Nixon's Committee to Re-Elect the President whose conviction of conspiracy to obstruct justice in the Watergate scandal was overturned on appeal, dies at age 82 at his home in San Clemente, Calif. Post Story

January 27 - E. Howard Hunt, the former CIA agent who organized the Watergate break-in and other "dirty tricks" that ultimately brought down the Nixon presidency, dies of complications from pneumonia at a hospital in Miami at age 88. Post Story

April 25 - DeVan L. Shumway, the spokesman for the Committee to Re-Elect the President who staunchly defended the Nixon administration throughout the Watergate scandal, dies in Baltimore of lung disease at age 77. Post Story


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