Thursday, January 12, 2012

Another Last War Of Watergate

Richard Nixon and Bob Haldeman's ex-aides went to war against John Dean, Nixon's White House counsel, in 2009, with a big boost from another of their own, Sen. Lamar Alexander. Now Dean has fired back in an account of the release of Nixon's June 1975 Watergate grand jury testimony:

There was an attempt to file an opposition...and I was surprised by its source: former Nixon White House junior level aide Geoff Shepard, who had worked on the staff of the Domestic Counsel.

Shepard, who graduated from law school, spent his career in the insurance industry after leaving the White House. More recently, he’s become an active Nixon apologist and conspiracy buff, who published a book titled: The Secret Plot to Make Ted Kennedy President, Inside the Real Watergate Conspiracy (2008). I have not read the book. When I first learned of it, I happened to be talking with the person for whom Shepard worked at the Nixon White House. He told me that he had warned Shepard that he was, in essence, making a fool of himself with his account. This was advice from a person who is intimately familiar with Watergate and has written about it. It was correct, but this fact has not deterred Shepard from proceeding accordingly.

In a similarly fatuous fashion, Shepard tried to intervene in the Public Citizen case I described above, to oppose the petition to unseal Nixon’s grand jury testimony. However, Judge Lamberth denied his request. Shepard then totally flip-flopped and filed a petition requesting the court unseal virtually everything relating to Watergate held by NARA, all the grand jury proceedings, all the Senate Watergate Committee material, the records of the House Impeachment Inquiry of Nixon, and all the WSPF trial materials relating to Watergate. Shepard’s petition appeared to be an effort to stall the effort to unseal Nixon’s testimony. But it failed. When granting the motion to unseal Nixon’s testimony, Judge Lamberth issued an order denying Shepard’s request(s), while pointing out their complete failure.

When Kennedy died in August 2009, I wrote:
In May 2008, when we learned that Kennedy had cancer, a former Nixon White House aide, Geoff Shepard, published a book accusing him of having manipulated the Watergate scandal for the sake of a, well, Kennedy restoration. In the annals of publishing, a stroke of bad timing. With the country awash in sympathy, I decided it would be in poor taste for the Nixon Foundation to host a planned book event for Shepard with the federal Nixon Library. The gesture endeared us neither to the author nor the feds, but it seemed like the right call at the time.

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