Fred Thompson Was Nixon’s Boy During Watergate

Ken AshfordElection 2008Leave a Comment

1183542649_2985I always considered former senator and Law and Order actor Fred Thompson (pictured here, on the left) to be one of the "good" Republicans, if only because he was counsel to the Senate Watergate Committee, the one that eventually buried Nixon.  After all, it was Fred Thompson who uttered the now-historical question: "Mr. Butterfield, are you aware of the installation of any listening devices in the Oval Office of the president?"

The answer ("yes") set off a chain of events that led to Nixon’s resignation.

It turns out that Thompson, while indeed on the committee investigating Watergate, was actually leaking things to the Nixon White House in an effort to protect Nixon.

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.

"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."

So not only was he a leaker, but he admitted it.

The funny thing is that, even then, the Nixon White House was unimpressed with the young Thompson:

Nixon was disappointed with the selection of Thompson, whom he called "dumb as hell." The president did not think Thompson was skilled enough to interrogate unfriendly witnesses and would be outsmarted by the committee’s Democratic counsel.


Nixon expressed concern that Thompson was not "very smart."

"Not extremely so," Buzhardt agreed.

"But he’s friendly," Nixon said.

Friendly, and dumb.  Like we need that in the White House (again).