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Joseph Fred Buzhardt

Joseph Fred Buzhardt



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Fred Buzhardt was born in Greenwood, South Carolina, on 21st February, 1924. After attending Wolford College he served in the Army Air Corps (1942-1943). This was followed be a period in the West Point Military Academy (1943-1946) and in the United States Air Force (1946-1950).

After studying law at the University of South Carolina he went to work for his father's law firm (1952-58). Buzhardt then joined the staff of Strom Thurmond where he specialized in military affairs.

1966 Buzhardt started his own private law firm. A supporter of the Republican Party he was appointed Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of Defense in 1969. The following year he became General Counsel for Department of Defense.

Buzhardt was eventually drawn into the Watergate Scandal. In May 1973 Richard Nixon appointed him as White House Counsel for Watergate matters.

On 25th June, 1973, 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.

Buzhardt was now given the task of listening to the Nixon tapes. It was Buzhardt who discovered that there were "gaps" in some of the tapes. In the first week of November, 1973, Deep Throat told Bob Woodward that their were "gaps" in Nixon's tapes. He hinted that these gaps were the result of deliberate erasures. On 8th November, Woodward published an article in the Washington Post that said that according to their source the "conservation on some of the tapes appears to have been erased". It was later claimed by Jim Hougan (Secret Agenda) and John Dean (Lost Honor) that only a very small group of people could have known about these these gaps at this time. As a result some people suspected that Buzhardt was Deep Throat.

On 16th August, 1974, Buzhardt resigned from the White House and returned to private practice in Beaufort, South Carolina.

Fred Buzhardt died of a heart attack on 16th December, 1978.


Nixon's Early Resignation

On November 3, 1973 President Richard Nixon's two principal lawyers, Fred Buzhardt and Leonard Garment, flew to Key Biscayne, Florida, to recommend that he should resign. Nixon guessed what their mission was and decided not to.

Buzhardt and Garment were able to get Nixon to meet with them and so convinced him to resign, and as Spiro Agnew resigned just weeks before on October 10 there was no sitting Vice President in office. After President Nixon resigned on noon of November 5, 1973, the presidency passed to the Speaker of the House Democrat Carl Albert of Oklahoma. President Albert refused to effectively reverse the mandate of the Republican landslide victory of 1972, so he announced in a televised address to the nation that he would only serve for one year and would request for Congress to amend the Constitution to hold a special presidential election on Tuesday November 5, 1974.

He also announced that he did not intend to seek the Democratic nomination for the Presidency in the 1974 Presidential election and that he would support Nixon's choice for Vice President, the Minority Leader in the House of Representatives, Republican Congressman Gerald Ford of Michigan (Albert would nominate Ford to be his Vice President within a few days).

Within a mere five weeks, a new (twenty-seventh) amendment was approved by both the House of Representatives and the Senate and by the end of January 1974 it had been ratified by the state legislatures of 38 states. And so a presidential election was set for November 5, 1974.

In the 1974 spring Primary elections Vice President Ford narrowly outpaced his major Republican opponents California Governor Ronald Reagan and former Texas Governor and Treasury Secretary John B. Connally.

Senator Edmund Muskie of Maine won the Democratic nomination after a bitter primary battle and chose Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter for his running mate. In the election Democrats Eugene McCarthy and George Wallace chose to run for president as independents. This fractured the Democrat vote in numerous states and enabled Vice President Ford and his running mate Ronald Reagan to not only win a plurality in the popular vote, but a large majority in the Electoral College and therefore the presidency.

As a result of the 1974 presidential election, the four-year cycle of presidential elections in the United States was shifted.

President Ford chose to serve only one term and in 1978, Vice-President Ronald Reagan won the Republican nomination. He defeated the Democrat candidate Arizona Congressman Mo Udall in the presidential election and went on to serve from 1979 to 1987, defeating Colorado Senator Gary Hart in the 1982 election.

In 1986, Democrat Senator John Glenn of Ohio defeated Vice-President Phil Crane. However, President Glenn was defeated in his bid for re-election in 1990 by Republican former Secretary of State George H.W. Bush of Texas. President Bush served from 1991 to 1999, defeating former Michigan Governor David E. Bonior in the 1994 election. Vice-President Carroll Campbell was defeated in the 1998 election by Democrat Governor of West Virginia Gaston Caperton, however Campbell did win the popular vote. President Caperton was re-elected in 2002, defeating Governor Bruce Benson of Colorado by a very narrow margin.

In the 2006 presidential election, the Republican nominee, Virginia Governor Tom Davis defeated Vice-President Evan Bayh. Davis along with his running mate, then California Senator Tom McClintock defeated the ticket of Bayh and his running mate, then Mississippi Congressman Gene Taylor with 327 electoral votes to the Democrats's 211. In the popular vote Davis received 52 percent of the ballots cast and Bayh received 45 percent.


Today in History, November 21, 1973: President Nixon’s attorney revealed 18.5-minute gap in Watergate tapes

Rebecca L. Felton, a Georgia Democrat, was sworn in as the first woman to serve in the U.S. Senate, the result of an interim appointment.

In 1927, picketing strikers at the Columbine Mine in northern Colorado were fired on by state police six miners were killed.

The Universal horror film &ldquoFrankenstein,&rdquo starring Boris Karloff as the monster and Colin Clive as his creator, was first released.

The Alaska Highway, also known as the Alcan Highway, was formally opened at Soldier&rsquos Summit in the Yukon Territory.

President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Air Quality Act.

President Richard Nixon&rsquos attorney, J. Fred Buzhardt, revealed the existence of an 18½-minute gap in one of the White House tape recordings related to Watergate.

A mob attacked the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, killing two Americans.

A fire at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada killed 87 people.

An estimated 83 million TV viewers tuned in to the CBS prime-time soap opera &ldquoDallas&rdquo to find out &ldquowho shot J.R.&rdquo (The shooter turned out to be J.R. Ewing&rsquos sister-in-law, Kristin Shepard.)

A three-day tornado outbreak that struck 13 states began in the Houston area before spreading to the Midwest and eastern U.S.

Sen. Bob Packwood, R-Ore., issued an apology but refused to discuss allegations that he&rsquod made unwelcome sexual advances toward 10 women over the years. (Packwood resigned from the Senate in 1995.)

Balkan leaders meeting in Dayton, Ohio, initialed a peace plan to end three and a-half years of ethnic fighting in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Former teen pop idol David Cassidy, star of the 1970s sitcom &ldquoThe Partridge Family,&rdquo died at the age of 67 he&rsquod announced earlier in the year that he had been diagnosed with dementia.


Buzhardt co-operated with Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein during the research for a book, which became The Final Days, by sitting for eight "extensive" interviews. ⎝] In the 1989 film adaptation of the book, Richard Kiley portrayed Buzhardt. Kiley called Buzhardt "one of the mystery men, very much behind the scenes, and yet he played a key role." ⎞]

Leonard Garment, his former colleague in the Nixon White House, recalled Buzhardt as "one of the most profoundly moral men I have known." ⎟]


John Buzhardt

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Today in History

Today is Saturday, Nov. 21, the 326th day of 2020. There are 40 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Nov. 21, 1980, 87 people died in a fire at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada.

In 1920, the Irish Republican Army killed 12 British intelligence officers and two auxiliary policemen in the Dublin area British forces responded by raiding a soccer match, killing 14 civilians.

In 1922, Rebecca L. Felton, a Georgia Democrat, was sworn in as the first woman to serve in the U.S. Senate her term, the result of an interim appointment, ended the following day as Walter F. George, the winner of a special election, took office.

In 1931, the Universal horror film “Frankenstein,” starring Boris Karloff as the monster and Colin Clive as his creator, was first released.

In 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Air Quality Act.

In 1969, the Senate voted down the Supreme Court nomination of Clement F. Haynsworth, 55-45, the first such rejection since 1930.

In 1973, President Richard Nixon’s attorney, J. Fred Buzhardt (buh-ZAHRDT’), revealed the existence of an 18-1/2-minute gap in one of the White House tape recordings related to Watergate.

In 1979, a mob attacked the U-S Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, killing two Americans.

In 1985, U.S. Navy intelligence analyst Jonathan Jay Pollard was arrested accused of spying for Israel. (Pollard later pleaded guilty to espionage and was sentenced to life in prison he was released on parole on Nov. 20, 2015.)

In 1992, a three-day tornado outbreak that struck 13 states began in the Houston area before spreading to the Midwest and eastern U.S. 26 people were killed. Sen. Bob Packwood, R-Ore., issued an apology but refused to discuss allegations that he’d made unwelcome sexual advances toward ten women over the years. (Faced with a threat of expulsion, Packwood ended up resigning from the Senate in 1995.)

In 1995, Balkan leaders meeting in Dayton, Ohio, initialed a peace plan to end three and a-half years of ethnic fighting in Bosnia-Herzegovina (BAHZ’-nee-ah HEHR’-tsuh-goh-vee-nah).

In 2001, Ottilie (AH’-tih-lee) Lundgren, a 94-year-old resident of Oxford, Conn., died of inhalation anthrax she was the apparent last victim of a series of anthrax attacks carried out through the mail system.

In 2018, President Donald Trump and Chief Justice John Roberts publicly clashed over the independence of America’s judiciary, with Roberts rebuking the president for denouncing a judge hearing a migrant asylum challenge as an “Obama judge.”

Ten years ago: Debt-struck Ireland formally applied for a massive EU-IMF loan to stem the flight of capital from its banks, joining Greece in a step unthinkable only a few years earlier when Ireland was a booming Celtic Tiger and the economic envy of Europe. Justin Bieber received four American Music Awards, becoming at age 16 the youngest performer to win artist of the year.

Five years ago: Belgian authorities closed down Brussels’ subway system and flooded the streets with armed police and soldiers in response to what they said was a threat of Paris-style attacks. Louisiana Democrats reclaimed the governor’s mansion for the first time in eight years as John Bel Edwards defeated Republican David Vitter in a runoff election.

One year ago: Fiona Hill, a former White House official, testified to House investigators that President Donald Trump’s top European envoy had been sent on a “domestic political errand” seeking investigations of Democrats the testimony challenged a main line of the president’s defense in the impeachment probe. Trump declared that the Navy would not be taking away the SEAL designation of Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher he’d been acquitted of a murder charge in the stabbing death of an Islamic State captive but a military jury convicted him of posing with the corpse. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was indicted in a series of corruption cases the charges were the first ever against a sitting Israeli prime minister. (Netanyahu is currently on trial.)

Today’s Birthdays: Actor Laurence Luckinbill is 86. Actor Marlo Thomas is 83. Actor Rick Lenz is 81. Actor Juliet Mills is 79. Basketball Hall of Famer Earl Monroe is 76. Television producer Marcy Carsey is 76. Actor Goldie Hawn is 75. Movie director Andrew Davis is 74. Rock musician Lonnie Jordan (War) is 72. Singer Livingston Taylor is 70. Actor-singer Lorna Luft is 68. Actor Cherry Jones is 64. Rock musician Brian Ritchie (The Violent Femmes) is 60. Gospel singer Steven Curtis Chapman is 58. Actor Nicollette Sheridan is 57. Singer-actor Bjork (byork) is 55. Pro and College Football Hall of Famer Troy Aikman is 54. Rhythm-and-blues singer Chauncey Hannibal (BLACKstreet) is 52. Rock musician Alex James (Blur) is 52. Baseball Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. is 51. TV personality Rib Hillis is 50. Rapper Pretty Lou (Lost Boyz) is 49. Football player-turned-TV personality Michael Strahan (STRAY’-han) is 49. Actor Rain Phoenix is 48. Actor Marina de Tavira is 47. Country singer Kelsi Osborn (SHeDAISY) is 46. Actor Jimmi Simpson is 45. Singer-actor Lindsey Haun is 36. Actor Jena Malone is 36. Pop singer Carly Rae Jepsen is 35. Actor-singer Sam Palladio is 34.


Watergate [ edit ]

Buzhardt was named as special White House counsel for Watergate matters on May 10, 1973. ⎖] Alexander Haig, President Nixon's new White House Chief of Staff following the resignation of H. R. Haldeman, told Buzhardt that his role at the White House would be temporary, and so he retained his title at the Defense Department. His first task as special counsel was to investigate former White House Counsel John Dean. Dean, whom the president had fired the previous week, was cooperating with investigators and was believed to possess classified documents. Buzhardt, through his contacts in the intelligence community, determined that the documents were related to the Huston Plan, an illegal proposed expansion of domestic surveillance. ⎗]

It was Buzhardt who inadvertently tipped off Senate Watergate Committee investigators about the existence of the White House tapes. Nixon and Haig, who were aware of the sound-activated taping system in the Oval Office, had given to Buzhardt, who was not aware of it, detailed accounts of Nixon's meetings with Dean, including verbatim quotes. Buzhardt, in turn, conveyed the material to Fred Thompson, then minority counsel to the Watergate Committee. As recounted by Scott Armstrong, the majority staff discovered the transcript and questioned former White House aide Alexander Butterfield about its provenance. The questions led directly to Butterfield's July 16, 1973 disclosure of the taping system to the committee and then the public. Thompson, informed of the disclosure, in turn, warned Buzhardt, who then learned of it, for the first time, in that indirect way. ⎘] Buzhardt would spend hundreds of hours listening to the tapes to determine their contents before the tapes were conveyed to investigators. ⎙]

After Butterfield's revelation of the taping system, Buzhardt was active in resisting efforts by the Watergate Special prosecutor to obtain them. That November, after Nixon agreed to surrender some tapes, it became Buzhardt's task to inform U.S. District Judge John Sirica, who had issued the subpoenas for the tapes, that one of them contained an 18 1/2 minute erased gap. The tape in question contained a conversation between the president and H. R. Haldeman from June 20, 1972, just a few days after the Watergate break-in. ⎖]

Additionally, Buzhardt was involved in the negotiations that led to Vice President Spiro Agnew's resignation after being accused of accepting illegal payments. Judah Best, Agnew's attorney, recalled later that Buzhardt threatened to "personally. strap on his old '.45' and 'take care' of the situation" if anyone leaked the negotiations to the press. The negotiations did not leak, and Agnew resigned on October 10, 1973. ⎚]


What Was the Watergate Scandal About?

What was originally dismissed as a third-rate burglary by the White House Press Secretary grew into the largest political scandal in modern American history—culminating with the only resignation of a President in our nation’s history and the conviction and imprisonment of two dozen members of his administration.

Even today, some forty-five years after those momentous events, controversy still swirls around the origin, meaning, and lessons to be learned from the scandal and its aftermath.

Geoff Shepard was intimately involved in the functioning of the White House throughout that scandal—but untouched by the criminal prosecutions that followed. He worked for John Ehrlichman, who was convicted in both the Plumbers and the cover-up trial his immediate supervisor was Egil (Bud) Krogh, the head Plumber Gordon Liddy was a colleague on the Domestic Council staff. Both Charles (Chuck) Colson and John Dean had offices nearby.

His responsibilities as a member of the Domestic Council staff centered on the Department of Justice, so Shepard also knew and worked with DOJ officials who later became prominent as the scandal unfolded.

Once the cover-up collapsed, Shepard joined the Watergate defense team and functioned as principal deputy to J. Fred Buzhardt, President Nixon’s lead defense counsel. In that capacity, he helped transcribe the White House tapes—and supervised publication of the Blue Book of almost fifty conversations on April 30, 1974. He also ran the Document Room holding the seized files of John Dean, John Ehrlichman and H.R. Haldeman. He staffed Presidential Counselors Bryce Harlow and Dean Burch on the Watergate issue and was the official White House representative at the tapes argument before the United States Supreme Court.

Shepard testified as a government witness in the Plumbers trial and was subpoenaed for the same purpose in the cover-up trial. He also is one of only two former members of the White House staff who possesses a letter from the Special Prosecutor saying, in pertinent part, that he was never the object of any investigation by any of their task forces.

Shepard’s views on Watergate –how and why the break-in occurred and the cover-up grew to consume the presidency, and what lessons are to be learned from the experience—differ materially from generally accepted conventional wisdom on this subject. He has written and talked about his views since the publication of his first book in 2008.

This section contains information designed to help guide future researchers and scholars to a greater understanding of Watergate:


Gap on key Watergate tape revealed: Nov. 21, 1973

On this day in 1973, J. Fred Buzhardt, a lawyer defending President Richard Nixon in the Watergate case, revealed to U.S. District Court Judge John Sirica that a key White House tape dealing with the scandal had an 18½-minute gap.

It appears in a recording made on June 20, 1972, as Nixon discussed the break-in at the Democratic National Committee in the Watergate complex for the first time with his chief of staff, H. R. Haldeman.

Special prosecutor Archibald Cox subsequently subpoenaed the tape. (Alexander Butterfield, a White House aide, had revealed the existence of the White House taping system in July after being questioned about it by Fred Thompson, the minority counsel of the Senate Watergate Committee.)

Rose Mary Woods, Nixon’s secretary, testified that while playing the tape she took a phone call. She said that when she reached for the stop button, for five minutes she mistakenly pressed her foot on the record pedal.

But Woods insisted she was not responsible for the remaining 13 minutes of the gap. Reporters were called to the White House to watch her perform a reenactment, and the photos of her performing a tremendous stretch, were deemed to be implausible.

Moreover, that tape recording machine does not operate the way she had claimed simply pressing the foot pedal to “record” would not initiate a recording unless the play button was being manually depressed at the same time.

White House chief of staff Alexander Haig blamed the 18½-minute gap on a “sinister force.” Years later, Haig, who succeeded Haldeman as Nixon’s chief of staff, speculated that Nixon himself might have erased the tape. Haig noted that Nixon, who was inept at operating mechanical devices, might have erased it while fumbling with the recorder’s controls. He could not say whether Nixon had done so inadvertently or intentionally.

In January 1974, experts appointed by Sirica who examined the tape reported that were four or five separate erasures. They found that at least some of the erasures required the kind of hand operations that couldn’t have been performed by a foot pedal.

Obama says he may take on Trump

The political reaction to the erasure eroded Nixon’s already-poor credibility. However, at the time of the erasure Nixon still retained at least a fighting chance of retaining enough Republican support in the Senate to prevent the two-thirds majority necessary for his conviction.

The National Archives now owns the tape. It has tried several times to recover the missing material, most recently in 2003. None of those efforts succeeded.

The tape is held in a climate-controlled vault should future technological breakthroughs permit restoring the deleted audio.

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This day in history

Today is Monday, Nov. 21, the 326th day of 2016. There are 40 days left in the year.

Today’s birthdays: Actor Joseph Campanella is 92. Actress Marlo Thomas is 79. Singer Dr. John is 76. Basketball Hall of Famer Earl Monroe is 72. Actress Goldie Hawn is 71. Director Andrew Davis is 70. Singer Livingston Taylor is 66. Actress Cherry Jones is 60. Singer Bjork is 51. Football Hall of Famer Troy Aikman is 50. Baseball Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. is 47. Football player-turned-TV personality Michael Strahan is 45.

In 1864, a letter was signed by President Lincoln expressing condolences to Lydia Bixby, a widow in Boston whose five sons supposedly died while fighting in the Civil War. (As it turned out, only two of Mrs. Bixby’s sons had been killed in battle.)

In 1969, the Senate voted down the Supreme Court nomination of Clement Haynsworth, the first such rejection since 1930.

In 1973, President Nixon’s attorney, J. Fred Buzhardt, revealed the existence of an 18½-minute gap in one of the White House tape recordings related to Watergate.

In 1974, bombs exploded at a pair of pubs in Birmingham, England, killing 21 people. (Six suspects were convicted of the attack, but the convictions of the so-called ‘‘Birmingham Six’’ were overturned in 1991.)

In 1980, 87 people died in a fire at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas. An estimated 83 million TV viewers tuned in to the CBS prime-time soap opera ‘‘Dallas’’ to find out ‘‘who shot J.R.’’

In 2006, Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel, scion of Lebanon’s most prominent Christian family, was assassinated.


Watch the video: Geoffrey Shepard Discusses the Watergate Break-in and Transcribing the White House Tapes (August 2022).