Who Was Involved in the Watergate Scandal?
A number of key players were involved in the Watergate Scandal. Interested in learning more about the timeline of Watergate? Take a look at the Watergate Essential Chronology.
Renata Adler: Yale Law ’73, protégé of Professor Burke Marshall, who placed her on House Judiciary Impeachment Inquiry as part of small group working under Marshall’s direction to aid Senator Kennedy; later authored 1976 article in Atlantic Monthly saying allegations of Nixon’s abuses of power were no different from those of prior presidents that were revealed by Church Committee, as well as devastatingly critical article on background and conduct of Judge John Sirica. Both articles also appear in her 2001 book, Canaries in the Mineshaft, Essays on Politics and Media.
Howard Baker: Son-in-law of Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen of Tennessee, being elected Senator himself in ’66; Ranking Minority Member of Ervin Committee. Ran for President in 1980 Republican primaries, but lost out to Ronald Reagan, later becoming his Chief of Staff in Reagan’s second term.
Carmine Bellino: Long-time Kennedy family accountant; maintained offices at both John Kennedy’s White House and Robert Kennedy’s Department of Justice; lead investigator for both Edward Kennedy’s Subcommittee on Administrative Practices and Procedures and the Senate Watergate Committee.
Richard Ben-Veniste: Assistant US Attorney in Southern District of NY, where he prosecuted the Sweig case. Joined WSPF as Deputy of Watergate Task Force, becoming head upon Neal’s departure just before the Saturday Night Massacre. Deputy trial counsel (again to Neal) in cover-up trial. Co-authored book with George Frampton, Stonewall: The Real Story of the Watergate Prosecution (1977). Defended Democratic Members of Congress caught in Abscam scandal in 1981, becoming Minority Counsel to House Judiciary Committee during Clinton impeachment hearings in 1998. Appointed Democratic member of 9/11 Commission in 2002.
William Bittman: Head of Criminal Division in RFK’s Department of Justice, becoming lead prosecutor in Pension Fraud Trial in Illinois in 1964, which resulted in a first Hoffa conviction. Also lead prosecutor in Bobby Baker case in Washington, DC. Later became Howard Hunt’s lawyer, becoming heavily involved in cover-up: coordinating efforts of defense counsel, relaying Hunt’s monetary and clemency requests and even receiving and distributing defense monies to Watergate break-in defendants. Extensively investigated for cover-up activities, but never indicted-even though so recommended by entire Watergate Task Force.
J. Fred Buzhardt: Key staffer to Senator Thurmond of South Carolina, becoming Chief Counsel of Department of Defense under Mel Laird. Became Nixon’s principal Watergate defense counsel following departure of Haldeman, Ehrlichman and Dean on April 30, 1973.
Donald Campbell: Along with Earl Silbert and Seymour Glanzer, the third and youngest member of original Watergate prosecution team from the US Attorney’s office.
Hillary Rodham Clinton: Yale Law ’73, protégé of Burke Marshall who placed her on House Judiciary Impeachment Inquiry as part of small group working under Marshall’s direction to aid Senator Kennedy; later married Bill Clinton, becoming First Lady in 1992. Later, Junior Senator from NY, first elected in 2000, Democratic presidential candidate in ’08, and Secretary of State in the Obama Administration.
Charles (“Chuck”) Colson: Special Counsel to President Nixon, known for aggressive campaign tactics-and statement that he would “run over his own grandmother to help re-elect the president.” Left White House after 1972 re-election, but later indicted in Plumbers Case. Pled guilty in dramatic religious conversion. Authored book, Born Again (1976). Founded Prison Fellowship Ministries and devoted remainder of his career to its support.
John Connolly: Protégé of Lyndon Johnson, becoming Secretary of the Navy under JFK. Three times Democratic Governor of Texas; was in Kennedy car and seriously wounded during JFK assassination in Dallas. Later became Nixon’s second Secretary of the Treasury, formally joining Republican Party following Nixon’s 1972 re-election. Thought to be Nixon’s first choice to succeed him as President in 1976, but indicted in Milk Producer’s case in 1975, which resulted in acquittal following trial in Texas–but ended his political career.
Archibald Cox: Harvard ’34, Harvard Law ’37, Harvard Law Professor and key member of JFK’s presidential campaign staff, heading both his issues analysis and speechwriting teams; Solicitor General in RFK’s Department of Justice; Legal advisor to Edward Kennedy and his choice as Special Prosecutor; fired in Saturday Night Massacre of October 19, 1973, taking all his WSPF papers with him, but leaving many with Harvard Law School’s special collections.
Sam Dash: Harvard Law ’50. Criminal Division attorney in Truman administration; chief counsel to Senate Watergate Committee. Authored book, Chief Counsel . Inside the Ervin Committee-The Untold Story of Watergate (1976). Later, was appointed Ethics Counsel to Independent Prosecutor Ken Starr in 1997 investigation of President Bill Clinton.
John Dean: Minority counsel to House Judiciary Committee and Associate Director of Brown Commission (1967-68) before becoming Associate Deputy AG in John Mitchell’s Department of Justice. Followed Ehrlichman as Counsel to President Nixon in June of 1970. Key figure in events leading to Watergate break-in and subsequent cover-up. Chief accuser of President Nixon and principal government witness in cover-up trial. Given shortest confinement of any major figure: 4 ½ months in witness holding facility at Fort Holabird, MD. Authored book, Blind Ambition, published in1976.
John Doar: Deputy Assistant AG under Burke Marshall in RFK’s Department of Justice; followed Marshall as Assistant AG. Chief Counsel of House Judiciary Impeachment Inquiry
James Doyle: Harvard Nieman Fellow ’65, Reporter for Washington Star who became WSPF Special Assistant for Public Affairs, with the claimed understanding that he would write a book about his experiences. That book, Not Above the Law, The Battles of Watergate Prosecutors Cox and Jaworski, was published in 1977. Doyle left no files with WSPF, but his book did contain many–perhaps unintended–revelations about WSPF origins and conduct.
John Ehrlichman: Nixon’s first Counsel, later Assistant to the President for Domestic Affairs and head of the Domestic Council. Accused by John Dean of directing cover-up, as well as Plumber’s break-in of Dr. Fielding’s office. Convicted on all counts in both Plumber’s t Trial and cover-up trial. Authored book, Witness to Power, The Nixon Years, published in 1982.
Sam Ervin: Harvard Law ’23; Senator from NC first elected in 1954; chaired Senate Watergate Committee and then retired from Senate. Published book, The Whole Truth, The Watergate Conspiracy, in 1980, when he was 84 years of age.
Mark Felt: Career FBI agent, rising to Associate Director under Hoover and named Deputy Director upon Hoover’s death. Disappointed that he was not named to succeed Hoover, he leaked investigatory and prosecutorial information to Bob Woodward, whose stories in the Washington Post inflamed the public and created the false impression the government was not moving quickly to close out the cover-up case. Resigned in June of 1973, while swearing in an FBI interview that he was not the Deep Throat named in Woodward’s 1974 book. His daughter claimed otherwise in an article published in Vanity Fair in 2005, even while Felt was too senile to confirm any details.
James Flug: Harvard ’59, Harvard Law ’63, active in RFK’s 1968 campaign, soon joining Edward Kennedy’s staff as Chief Counsel of Subcommittee on Administrative Practices and Procedures. Lead Kennedy staffer during successful opposition to Haynesworth and Carswell Supreme Court nominations. Led Subcommittee investigation of Nixon campaign practices in fall of 1972, as well as creation of Senate Watergate Committee. Key Kennedy staffer during Richardson confirmation hearings, including naming of Cox and creation of WSPF. Principal drafter of WSPF Guidelines. Counseled Dash regarding conduct of Ervin Hearings and Cox, Vorenberg and Heymann on conduct of WSPF investigations. While in private practice, was key aide to Edward Kennedy during 1980 campaign, as well as paymaster to Lenzner’s private investigation agency (IGI) during Kennedy’s Senate campaign. Returned to Kennedy staff on Senate Judiciary in 2006 to lead opposition to John Roberts and Samuel Alito Supreme Court nominations, albeit unsuccessfully.
Seymour Glanzer: Career federal prosecutor and one of three original Watergate prosecutors. Held series of extraordinary meeting with Dean’s lawyer, Charles Shaffer, during which he may have confided much of the prosecution’s information, beliefs and strategy. Glanzer confided his recollections of initial meeting with John Dean to WSPF attorneys in October of 1973, documenting Dean’s changing story and characterizing it as ‘changing dramatically’, but this information was never shared with Watergate defense counsel.
Pat Gray: Assistant AG in charge of Civil Division and nominated to be Deputy AG following Kleindienst’s promotion to AG. Nomination withdrawn upon J. Edgar Hoover’s death, when Gray was named Acting FBI Director. Granted Dean’s request for access to FBI investigatory information and accepted (and later destroyed) secret contents from Howard Hunt’s White House safe–all of which came out during his confirmation hearings, resulting in his nomination being withdrawn. Book about his year as Acting FBI Director, In Nixon’s Web: A Year in the Crosshairs of Watergate, was published in 2008 by his son, Ed Gray
Alexander Haig: Kissinger’s deputy at National Security Council and later Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff at Pentagon. Named Nixon’s Chief of Staff following Haldeman’s departure. Some believe Haig was involved in the military spy ring operating in the White House under Admiral Welander.
H. R (Bob) Haldeman: Nixon’s first Chief of Staff, considered by many to be Nixon’s staunchest supporter. Was accused by John Dean of full participation in cover-up and convicted on all counts in cover-up trial. Authored book, The Ends of Power, published in 1978. Additionally, his diaries, The Haldeman Diaries: Inside the Nixon White House, were published posthumously in 1994.
Phillip Heymann: Yale ’34, Harvard Law ’40, Cox student and protégé, serving with him in Solicitor General’s office under RFK, then becoming Harvard Law Professor. Senior WSPF leader and initial head of Plumber’s Task Force. Left virtually no papers in WSPF files. Later head of Criminal Division under President Carter and Deputy AG under President Clinton. Resigned following clash with Bernard Nussbaum over access to Vincent Foster’s office following his suicide.
Howard Hunt: Former CIA operations officer who worked as consultant to White House staff for both Charles Colson and Gordon Liddy. Helped plan and direct both the Plumber’s break-in of Dr. Fielding’s office and the Watergate break-ins, supplying Cuban Americans as helpers. Played lead role in cover-up, relaying monetary and clemency requests to Dean, Colson and LaRue.
Leon Jaworski: Special Counsel to RFK’s Department of Justice and founder of Dallas law firm of Fulbright & Jaworski. Named Special Prosecutor following Cox’s firing in October of 1973. Characterized as prisoner of Cox’s staff who saw his job as hurrying along the inevitable. Left virtually no papers with WSPF, but said to be in collection left to Baylor University (recently recovered by National Archives). Authored book, The Right and the Power, The Prosecutions of Watergate, published in 1977. A separate book published in 2005, On American Soil, detailed how as the Army’s lead prosecutor of a court martial during World War II, he withheld exculpatory evidence from defense counsel. Army vacated those verdicts in 2007.
Edward Kennedy: Harvard, ’56, youngest of Kennedy family, Senator from Massachusetts, first elected in 1962. Political career severely damaged in Chappaquiddick incident in July, 1969 with the drowning of Mary Jo Kopechne. Principal beneficiary of Watergate scandal and widely expected to run for President in 1976. Did enter primaries in 1980, but lost to incumbent James Carter (who subsequently lost to Ronald Reagan). Was the second longest serving Senator of all time when he died in 2009.
John Kennedy: Harvard, ’40, elected to Congress in ’46, to the Senate in ’52, successfully opposed Nixon for President in 1960, winning exceptionally close election characterized by allegations of voter corruption in Illinois and Texas. Assassinated in Dallas on November 22, 1963.
Robert Kennedy: Harvard, ’48, UVA Law ’51. Chief Counsel to McClellan Rackets Committee (1957-1959) investigating organized crime’s influence in labor unions, which led to his life-long personal vendetta against Teamster President James Hoffa. Appointed John Kennedy’s Attorney General at age 35, continued pursuit through dedicated “Get Hoffa” Squad that ultimately secured convictions in both Jury Tampering case in Tennessee and Pension Fraud case in Illinois. Thought to be second most powerful man in government because of extraordinarily close relationship with JFK. Stayed at AG under President Johnson in hopes of being named his vice presidential running mate in 1964. When disappointed, successfully ran for Senate from NY, challenging Johnson for President in 1968, where he was assassinated immediately following victory in key California primary, June 5, 1968. Perhaps the best book on his years as Attorney General is Kennedy Justice by Victor Navasky, published in 1971.
Richard Kleindienst: Deputy AG under John Mitchell, elevated to AG following his resignation to head the CRP. Refused to accede to Dean’s demand for access to FBI investigatory information during cover-up and facilitated Henry Petersen’s face-to-face meetings with Nixon following cover-up’s collapse, but resigned (along with Haldeman and Ehrlichman) because of closeness to John Mitchell.
Fred LaRue: Southern lawyer and key architect of Nixon’s Southern Strategy who became key Mitchell aide at the CRP and helped distribute cover-up money to Watergate break-in defendants. Present at March meeting when Magruder said Mitchell approved Liddy’s campaign intelligence plan, but denied event occurred (even after pleading guilty and becoming a government witness)
Terry Lenzner: Harvard ’61, Harvard Law ’64. Fired as OEO counsel by Nixon Administration; deputy counsel to Ervin Committee; founded Investigative Group International in 1984, a private investigation firm whose political investigations focus on opponents to Democratic candidates, including Edward Kennedy and Bill Clinton.
Gordon Liddy: Former FBI agent and assistant district attorney in NY, originally receiving political appointment to Treasury Department. Hired onto White House staff in 1971, becoming operations director of Plumbers Unit, where he organized their break-in into Dr. Fielding’s office. Joined the CRP in December as Counsel with responsibilities for Campaign Intelligence Plan. Planned and directed Watergate break-ins, arrested shortly after second event. Refused to cooperate in investigation, becoming “the iron man of Watergate” and serving the longest sentence of all–over four years.. Authored book, Will, the Autobiography of G. Gordon Liddy, published in 1980.
Jeb Stuart Magruder: Former PR executive, joining Nixon Administration early in first term. Acting Director of the CRP and later Mitchell’s Chief of Staff. Sought Mitchell approval for Liddy’s Campaign Intelligence Plan, claiming approval during third meeting (March 30, 1972). Received and shared information from illegally installed wire-taps and improperly photographed files. Kept at the CRP during cover-up, perjuring himself before Watergate grand jury. Became government witness upon cover-up’s collapse, second in importance only to John Dean at cover-up trial. Authored book, An American Life, One Man’s Road to Watergate, published in 1974.
Burke Marshall: Yale ’44, Yale Law ’51. Lawyer active in JFK campaign, becoming Assistant AG for Civil Rights in RFK’s Department of Justice. Remained key family counselor after returning to private practice and even after becoming Yale Law professor. First person contacted by Edward Kennedy following Chappaquiddick incident. Thought to be Edward Kennedy’s first choice to be Attorney General in 1976 and alleged to have masterminded staff conduct during House Judiciary Impeachment Inquiry, including slowing inquiry, preventing any review of Kennedy administration, and suppressing critical evidence for the benefit of Senator Kennedy.
Thomas McBride: Columbia Law ’56. Trial lawyer for Organized Crime Task Force in RFK’s Department of Justice; later joining the Peace Corps as Deputy Director for Latin America. First head of WSPF Campaign Finance Task Force. Later became associate dean of Stanford Law School (1982-1989)
James McCord: Former CIA wiretap expert who was CRP’s Director of Security and participated in both Watergate break-ins. Refused to plead guilty during cover-up and fired his lawyer just before trial for urging him to do so. Following conviction, but before sentencing, wrote letter to Sirica alleging there had been a cover-up–whose release is credited with causing its collapse. Unsuccessfully tried to have his own conviction overturned when cover-up was revealed. Later wrote second letter to Sirica alleging improper conduct by Ben-Veniste, including pressure on him to conform his story to that of other government witnesses. Authored book, A Piece of Tape, published in 1974.
John Mitchell: Bond lawyer at Nixon’s Wall Street law firm (Mudge, Rose), working on campaign and becoming Nixon’s first Attorney General. Resigned on March 1, 1972 to direct the CRP, but had met twice with Liddy/Magruder/Dean in AG’s office to discuss Campaign Intelligence Plan. Originator of stonewall defense during cover-up. Later convicted on all counts in cover-up trial. Book by James Rosen, The Strong Man, John Mitchell and the Secrets of Watergate, published in 2008, offers well documented portrayal of Michel’s role in Watergate.
Clark Mollenhoff: Longtime political reporter for Des Moines Register, who gave strong support to RFK in his pursuit of Jimmy Hoffa. Served briefly on Nixon White House staff as ethics consultant, but resigned over inaccessibility to Nixon. Met privately with Judge Sirica to urge aggressive pursuit of full truth in break-in trial, following up with positive news articles about the judge. Also took credit for convincing Magruder to approach federal prosecutors. Authored book, Game Plan for Disaster, an Ombudsman’s Report on the Nixon Years, published in 1976.
James Neal: Key member of RFK’s “Get Hoffa” Squad, securing (withco-counsel Charles Shaffer) conviction for jury tampering in trial in Tennessee in 1964. First head of Watergate Task Force and lead trial counsel in cover-up trial. Later defended Al Gore in 1996 Buddhist Temple fund-raising scandal, successfully preventing appointment of Independent Prosecutor.
Bernard Nussbaum: Harvard Law ’61, key House Judiciary Impeachment Inquiry lawyer responsible for Watergate investigation; later Clinton’s first Counsel to President, forced to resign in 1994 for contacting prosecutors about current cases.
Henry Petersen: Career federal prosecutor, ultimately serving with twelve Attorneys General and rising to head of Criminal Division. Supervised Watergate break-in prosecutions and demanded Haldeman and Ehrlichman resignations in face-to-face meetings with Nixon following Dean’s allegations. Removed from cover-up case by WSPF in first month, but later testifying that prosecutor’s had case 95% completed before Special Prosecutor was named.
Elliot Richardson: Harvard ’41, Harvard Law ’47. Key moderate member of Nixon Cabinet, serving as Undersecretary of State, Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, Secretary of Defense and Attorney General (following Kleindienst’s resignation). Conditioned acceptance of latter post upon ability to name special supervising prosecutor. Nixon’s concurrence was turned upside down when Richardson agreed to full un-reviewed independence, unlimited budget and unprecedented Congressional oversight during his confirmation–culminating in acceptance of Kennedy’s candidate, Archibald Cox, as Special Prosecutor. Resigned following inability to negotiate compromise regarding transcripts of WH tapes, precipitating Saturday Night Massacre of October 19, 1973. Returned as Secretary of Commerce under President Ford and later Ambassador to the United Kingdom.
Charles Ruff: Columbia Law ’63. Deputy of WSPF Campaign Finance Task Force, heading investigations into virtually every aspect of Republican fund-raising. Became Special Prosecutor upon Ruth’s resignation following release of WSPF Report in October of 1974. Woodward interview in June 1977, when closing office predicted investigation of WSPF conduct, “because a lot of judgment calls were made”. Later became US Attorney for District of Columbia. Acted as counsel to Anita Hill during Clarence Thomas’; 1991 confirmation hearings. Became Counsel to President Clinton following Nussbaum’s 1994 resignation, acting as his chief lawyer during 1997 Senate impeachment trial.
Charles Shaffer: Key member of RFK’s “Get Hoffa” Squad, securing (with co-counsel James Neal) 1964 conviction for jury tampering in Tennessee; then RFK plant on Warren Commission, whose role was to report back to RFK whether organized crime had any role in his brother’s assassination. John Dean’s criminal defense counsel throughout Watergate, beginning March 28, 1973. His brilliant and resourceful defense, coupled with his Kennedy connections, successfully portrayed Dean as a victim rather than the cover-up’s key perpetrator.
Walter Sheridan: Former FBI agent (but not attorney), who headed RFK’s “Get Hoffa” Squad. The first person whose whereabouts was requested by Cox upon reaching agreement with Richardson to become Special Prosecutor.
Earl Silbert: Harvard Law ’60, career prosecutor and principal assistant US attorney during Watergate. Lead prosecutor of Watergatebreak-in trial and author of three key Watergate memos: The first dated September 15, 1972, the day the initial Watergate indictments were handed down, outlining strategy for breaking cover-up; the second dated May 31, 1974, summarizing initial meetings with John Dean during which his story altered (characterized as “gradually escalating” his accusations) and the third dated June 7, 1973, and is an 87 page summary of the cover-up and outline of prosecution strategy-which differs little from WSPF case presented at the cover-up trial over 18 months later. Quickly removed from Watergate case once WSPF learned of their experience, knowledge and expertise. .Later became US Attorney for the District of Columbia in his own right.
John Sirica: Chief Judge of DC District Court and self-appointed judge for Watergate break-in and cover-up trials, meeting privately with prosecutors in both cases. In his later book, he admitted advancing John Dean’s sentencing to improve his credibility in cover-up trial–and then freeing him immediately following its conclusion. Authored book, To Set the Record Straight: The Break-in. The Tapes, The Conspirators, The Pardon, published in 1979. Left papers, including five drafts of his book, with Library of Congress.
Maurice Stans: Nixon’s Secretary of Commerce and chief CRP fundraiser. Indicted in Vesco case, but acquitted following trial in NY. Thoroughly investigated by Campaign Finance Task Force, ultimately pleading guilty to two technical violations. Wrote bitter book, The Terrors of Justice, published in 1978 about the investigations entitled Terrors of Justice.
Fred Thompson: Senior manager in Senator Baker’s 1972 campaign; named by him minority counsel to the Senate Watergate Committee. Authored book, At That Point In Time, The Inside Story of the Senate Watergate Committee, published in 1975. Later elected Senator in his own right, becoming prominent actor and presidential candidate for ’08.
James Vorenberg: Harvard ’49, Harvard Law ’51, Harvard Law Professor who headed RFK’s Office of Criminal Justice; senior WSPF leader, responsible for all initial staffing decisions and principal author of 1974 WSPF Report. Took all his WSPF papers with him, but may have left some to Harvard Law School’s special collection.
Lowell Weicker: Senator from Connecticut, first elected in 1970; minority member of Ervin Committee, neighbor of John Dean who cast key vote for immunity, later purchased Dean’s townhouse to facilitate Dean’s relocation to LA. Became strong Kennedy supporter on Senate Labor Committee, again supplying key vote to enable Kennedy control of the Committee even after Republicans took control of the Senate in 1980. Defeated in 1988 and left Republican Party, successfully ran for Governor in 1970 as an Independent, promptly reversing his pledge to oppose any state income tax. Authored book, Maverick, A Life in Politics, published in 1995.
Bob Woodward: Cub reporter for the Washington Post, who (along with Carl Bernstein) authored many early and dramatic Watergate disclosures and created the persona of an investigative reporter. Their role, described in their 1976 bestselling book, All the President’s Men, published in 1974, was later made into a movie starring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman. The book (and movie) postulated the existence of a secret, prime source-known as Deep Throat–who confided in Woodward the sordid details of Nixon White House wrongdoing. Followed up with a second book, The Final Days, published in 1976. In 2005, Mark Felt’s daughter claimed that he was Deep Throat and Woodward rushed another book into print, The Secret Man, The Story of Watergate’s Deep Throat, describing their relationship.
Jerry Zeifman: Long-time Chief Counsel of House Judiciary Committee, before and after Watergate; later (1994) published his diaries of that period, Without Honor, The Impeachment of Richard Nixon and the Crimes of Camelot, claiming the Inquiry staff had been controlled by Burke Marshall and had purposefully delayed investigation and kept critical evidence from Committee members, for the purpose of aiding Edward Kennedy’s expected 1976 presidential run. He followed this up with a short book devoted to the Clintons, Hillary’s Pursuit of Power, in 2006.
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