Entries in Watergate (4)


Bachmann: Scandals Facing White House 'Far Worse Than Watergate'

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Congressman Michele Bachmann Thursday called the various scandals facing the White House “far worse than Watergate,” blaming the Obama administration for “direct actions taken against Americans who sought to exercise their free speech rights under the First Amendment.”

Bachmann, who ran for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination and currently chairs the Tea Party caucus, held a press conference on Thursday attended by various other conservative luminaries to criticize the administration not just for the IRS targeting Tea Party groups but the Justice Department seizing phone records of Associated Press reporters and the ongoing controversy surrounding last year’s deadly attack on the diplomatic mission in Benghazi.

The Minnesota Republican and her GOP allies suggested that if the White House wasn’t complicit in various cover-ups, at the very least, the administration is guilty of allowing the federal government to abuse its already massive powers.

As for the IRS singling out groups affiliated with the Tea Party and various other conservative causes, Bachmann expressed concerns that the White House might go to any lengths to impede the activities of anyone that doesn't march in lockstep with the president’s policies.

Asked whether she thought the various scandals are impeachable offenses, Bachmann measured her words, saying, “We also don’t want to jump to conclusions, we want to go where the facts lead us. We aren’t interested in creating our own facts.”

However, she promised multiple investigations to get to the bottom of the IRS scandal while chief executive Jordan Sekulow of the conservative American Center for Law and Justice said his group will bring a lawsuit against the IRS on Tea Party groups’ behalf next week.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Chuck Colson, Nixon 'Hatchet Man' Turned Preacher, Dead at 80 

Stephen Jaffe/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Chuck Colson, a self-described "hatchet man" for the Nixon administration, who served seven months in prison for Watergate-related crimes before starting a Christian prison ministry, died on Saturday. He was 80 years old.

Colson died Saturday afternoon from complications resulting from a brain hemorrhage at the Fairfax Inova Hospital in Fairfax, Virginia, according to his website. His wife, Patty, and other family members were with Colson when he died.

On March 31, 2012 Colson received emergency surgery for a blood clot on his brain after becoming sick at a speaking engagement the day before. Colson had been in critical condition since the surgery, and was kept in intensive care.

Indicted in 1974 for his role in attempting to cover up the Watergate burglary, Colson arranged a plea deal in which he confessed to his role in obstructing justice in another investigation. Colson admitted to organizing a break-in at the psychiatrist office of Daniel Ellsberg, the whistleblower who brought to light the Nixon administration’s Vietnam War strategy with what would come to be called the Pentagon Papers.

Colson served as President Nixon's special counsel from 1969 to 1973, and became the first of the so-called Watergate Seven to serve prison time for their roles in a series of crimes including the break-in and cover up at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, DC.

Colson had a reputation for ruthlessness in the administration. Associated with Nixon's Committee to Re-elect the President, or CREEP, Colson put together a list informally known as Nixon's Enemies List, comprised of political opponents. He was widely quoted in the media for saying he would drive over his own grandmother to keep Nixon in the White House.

Soon after his arrest, Colson became a born-again Christian. Derided at the time for his courthouse conversion, conservative commenter William Buckley called it a "huge joke."

In 1974, Colson served seven months of a three-year sentence for obstruction of justice related to the Ellsberg case.

Not long after his release from prison, in 1976, Colson founded Prison Fellowship, which eventually became the world's largest prison ministry, operating in detention facilities in 113 countries.

"I've worked with, quite literally, thousands of men and women in hundreds of prisons all over the world and I have seen countless conversions," Colson told ABC News in 2007. "Prison is a tough environment with few distractions, there is ample time to take a hard look at yourself."

Colson's own conversion made him a darling of the religious right. GOP presidential contender and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum routinely invokes Colson's story on the stump.

"I love him and pray for him and his family," Santorum told ABC News through his spokeswoman.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Nixon Seen as ‘Self-Pitying,’ ‘Whiny’ in Released Watergate Testimony

David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Less than 12 miles from the Watergate apartments, documents containing former President Richard Nixon’s grand jury testimony about the scandal that bears the building’s name were released to the public on Thursday.

“It’s Nixon being Nixon,” said Stanley Kutler, one of the foremost historians on Nixon and the Watergate scandal.  “He whines, he’s self-pitying, he’s assertive, he’s saying ‘I don’t recall, I don’t recollect’ perhaps several thousand times -- at least several hundred.”

He even refers to the burglary, which eventually forced him out of office under threat of impeachment, as that “silly, incredible Watergate break-in.”

Nixon testified about his administration’s involvement in the 1972 break-in at the Democratic National Headquarters at the Watergate complex 10 months after he resigned from office.  It was the first time in history that a former president had given evidence under oath.

The unveiling of that testimony to the public on Thursday marks a similarly rare occurrence, as grand jury testimony is almost always kept confidential.

Kutler, along with a team of others, successfully sued for the release of the more than 700 pages of transcripts, memos and testimony.

While those thousands of hours of tapes add shading to the already painted picture of Nixon’s character, it is the infamous 18.5-minute gap in the tape recordings of an Oval Office conversation that prosecutors were most interested in when they interviewed the former president under penalty of perjury for two days in 1975.

“I know a lot of people want to find out what happened during the 18.5-minute gap, but he doesn’t say,” said David Paynter, an archivist in the Special Access Division of the National Archives.  “He just says that was just one meeting the day he’d come back from a time in Florida.  In fact it was 18 minutes out of an entire day, so it’s not something he recalled.”

No matter how many times -- and there were many -- that prosecutors questioned Nixon about the missing conversation, Nixon’s only response over the 11 hours of questioning was that he was shocked to find out that much time was missing.

“I practically blew my stack,” Nixon said of finding out that nearly 20 minutes of the tape had disappeared.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Richard Nixon Library Gets Watergate Overhaul

David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images(YORBA LINDA, Calif.) -- The Richard Nixon Library has unveiled what it says is a vastly expanded and more balanced Watergate exhibit, one that library director Tim Naftali said will "let the historical chips fall where they may."

"The public deserves non-partisan history for its taxpayer money," Naftali said of the exhibits, run by the National Archives since coming under federal control in 2007. "When you come to the library, you'll see a commitment to honesty and transparency."

The once-privately-owned library came under fire after the Richard Nixon Foundation opened it in 1990 and displayed what some historians denounced as a swayed view of Nixon's presidency. The part of the library on the Watergate scandal had paltry documentation and portrayed mostly Nixon's perspective of the story, including a view of Watergate as a "coup" by Nixon's rivals.

But the new $500,000 makeover unveiled Thursday brings new presidential papers to the forefront and adds oral histories by 131 historical figures, many involved with the Watergate scandal that led to Nixon's resignation on Aug. 8, 1974.

Visitors can see burglar tools allegedly used to break into the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate Hotel complex and a listening device tied to the scandal.

They can hear the editing clicks on audiotape where 18 1/2 minutes of White House recordings possibly pertinent to a Watergate cover-up infamously got erased.

The library now has 40 hours of interactive content on display that Naftali calls "iPad history." Clicking on a display called "dirty tricks," visitors can listen to Nixon ordering Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., investigated.

In short, the new permanent exhibit aims to be historically accurate and not to spin history in Nixon's favor.

Besides the Nixon Library, the National Archives now oversees 12 other presidential libraries.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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