G. Gordon Liddy, a brash former FBI agent who helped orchestrate the 1972 Watergate robbery, a felony that began the collapse of Richard Nixon’s presidency, died Tuesday at the age of 90.
Liddy, who turned his Watergate infamy into a 20-year career as a conservative radio talker, has died at his daughter’s home in Fairfax County, Va., According to the newspaper.
His son, Thomas P. Liddy, confirmed the death but did not give a cause, saying only that he was not linked to COVID-19. Liddy’s death was first reported by the Washington Post.
Liddy, born George Gordon Battle Liddy, was one of the famous White House “plumbers” whose job it was to patch up media leaks from the Nixon administration. His portfolio on the Nixon committee to re-elect president was “dirty tricks” – and he approached the job with enthusiasm.
He and his colleague E. Howard Hunt, a former CIA agent, came up with schemes so far-fetched and illegal that their superiors often hushed them up. Among them was a plot to kill investigative columnist Jack Anderson, a staunch critic of Nixon; to have anti-war protesters at the Republican National Committee of San Diego in 1972 kidnapped and taken across the Mexican border; and lure Democratic Party officials to a party with prostitutes.
But not all of their plans were rejected. In 1971, months before the Watergate robbery, Liddy was part of the heist at the offices of a psychiatrist who saw Daniel Ellsberg, a former US military analyst who had leaked top secret Pentagon documents about the US war in Vietnam. .
Then came the heist that would undo Nixon. Liddy and Hunt came up with a plan to enter the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate Resort in Washington as Nixon sought re-election in 1972.
The heist went awry, which led to an investigation, cover-up, and Nixon’s resignation in 1974.
After his team was arrested, Liddy was convicted of conspiracy, burglary and wiretapping for the Watergate and Ellsberg robberies.
He was sentenced to 20 years in prison and served nearly five years before being released – thanks to a 1977 commutation from then-Democratic President Jimmy Carter, who felt his sentence was disproportionate to that imposed to other Watergate criminals.
Unlike his six co-defendants, Liddy refused to cooperate with prosecutors, leading a judge to add 18 months to the prison sentence because he would not answer questions from a grand jury.
Liddy’s jail time was the longest of any Watergate character, but it went unapologetically.
“I would do it again for my president,” he said years later.
He was also proud of not cooperating with the grand jury while exposing those who did. He was driving a Rolls-Royce with a license plate marked “H20-GATE”.
“Manly, vigorous and powerful!
After jail, Liddy started a safety investigation company, wrote bestselling books, and had a few acting roles on television and in movies. In 1992, he became the host of a Washington-based radio talk show that eventually aired on over 225 stations. He retired in 2012.
With an upright posture and a brushed mustache, Liddy was known for his bravado. He boasted that he could hold his hand over a flame without flinching and talked about being able to kill a person with just a pencil. When callers to his radio show asked him how he was doing, he barked, “Manly, vigorous and powerful!”
Liddy said he was a wimp in his childhood until he decided to do something about it. In his 1980 autobiography Will be, he said he was inspired by the tenor of Adolf Hitler’s speeches that his family’s German maid listened to on the radio and was determined to make a man of himself.
“If an entire nation could be transformed, raised from weakness to extraordinary strength, only one person could do it,” Liddy wrote.
Liddy decided it was essential to face his fears and overcome them. At 11, he roasted a rat and ate it to overcome his fear of them.
In 2001, the belief reported by Liddy that the Watergate robbery was intended to cover up a call girl line operated from the Democratic headquarters was a key element in a libel suit against him by Ida “Maxie” Wells, a secretary in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. democratic seat. at the time of the burglary.
According to the Washington Post, Liddy has said in at least two speeches that Nixon’s attorney John Dean orchestrated the heist to steal photos of scantily clad prostitutes, including Dean’s girlfriend, from Wells’ office.
A federal jury reached an impasse and the case was dismissed.
Born November 30, 1930 in New York City, Liddy received a BA from Fordham University in 1952 and a law degree from Fordham Law School in 1957.
After two years of service in the United States Army, Liddy became an FBI special agent before resigning in 1962 to practice law in Manhattan. He then served as a prosecutor in Dutchess County in New York, where he was known to carry a pistol in court. “He believed passionately in the dangers of drugs, criminals and communists,” a New York Times profile said in 1973.
As a district attorney he was involved in the 1960s raid on Timothy Leary, the former Harvard professor and LSD advocate who had a commune near Poughkeepsie, New York. In the 1980s, the two men hiked the country to initiate debates on moral and social issues.
Liddy unsuccessfully sought election to the US Congress in New York’s 28th District in 1968, but that year he played an important role in Nixon’s presidential campaign in the district.
Liddy and his wife, Frances, who died in 2010, had five children.