Boston Globe: Was Fred a mole for Nixon?

As if he won’t have a hard enough time distancing himself from number two on the all-time list of presidential unfavorables, now he’s got to distance himself from number one as well.


We had to relive Vietnam in the last election, now we’ll get to relive Watergate in this one. Who’ll be eligible to run in 2012 that was associated with Iran-Contra?

“Thompson was a mole for the White House,” [Scott] 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.”…

On July 13, 1973, Armstrong, the Democratic staffer, asked Butterfield a series of questions during a private session that led up to the revelation. He then turned the questioning over to a Republican staffer, Don Sanders, who asked [Nixon aide Alexander] Butterfield the question that led to the mention of the taping system.

To the astonishment of everyone in the room, Butterfield admitted the taping system existed.

When Thompson learned of Butterfield’s admission, he leaked the revelation to Nixon’s counsel, J. Fred Buzhardt.

“Even though I had no authority to act for the committee, I decided to call Fred Buzhardt at home” to tell him that the committee had learned about the taping system, Thompson wrote [in his Watergate memoir, “At That Point In Time”]. “I wanted to be sure that the White House was fully aware of what was to be disclosed so that it could take appropriate action.”

Armstrong said he and other Democratic staffers had long been convinced that Thompson was leaking information about the investigation to the White House. The committee, for example, had obtained a memo written by Buzhardt that Democratic staffers believed was based on information leaked by Thompson.

Armstrong said he thought the leaks would lead to Thompson’s firing.


This could actually be fertile ground for a Democratic attack in the general if they flesh it out and try to tie it in to Bush’s warrantless wiretapping program. Not because the circumstances are similar in any material way, but because it would put Fred in a box with Bush and Nixon as shady, secretive, more-of-the-same Republicans. The problem is, how do they get around the fact that he did indeed ask Butterfield the famous question about listening devices and his general reputation for, er, law and order? And what Republican would dare pursue this line of attack in the primary?

Update: Given Fred’s vociferous support for pardoning Libby, they don’t really need this for a “more of the same” attack, do they?

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