During the past five years, we witnessed high-level FBI targeting of candidate Donald Trump based on an unreliable dossier produced by Trump’s political enemies that resulted in FISA warrants being issued by federal judges to allow surveillance of Trump allies during and after the 2016 presidential campaign and election, a special prosecutor’s office staffed largely with President Trump’s political opponents pursuing those same unreliable accusations of Trump-Russia collusion, Democratic-controlled congressional investigations of President Trump that resulted in two partisan impeachments of the president, and national media outlets — that proudly wear their hatred of Trump on their sleeves — promoting efforts to remove Trump from office. According to author and former Nixon Deputy White House Counsel Geoff Shepard, we have been here before. It all happened during Watergate.
The long accepted conventional truths about Watergate are as follows: Richard Nixon was the chief villain, having authorized a cover-up of the break-in at the office of the Democratic National Committee; John Dean of the White House Counsel’s Office was one of the heroes, who courageously worked with government prosecutors and agents to produce evidence of White House criminality; the Special Prosecutor’s Office and staff followed the evidence and the law to seek justice; Chief Judge John Sirica presided fairly and impartially over the criminal cases; and the nation’s press — especially Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein, and the Washington Post — spoke the truth to power to help uncover a scandal that reached into the Oval Office and thereby saved our constitutional republic.
Geoff Shepard, who worked as a young lawyer in the Nixon White House, has devoted more than a decade of research into the details of Watergate. In 2015, Shepard’s book The Real Watergate Scandal revealed what he called evidence of collusion between the Special Prosecutor’s Office — staffed primarily with longtime Nixon political enemies (many from the John F. Kennedy Justice Department) — and Judge Sirica, including a number of ethically-questionable ex parte meetings about the criminal cases and the congressional investigations of the White House.
Now, Shepard has produced a second, more damning, book — The Nixon Conspiracy: Watergate and the Plot to Remove the President. It is billed as a shocking exposé of corrupt collusion between prosecutors, judges, and congressional staff to undo Nixon’s historic 1972 election, and it is based in part on recently unearthed internal documents, notes, and memos by Watergate special prosecutors. Shepard’s conclusion is that Nixon was innocent, the special prosecutors and Judge Sirica abused their powers, and the national press corps — whose hatred of Nixon dated back to the Alger Hiss Case — worked relentlessly to bring down a popular president.
Shepard explained his journey from initially believing that Nixon was guilty based on the so-called “smoking gun” tape to his subsequent painstaking, relentless search for the truth in a nine-part series of interviews he did with Hugh Hewitt at the Nixon Library last year.
The Woodward-Bernstein version of Watergate, which was embellished in the movie All the President’s Men, first suffered cracks in its intellectual edifice when author Jim Hougan wrote Secret Agenda in 1984. That was followed in 1991 by Silent Coup: The Removal of a President by Len Colodny and Robert Gettlin. Both books suggested partisan and institutional (“deep state”) motives for the plot to bring down Nixon, and focused on possible CIA and DOD motives for “getting” Nixon. Both books suffered the slings and arrows of disdain and ridicule by the mainstream media.
But Shepard’s focus in the interviews and his new book is not the CIA or the FBI or the DOD, but rather the special prosecutor’s office staffed with Nixon’s political opponents and untethered to any institutional guidance or limitations. Just as Robert Kennedy as Attorney General had a “get Hoffa” squad in DOJ, Shepard accuses the Watergate special prosecutor’s office of being a “get Nixon” squad. And he accuses the special prosecutor’s office of colluding with Judge Sirica and congressional Democrats to bring about Nixon’s downfall.
In the interviews with Hugh Hewitt, Shepard suggests that had there been an alternative media in 1973-1974 — Fox News, Talk Radio, etc. — Nixon may have survived. But back then, the American people mostly had to rely on ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, the Washington Post and the New York Times — all institutions that helped drive Nixon from office (Paul Johnson called Watergate a “media putsch”), and those same media institutions have never hidden their dislike and disdain for Donald Trump. The difference was that Trump had media support that questioned and ultimately exposed the false Trump-Russia collusion narrative.
Shepard’s interviews with Hewitt will never receive the media attention they deserve, and his new book will likely be dismissed (if mentioned at all) by the mainstream media. Hopefully, the alternative media will publicize Shepard’s quest to finally expose the real truths of Watergate.
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