The Fred Thompson Watergate Myth

"We're going to work with him over the weekend," Buzhardt said. "We are hoping, though, to work with Thompson and prepare him if Dean does appear next week, to do a very thorough cross-examination."

On June 11, 1973, Buzhardt told Nixon that the preparation had gone well.

"I found, uh, uh, Thompson most cooperative, feeling more Republican every day," Buzhardt said.

"Really?" asked Nixon.

"So he tells me," Buzhardt said, calling Thompson "perfectly prepared to assist in really doing a cross-examination." He called him "far more cooperative really than I expected him to be. He's willing to go, you know, pretty much the distance now. And he said he realized his responsibility was going to have be as a Republican increasingly."

"He realizes that Ervin, et al., and Dash are being totally political, does he?"

"Right," said Buzhardt, who then said that Thompson said he wanted to more aggressively defend the president but was being restrained by Baker. "[H]e says Baker's aware of it" -- how "political" things were getting -- "but he was quite candid with us; he thinks Baker will move much more slowly than he will let Thompson move."

"Right," said Nixon.

A few days after that conversation, Thompson's public question about Nixon's tapes -- regardless of his motivation -- helped bring about the end of the Nixon presidency, inadvertently or not.

"It's one of life's ironies that history gets twisted to show the vulgar is the noble," said Armstrong.

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