The son of the acting director of the FBI during the Watergate scandal said claims being made about his father are "categorically false" and that L. Patrick Gray does not belong on the long list of Watergate criminals and miscreants from the Nixon White House.
Ed Gray said he would be contacting high-profile figures from the Watergate era whom he felt had defamed his father. The comments were made during television interviews following the May 31 revelation by his father's former assistant, W. Mark Felt, that he was "Deep Throat," the anonymous source for The Washington Post reporters who broke the Watergate scandal.
Gray specifically singled out a few offending quotes, including one from reporter Carl Bernstein, who said on CNN that Felt "was disappointed that the FBI that he loved and revered was being misused as part of a criminal conspiracy by J. Edgar Hoover's successor, Patrick Gray III."
Another was by Terry Lenzner, former chief investigator for the Senate Watergate Committee, who told ABC News' "Nightline" that Felt's "motive was that he thought that Gray was cooperating with the cover-up. And Gray, himself, took investigative files out of the bureau, involving the Watergate investigation, and threw them in the Potomac River."
Former Post executive editor Ben Bradlee, who was also singled out by Ed Gray for telling ABC News' "Nightline" that Patrick Gray threw documents into the Potomac, was eager to correct the record. "I made a mistake about him throwing things into the river," Bradlee said. "He did burn two envelopes, I'm told, but he did not throw documents into the river, though God knows I've heard the story over the years."
Bernstein could not be reached for comment but Lenzner insisted that, in the course of his interview of Gray for the committee, "he told me that he had taken files of the Watergate investigation and had driven them out to a bridge and had thrown them in a river."
Lenzner said he recalls the interview vividly since, as supporting evidence, Gray "showed me a little book in which he kept a record of everywhere he drove in his government car, including the time and the mileage. He was keeping that as a record so the government would reimburse him for the travel or the gas." Lenzner said he contacted Mark Lackritz, his former deputy on the Senate Watergate Committee, who shared his recollection. Lackritz could not be reached for comment.
But Gray's attorney during Watergate, Stephen H. Sachs, vehemently disputed Lenzner's recollection. "It didn't happen; it's inconceivable," said Sachs, "and I was with him at every single interview he had." Sachs said for decades he has heard his former client described as having dumped Watergate evidence in the Potomac, but it's simply not true. "If he had destroyed Watergate evidence, he would have been indicted along with everyone else," Sachs said.
Lenzner told ABC News he would look for back-up materials.
"If he has notes that say that, they were doodles," Sachs said, "because it never happened."