Richard Nixon officially resigned from the office of the presidency 40 years ago Saturday, the only U.S. commander-in-chief ever to do so. After his administration’s connection to the Watergate scandal and subsequent cover-up, the disgraced president stepped down, passing on the torch to Gerald Ford.
Though Nixon did resign before being convicted by the Senate, and received a presidential pardon from Ford in 1974, other members of his administration were not quite so lucky. Some of those involved in the Watergate scandal served time in prison, others received reduced sentences in exchange for testimony. Many officials were not implicated at all.
ABC News took a look at what officials from the Nixon era have been up to since.
Henry Kissinger, 91, served as a national security adviser and secretary of state under Nixon and Ford. Kissinger was not implicated in the Watergate scandal. But as the Atlantic’s Sage Stossel notes, “To this day, Kissinger’s legacy remains a matter of controversy. Some see him as an unscrupulous operator who would stop at nothing to amass and retain power.”
Upon leaving office Kissinger went on to found international consulting firm Kissinger Associates Inc., and sit on the board of several companies. Kissinger has consistently offered foreign policy advice to presidents since leaving office.
Most recently, Kissinger penned an op-ed in the Washington Post on the crisis in Crimea. As always, he approached the issue from a realist perspective.
“In my life, I have seen four wars begun with great enthusiasm and public support, all of which we did not know how to end and from three of which we withdrew unilaterally,” he wrote. “The test of policy is how it ends, not how it begins.”
John Dean, 75, was White House counsel for Richard Nixon during the Watergate proceedings. He was intricately involved in the cover-up and, as a result, turned whistle-blower in exchange for a lessened prison sentence.
After pleading guilty to a felony charge and spending four months in federal prison, Dean has spent the past few decades turning his misfortune into opportunity. Publishing numerous books on the Watergate scandal and the state of U.S. conservatism, Dean has never failed to stay relevant, or make a buck.
In a conversation with Time Magazine about his new book, “The Nixon Defense,” Dean compared Nixon, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. “Nixon only prosecuted one leaker … What Obama has done more aggressively than Bush and more aggressively than Nixon is prosecute journalists and leakers…I’m sure Nixon is smiling.”
Pat Buchanan, 75, worked on Richard Nixon’s presidential campaign and served as an adviser to the president. As with Kissinger, Buchanan was not implicated in the Watergate Scandal. And after Watergate, Buchanan remained active in Republican politics, serving in both the Ford and Reagan administrations.
Buchanan ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination in the 1992, 1996, and 2000 presidential races, ultimately transitioning full-time into cable news and political commentating.
Recently, Buchanan wrote an op-ed in defense of Nixon’s presidency titled “Nixon’s Achievements Are Forgotten.”
“And this week marks the 40th anniversary of the resignation of President Richard Nixon. Missing from the retelling will be the astonishing achievements of that most maligned of statesmen in the 20th century,” he wrote. Buchanan outlined achievements of the Nixon administration including SALT I, the EPA, OSHA, the Cancer Institute, and several instrumental appointments to the Supreme Court.
Much fun last night on “The Colbert Rpt,” I was joined by former Nixon aide Pat Buchanan. pic.twitter.com/bKOewsyUZn
— John Dean (@JohnWDean) August 5, 2014
Egil Krogh, 75, was not connected to the Watergate break-in, but was involved in and convicted for his role in the burglary of Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist. Daniel Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon papers, and the burglary was an attempt to tarnish his reputation after the leak.
Krogh pleaded guilty to the crime, served jail time and has since turned his life around dramatically. He published the book “Integrity: Good People, Bad Choices, and Life Lessons from the White House.” He is also a senior fellow on leadership, ethics and integrity at the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress.
Krogh said ”my absolute loyalty to President Nixon personally and to his view of the national security threat had skewed my perspective. This kind of absolute loyalty lacked integrity.”
Gordon Liddy, 83, was head of the White House Plumbers unit, the oh-so cleverly named group tasked with plugging leaks in the executive branch. Most notably, Liddy orchestrated the break-in at the Watergate hotel. After refusing to testify before the Senate and being convicted of burglary and conspiracy, he spent four years in federal prison, the most jail time of anyone involved in the Watergate Scandal.
Since Watergate, Liddy has remade his image entirely. Liddy hosted a radio show on Sirius XM for 20 years, and has even been featured in commercials pitching gold investments to Fox News viewers.
Of the five Watergate burglars, only three are still alive – Virgilio Gonzalez, James McCord and Eugenio Martinez. They were charged, convicted and imprisoned on counts of burglary, conspiracy and wiretapping. Gonzalez kept a low profile after completing his prison time. He moved to Miami and worked as a mechanic. James McCord, on the other hand, followed in the footsteps of Dean and Krogh. He wrote a book titled “A Piece of Tape: The Watergate Story – Fact and Fiction,” and now lives in Rockville, Maryland. Martinez ended up living in Miami working in the real estate industry.