Study Guide

G. Gordon Liddy in United States v. Nixon

By Supreme Court of the United States

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G. Gordon Liddy

Q: Who was the only White House Plumber to have a superhero modeled after him?

A: G. Gordon Liddy. The reckless, tough-guy, off-the-wall Nixon operative was the partial inspiration for Alan Moore's character Eddie "The Comedian" Blake.

Growing up in Brooklyn, New York during the 1940s, G. Gordon Liddy had to be street smart. These skills probably helped him during his career in the FBI, which began after he graduated from Fordham University of Law in 1957. Liddy quickly became the youngest bureau supervisor in FBI history. He eventually became a part of FBI Director's J. Edgar Hoover's personal staff and eventual ghost writer (source).

Liddy had a colorful few years in the FBI, including the time he ran a background check on his wife-to-be, something he told a Playboy interviewer was just a "routine precautionary measure" (source).

Don't try that at home.

Liddy resigned from the FBI in 1962 and practiced law in New York until he was hired as district attorney in Dutchess County in 1966. Then, after an unsuccessful run for U.S. House of Representatives, he went to work for the Committee to Re-Elect the President in the Nixon Administration. He joined the White House Plumbers, where along with E. Howard Hunt, he cooked up the idea for the break-in at the office of Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist.

Next, Liddy pitched an elaborate set of schemes for a series of secret operations targeting Nixon's enemies, like getting call girls to seduce Democratic politicians and then photographing them (it didn't fly). He asked for a million bucks to carry out his schemes, but was only given $250,000 (source). That was enough for the bugging operation at the Watergate offices of the Democratic National Committee, the disastrous plan which eventually led to Nixon's resignation.

For his part of the Watergate burglaries, Liddy was convicted of conspiracy, burglary, and illegal wiretapping. He refused to testify against any of his associates and sat silent through much of the proceedings. In a memo from Bob Woodward of The Washington Post to his editor Ben Bradlee, Woodward writes, "Liddy told [White House counsel John] Dean that they could shoot him and/or that he would shoot himself, but that he would never talk and always be a good soldier" (source). His overriding goal was to protect the Nixon administration.

Liddy served 52 months in federal prison for his role in Watergate. After his release, he stayed in the spotlight, capitalizing on his Nixon-years notoriety. He published his autobiography Will, which was eventually turned into a TV movie. He guest-starred on shows your parents probably watched, like Miami Vice and MacGyver, and at age 75 was a contestant on Fear Factor.

He almost won, too—the guy was never afraid of anything.

After later starting a failed private security firm, he got a nationally syndicated radio talk show, which ran from 1992 to 2012. On his radio show, Liddy kept up the reckless, extreme rhetoric of his Nixon years and took it up a few notches. In 1994, he famously told his listeners, "If the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms insists upon a firefight, give them a firefight. Just remember, they're wearing flak jackets and you're better off shooting for the head" (source). Liddy said that his remarks were taken out of context.

Uh huh.

Liddy was the last surviving member of the White House Plumbers. He was unrepentant for his Watergate-era activities. In 2014, he told a talk-radio host that, "I saw Democrats as being dangerous to the country…I see the Democrats now as being even more dangerous to the country. I wanted to prevent them from being able to damage the country further. So I chose to make use of the special knowledge that I had as a result of the FBI and so forth. That was it" (source).

He never shaved his moustache.

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