WATERGATE REVISTED: IN THE MIDST OF IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY

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My Watergate Scandal Tell-All: How I Unwittingly Caused This Historic Event, by Bruce Givner (ExecuProv Press, Santa Ana, California, 2019, 258 pages.)

Book Review by Dennis Moore

“This is a story I’ll tell to my students many times. Internships can make history!”

  • Larry J. Sabato, Director, UVA Center for Politics

November 8, 2019 (San Diego) - The Watergate story never dies. It has become more and more intriguing (and popular) as time goes by. It has evoked comment many a time when a Washington D.C. official becomes entangled in a self-styled web of deception. Watergate is no longer the name of a hotel and office complex. It is more than a proper noun that branded a piece of property and cemented its “title” in numerous pages of history books. It is now the go-to reference to identify any scandal, though its origin was first reserved for the most sordid political scandal our nation has ever witnessed – at least up until the writing of this book. In that respect, it ranks right up there in significance with Teapot Dome, Wounded Knee and Gettysburg.

Bruce Givner, a tax attorney in Los Angeles, has written this provocative and insightful book; My Watergate Scandal Tell-All, at a time when the country is faced with a similar political scandal of epic proportions. The irony is that this riveting book is not lost on a scandal that has international implications, in which Russia has been identified as the culprit by every U.S. Intelligence agency as plotting to interfere in our 2016 presidential election, with President Trump being the primary beneficiary.

Due credit for this book is given to Cherie Kerr, whom the author describes as his researcher and writing coach, and specifically states; “who pushed me through every chapter – coaxing me to dig deep into my memory to piece my story together, then helped me to organize it.” Cherie is pictured here.

Givner, an ordinary 21-year old student intern at the Democratic National Committee on June 16, 1972, paints a picture and story of capital intrigue that will go down in the annals of history as the benchmark of political corruption and malfeasance in government. He says in this book that he unwittingly caused this historic event. He stayed very late to make some free long-distance calls to friends and family – and in doing so held up the Watergate burglars intent on replacing defective eavesdropping equipment at the DNC.

When Givner finally left, the night watchman, Frank Wills, walked with him across the street to the Howard Johnson’s. The burglars saw their chance. But they made a tiny mistake. They taped a door open, which Wills discovered when he came back from seeing Givner off. The rest is history. Had Givner not stayed late to make those calls, Wills very probably would have not discovered the taped door and called the police. The burglars wouldn’t have been caught, and there would have been no Watergate scandal. And Richard Nixon might well have finished his second term as President.

It is interesting to note that it was two policemen, John Barrett and Paul Leeper, who caught and arrested the burglars red-handed without firing a shot. The officers pictured here, looking like a couple of hippies, are Barrett (right) and Leeper (left) taken from Barrett's personal collection in front of the Watergate just hours after the arrests.

In a phone interview with the author, he lamented to me the ultimate fate of the late Frank Wills, indicating that he thought Wills deserved better in life for his role in the Watergate scandal.

Pertinent details in this riveting book and story that reads like a Robert Ludlum espionage novel, are as follows: “About that same time on Friday, four clumsy break-in crew members booked rooms at the Watergate – rooms 214 and 314. They arrived on the orders of G. Gordon Liddy, a former ex-FBI agent and campaign member on the Committee to Re-elect the President (CRP), and E. Howard Hunt, who served in that capacity as well.

After the break-in – and Nixon’s failure to modulate the stress it caused him – stories swirled of him drinking excessively; ranting at paintings on the walls; suffering bouts of total denial and extreme paranoia. In between came the hushed meetings with those he would eventually dump while trying to distance himself from the conspiracy and save his own ass, all according to the brilliant assessment and insight of Givner in his book My Watergate Scandal Tell-All.

Givner further states: “Over time, many reporters agreed with Nixon – that he didn’t know about the June 16 plot, the parties involved or the plan to ostensibly wiretap O’Brien’s office. In fact, it was finally proven that whether Nixon knew about it or not, he had not ordered the break-in. The orders came from John Mitchell, the former U.S. Attorney General to Nixon before he took on leadership of the Committee to Re-elect the President (CRP, though after the turmoil people referred to it as CREEP). Mitchell would go on to deny that, trying to pin it on Jeb Stuart Magruder, a Nixon Committee for the Re-Election of the President campaign manager, who later suggested it was White House counsel John Dean who ordered the coup.”   

In an article by Jim Shaw that ran in the Columbia Law School News, where Givner would receive his J.D. in 1976, dated February 24, 1975, Shaw gave an accurate account of the Watergate scandal, by stating: “But For Him, Nixon Might Still Be President.” It is also curious to me as to why the afore-mentioned Frank Wills would indicate to New York Times writer Sol Stern in 1974 that he “suspected Givner was likely part of the break-in team – and that he was the one burglar never caught.” When Givner read this, he thought: Frank, how could you? We were burger buddies! That comment by Frank Wills sparked further curiosity about Givner’s new nick-name: “Mystery Man”, with some reports going so far as to suggest Givner was a double agent – a Republican spy. Reading this well documented book would suggest otherwise. Pictured here is the actual desk and working area of the then 21-year old Givner.

The current impeachment inquiry of President Trump for “high crimes and misdemeanors” is being measured against the backdrop of Watergate, and what Givner reveals in this well written book.   

The author provides a number of anecdotes throughout this book that provides insight into his upbringing and overall character, and provides background for his story, such as: “I was a reasonably normal, ordinary kid who grew up in a small Midwestern town living a rather non-descript, uneventful life. In fact, during my formative years in school, I paid little attention to politics – I was 10 years old when John F. Kennedy beat Richard Nixon – and had a ‘whatever’ attitude about it. Most of our neighbors were for Nixon (who carried the state of Ohio).”

Another significant and poignant anecdote by Givner which seemed to shape his life and the writing of this book, is stated in this passage; “My grandfather Joe Givner emigrated to Lorain from Lomza, Poland in 1908, the same year the Ohio town celebrated the completion of the Nickel Plate Drawbridge across the Black River. It was the longest single-span structure in the world at the time. But it was not exactly welcoming for this Jewish immigrant, who found a sign on the beach that read: ‘No Jews Or Dogs Allowed.’ He chose to ignore it.”

This book resonates with me for so many reasons, not the least of all the parallels of Watergate with our own and current Impeachment Inquiry of President Trump, but Givner’s relationship with his military veteran father who he saw his father’s health deteriorate over the years due to Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

I saw my own father’s health deteriorate over the years, possibly due to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and just as Givner’s family did, considered putting him in a V.A. nursing home. The author indicates that his father spent the last 12 years of his life in this V.A. nursing home on Sepulveda in California, and at one time questioning the author; “How could anyone move him out of his own home?” Fortunately for my own family, we did not have to subject our father to such an awful and painful decision, as my brother Ronnie stayed with and cared for him to his dying days. Givner admits in My Watergate Scandal Tell-All that it was an awful decision for him to have to make.

Also, and as a prelude to his Watergate episode, Givner shares another anecdote worth noting; While in the seventh grade he indicates he was saved from a serious mugging and beat down from three young boys by his buddy, Lemmie Davis, one of the only African Americans in school. Givner further stated: “Lemmie’s act of kindness demonstrated the overall alliance between Jewish and black populations in Lorain in those days.”

There are many parallels between what Givner has written and the ongoing and raging debate over the current impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump. Notably, it involves an attack on the Democratic National Committee. In my earlier review of Donna Brazile’s book; Hacks, she indicates that in June 2016 the Washington Post first reported that Russian hackers had penetrated the Democratic National Committee.

Ironically, and again, in Givner’s My Watergate Scandal Tell-All, he references Bob Woodward’s writing in the Washington Post of the burglarizing of the Democratic National Committee, and later the classic book by Woodward and Bernstein; All the President’s Men. Givner is pictured here with the policeman that caught and arrested the Watergate burglars.

Another notable parallel and anecdote in this entertaining and insightful book, is how Givner describes the relationship between then President Nixon and Nixon’s Attorney General, John Mitchell. Givner states: “The Mitchell’s involvement with Watergate came to light through bizarre, headline-grabbing revelations from their living quarters there. Once sentenced, Mitchell declared the only fate worse than being jailed would have been a court order to continue to live with his wife, Martha, whom he apparently came to despise.” It makes one wonder if Trump’s current Attorney General William Barr will have a similar fate as Mitchell for his alleged cover up of crimes.

Perhaps it is an eerie coincidence that Givner references Roger Stone in his book My Watergate Scandal Tell-All by stating; “Roger Stone and investigative reporter Michael Colapietro also mentioned me in their book, Nixon’s Secrets: The Rise, Fall, and Untold Truth About the President, Watergate, And the Pardon.  This highly speculative account suggests that the Watergate Special Prosecutor met secretly and repeatedly with Watergate trial judge John Sirica, in an effort to railroad Nixon and rig any appeal by him to a higher court.”

Givner follows this up by stating: “Stone’s credibility in all this is suspect at best and outright bankrupt at worst. He was not unlike Nixon’s cabal in that he described himself – in bragging tones, no less – as a Republican ‘dirty trickster.’”

To add further irony to this story, Givner states regarding Roger Stone: “In late January 2019, U.S. Special Prosecutor Robert S. Mueller indicted Stone on charges of lying to Congress, obstruction, and witness tampering connected to his communications with Wikileaks during the 2016 presidential election. In one now-famous photo, he is being led to court by a phalanx of armed Homeland Security guards while an angry protester thrusts a sign above Stone’s head that reads ‘DIRTY TRAITOR.’”

This book touches on so many things not related to Watergate, but serves as a reminder of our collective past, and where we need to go to assure the humanity and greatness of our country. This is truly a remarkable book, one that we can all learn from, especially considering our current political climate. Some insight into Nixon can be heard here.

Dennis Moore has been the Associate Editor for the East County Magazine in San Diego and the book review editor for SDWriteway, an online newsletter for writers in San Diego that has partnered with the East County Magazine, along with having been a freelance contributor to EURweb based out of Los Angeles. Mr. Moore can be contacted at contractsagency@gmail.com or you can follow him on Twitter at: @DennisMoore8.

Comments

My Watergate Scandal Tell-All:

This is a well-detailed, well timed, intense book review. One can draw so many parallels from Nixon and Watergate to what's currently happening with the Trump's impeachment inquiry, and Trump's administration as a whole. Congrats and kudos to Bruce Givner for putting his book out at this opportune time. It's seems to be a book that once you start reading, will be difficult for you to put down. It's informative, descriptive, and it gives us a history lesson, and a well documented account of what transpired during that ill fated time. Good review Dennis, and thanks for adding the interview piece at the end, its quite interesting indeed. Submitted by Jacqueline Carr - Author of "Hands of Time", "Quiet Thoughts", and "A Selected Few Just For You".

Watergate Scandal Tell-All

I was so pleased to be tasked with helping Bruce Givner tell his wonderful story!! It certainly adds one more piece to the Watergate puzzle. What an interesting assignment. So appreciate seeing this terrific review. Thanks Dennis Moore for giving Givner's book its due credit. He worked so hard on it!! I hope this book will ultimately wind up on every library shelf in the country!!

Roger Stone Convicted on all 7 Counts

Roger Stone, who is referenced in Bruce Givner's brilliant book "My Watergate Scandal Tell-All", today was convicted on all 7 counts in federal court, which emanated from the Robert Mueller inquiry. In Givner's subject book, the aurhor states in regard to Watergate: "Stone's credibility in all this is suspect at best and outright bankrupt at worst. He was not unlike Nixon's cabal in that he described himself - in bragging tones, no less - as a 'dirty trickster'".

Stone behaved like a Mafia thug, sending a text to a witness

that read, "You are a rat. A stoolie. Prepare to die."  He also encouraged the witness to like to Congress as a character in the Godfather II movie did to protect a Mafia boss.  There is a lot of similarity between the Mafia and how this Trump administration is acting -- intimidating witnesses, stonewalling, breaking laws left and right.  Stone is now the sixth Trump confidante who has been found guilty or pled guilty to serious crimes, and they all relate to his activities involving Russia. 

Read more of the shocking details in our writeup here:  read https://www.eastcountymagazine.org/roger-stone-found-guilty-death-threat...

Power and the separation of it in the structure of our govt.

Our United States government is structured to have separation of powers so that no one part of it becomes strong enough to overcome the intent of the Founding Fathers. Sadly, power tends to corrupt, and evolve into absolute power as the saying goes. Because human nature is subject to corruption it is necessary to plan to defend oneself from it because it is an inevitable result of humans having power. There are many books that give instruction in how to acquire and consolidate power. https://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/3200649 “Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak.” ― Sun Tzu, The Art of War. “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” ― Sun Tzu, The Art of War. “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you … “Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.” ― … See all full list on goodreads.com Machiavellian and Other Bad Behavior While inspiring an eponym may seem like a fine way to achieve linguistic immortality, it must be said that many words taken from people’s names are not terribly complimentary. Machiavellian comes from the Italian political philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527), the author of the most famous treatise on bare-knuckled politics ever published, The Prince. Other less-than-laudatory English eponyms include the verb burke, after William Burke, a 19th century Irish criminal famous for smothering people and selling their bodies to be dissected; dunce, from John Duns Scotus, whose writings were widely ridiculed in the 16th century; and boycott, from Charles C. Boycott, a land manager in 19th century Ireland who was himself boycotted for charging high rents. (Dictionary - Webster) The Founding Fathers had obviously read these works and lived under tyranny themselves, wanting to make America free of it, and that was the intent of their legacy. The term "trias politica" or "separation of powers" was coined in the 18th century by Charles-Louis de Secondat, baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu. His publication, "Spirit of the Laws," is considered one of the great works in the history of political theory and jurisprudence and under his model, the political authority of the state is divided into legislative, executive and judicial powers. Separation of powers, therefore, refers to the division of government responsibilities into distinct branches to limit any one branch from exercising the core functions of another. http://www.ncsl.org/research/about-state-legislatures/separation-of-powers.aspx The three branches of the U.S. government are the legislative, executive and judicial branches. According to the doctrine of separation of powers, the U.S. Constitution distributed the power of the federal government among these three branches, and built a system of checks and balances to ensure that no one branch could become too powerful. Separation of Powers In the Federalist Papers, James Madison wrote of the necessity of the separation of powers to the new nation’s democratic government: “The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elected, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.” https://www.history.com/topics/us-government/three-branches-of-government As long as leaders are held accountable for their actions it becomes more difficult for a "Brave New World" or "Fahrenheit 451" to become reality. Fahrenheit 451 is a dystopian novel by American writer Ray Bradbury, first published in 1953. Often regarded as one of his best works,[4] the novel presents a future American society where books are outlawed and "firemen" burn any that are found.[5] The book's tagline explains the title: "Fahrenheit 451 – the temperature at which book paper catches fire, and burns..." The lead character, Guy Montag, is a fireman who becomes disillusioned with his role of censoring literature and destroying knowledge, eventually quitting his job and committing himself to the preservation of literary and cultural writings. The novel has been the subject of interpretations focusing on the historical role of book burning in suppressing dissenting ideas for change. In a 1956 radio interview,[6] Bradbury said that he wrote Fahrenheit 451 because of his concerns at the time (during the McCarthy era) about the threat of book burning in the United States. In later years, he described the book as a commentary on how mass media reduces interest in reading literature.[7] In 1954, Fahrenheit 451 won the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature and the Commonwealth Club of California Gold Medal.[8][9][10] It later won the Prometheus "Hall of Fame" Award in 1984[11] and a "Retro" Hugo Award, one of only seven Best Novel Retro Hugos ever given, in 2004.[12] Bradbury was honored with a Spoken Word Grammy nomination for his 1976 audiobook version.[13] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fahrenheit_451 America's political battles are usually filled with conflict and often violence. We are notorious for our contentious fighting. With regards to the current fighting over the possible impeachment of President Trump, expect the same heated, fiery arguments and furious comments. The fact that we CAN fight is positive. Fighting and bringing topics into the open preserves our heritage and keeps us free. MJ Payne, author, The Remembered Self: A Journey into the Heart of the Beast.

Watergate History Meets Trump Destiny

I lived through the Watergate fiasco as a teenager and never forgot the unfolding drama and political missteps. History is repeating itself before my eyes in the guise of another arrogant president who felt the office placed him above the law. It's a story running down the same tracks of isolated stupidity and hubris by supposedly smart and accomplished men. It's a classic example of corruption unchecked to the point of so much public outcry that the crooks can no longer protect their own. Dennis Moore as usual has sparked my interest on a topic I thought I knew, only to find out I knew mostly the fake or common knowledge news. This small wrinkle in the timeline of the burglars changing the very blanket of history begs that we examine all news stories for the small ripple and not the huge wave. Thank you, Dennis for your insight and insistence for critical thinking from the reader. Another outstanding review. I hope my book, "This Day in Comedy: The Ethnic Encyclopedia of Laughter" sparks your interest to the same degree as your previous reviews and gets the full Dennis Moore treatment.

Dennis Moore's Review

Thank you very much for the kind review. I hope to have the chance to meet you in person next time I travel to visit my brother-in-law in Carlsbad. I will contact you in advance. I am not happy to see problems with President Trump that make people think of the problems with President Nixon. I would prefer to see a smooth sailing democracy for the benefit of all of the people. Best regards.

FIRST PUBLIC IMPEACHMENT HEARING ECHOES WATERGATE

You are so very welcome Bruce, but as you say in your comment that you are not happy to see problems with President Trump that make people think of the problems with President Nixon, unforunately that is unavoidable. Just today in the impeachment hearing of President Trump another bombshell dropped, the fact that Gordon Sundland called the President on his cellphone from Ukraine, the very next day after that infamous phone call with the President of Ukraine and Trump allegedly make an incriminating statement that Sundland seemingly omitted from his earlier testimony before the Intelligence Committee. Bruce, a really great book and inside story on your part.

"My Watergate Scandal Tell-All"

Thank you Bruce, I just finished watching a movie titled "She Hate Me", in which the security guard Frank Wills that you referenced in your book, is cited in this movie, along with the burglars by name. It is a fascinating irony that just today I would be watching this movie that I had never seen or heard of, which compels me to go out and buy the DVD. It is also further reason why you might want to conider making a movie of your "My Watergate Scandal Tell-All".

"She Hate Me" movie referencing Watergate figures!

This brilliant book by Bruce Givner actually has a movie referencing Frank Wills, the security guard that discovered the Watergate burglars, which in the movie itself were called out by name. See image here.

Watergate

Watergate was the the first presidential scandal of my lifetime. I believe everyone was shocked as the events unfolded. I'm sure there are a lot of people who were behind the scenes who could tell their own story. Government is just that intricate. Bruce Givner's story has come out at the right time. (At least Nixon had the decency to resign.) I don't see a similarity in Nixon's misdeeds and those that have occurred now. Nixon used his own people--not people from a foreign power. But I really hope by reading this book, people will get indignant about abuse of power in Washington and demand that Congress do the right thing. Mr. Moore's review of this book got my hackles up early this morning. Interesting review.