April 11, 2021

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G. Gordon Liddy, planner of Watergate burglary, dies at 90 – NBC News

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G. Gordon Liddy, the political operative who supervised the Watergate burglary that brought down President Richard Nixon, died Tuesday, his family said. He was 90.

Liddy’s family said in a statement that he died Tuesday morning at his daughter’s home in Mount Vernon, Virginia, but did not give a cause of death.

Liddy was one of the organizers of the 1972 break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the office building whose name would forever be linked to one of the biggest political scandals in American history.

The five burglars were caught. Money and other links would lead from the burglars to others, including Liddy, a former FBI agent, and to the White House.

Nixon resigned in 1974 in the face of an almost-certain impeachment and conviction.

Liddy was convicted of conspiracy, burglary and wiretapping in 1973 and sentenced to 20 years in prison. Years later, he declared, “I’d do it again for my president.”

President Jimmy Carter in 1977 commuted his sentence to eight years in what he said was the interest of fairness, which made Liddy eligible for parole that year.

Liddy remained unrepentant. In 1980, he published an autobiography “Will,” which was the basis for a TV movie, and he also became a controversial talk radio figure as host of “The G. Gordon Liddy Show.”

G. Gordon Liddy at work on his radio show in Washington, on April 1992.Dennis Cook / AP file

“I am proud of the fact that I am the guy who did not talk,” Liddy once said.

Liddy and another man, E. Howard Hunt, kept in contact with the Watergate burglars via radio from a room in the adjacent Watergate hotel.

Twenty-five people went to prison as a result of the botched break-in, including Hunt. Hunt, a former CIA officer, died in 2007.

Nixon won re-election by a landslide in 1972, months after the Watergate break-in. But the scandal consumed his presidency, and in 1973, the Senate established a committee and televised hearings were held.

During those hearings, the existence of an automated taping system was revealed. The Supreme Court in 1974 ordered the tapes relinquished, which have been called a “smoking gun” of the cover-up.

Liddy refused to testify to the Senate committee and did not plead guilty in the criminal case, but was convicted.

During his time in prison, Liddy spent more than 100 days in solitary confinement.

In addition to his autobiography, Liddy also wrote other books and was an actor who appeared in several shows, including “Miami Vice” in the 1980s.

He was born in Brooklyn on Nov, 1930, served in the Army, and then graduated from Fordham University Law School before joining the FBI.

In an interview with WHYY “Fresh Air” in 1980 after the publication of the autobiography, Liddy described unusual ways of overcoming fears as a child, including rats.

He went to the waterfront to confront the rats, but they would swim away. When his sister’s cat killed a rat, he decided to eat it. “And so I cooked and consumed part of the rat. And thereafter, I had no fear of rats,” Liddy said.

Liddy’s wife, Frances Purcell Liddy, died in 2010. He is survived by a sister and five children, his family said.

Son Thomas Liddy on Tuesday night said his family felt very grateful that G. Gordon Liddy had a long and interesting life, including the chance to serve his county.

The Associated Press contributed.

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