Leonard Garment

Leonard Garment

Leonard Garment was born on 11th May, 1924. His father came from Lithuania, and owned a dress factory; his mother came from Poland. Garment worked as a jazz saxophonist with Billie Holiday and Woody Herman before attending Brooklyn Law School where he edited the Brooklyn Law Review.

Garment began his law career in 1949 by joining Mudge, Stern, Baldwin & Todd. He was chief of the firm's trial department and helped tutor Richard Nixon in appellate argument. The company later became Nixon, Mudge, Guthrie, Rose & Alexander.

In 1968 Garment helped to organize Nixon's 1968 presidential campaign. Nixon picked Spiro T. Agnew as his running mate. Nixon won and in his inaugural address on 20th January, 1969, he promised to bring the nation together again. Garment was appointed as special consultant to the president on domestic policy. After John Dean was forced to resign over the Watergate Scandal, Garment became Counsel to the President.

On 18th May, 1973, Attorney General Elliot Richardson appointed Archibald Cox as special prosecutor, with unprecedented authority and independence to investigate the alleged Watergate cover-up and illegal activity in the 1972 presidential campaign. The following month Dean testified that at a meeting with Nixon on 15th April, the president had remarked that he had probably been foolish to have discussed his attempts to get clemency for E. Howard Hunt with Charles Colson. Dean concluded from this that Nixon's office might be bugged.

On Friday, 13th July, Alexander P. Butterfield appeared before the committee and was asked about if he knew whether Nixon was recording meetings he was having in the White House. Butterfield reluctantly admitted details of the tape system which monitored Nixon's conversations. Butterfield also said that he knew "it was probably the one thing that the President would not want revealed". This information did indeed interest Archibald Cox and he demanded that Richard Nixon hand over the White House tapes. Nixon refused and so Cox appealed to the Supreme Court.

On 20th October, 1973, Nixon ordered his Attorney-General, Elliot Richardson, to fire Archibald Cox. Richardson refused and resigned in protest. Nixon then ordered the deputy Attorney-General, William Ruckelshaus, to fire Cox. Ruckelshaus also refused and he was sacked. Eventually, Robert Bork, the Solicitor-General, fired Cox.

An estimated 450,000 telegrams went sent to Richard Nixon protesting against his decision to remove Cox. The heads of 17 law colleges now called for Nixon's impeachment. Nixon was unable to resist the pressure and on 23rd October he agreed to comply with the subpoena and began releasing some of the tapes. The following month a gap of over 18 minutes was discovered on the tape of the conversation between Nixon and H. R. Haldemanon June 20, 1972. Nixon's secretary, Rose Mary Woods, denied deliberately erasing the tape. It was now clear that Nixon had been involved in the cover-up and members of the Senate began to call for his impeachment.

Peter Rodino, who was chairman of the Judiciary Committee, presided over the impeachment proceedings against Nixon. The hearings opened in May 1974. The committee had to vote on five articles of impeachment and it was thought that members would split on party lines. However, on the three main charges - obstructing justice, abuse of power and withholding evidence, the majority of Republicans voted with the Democrats.

According to Godfrey Hodgson: "Garment did not turn on Nixon. He remained loyal for as long as he could in the unravelling of the Watergate drama. It was he who advised Nixon that it would constitute obstruction of justice to destroy incriminating White House tape recordings, as Nixon had threatened to do. In the end, after Nixon suggested faking a tape to cover the missing 18 minutes that had been erased from a crucial tape, Garment joined the group of advisers who travelled to Key Biscayne, Florida, to tell Nixon that, in effect, the game was up."

When three senior Republican congressmen, Barry Goldwater, Hugh Scott, John Rhodes visited Richard Nixon to tell him that they were going to vote for his impeachment. Nixon, convinced that he will lose the vote, decided to resign as president of the United States.

Garment remained in the White House as President Gerald Ford appointed him as his assistant. He was later appointed as the U.S. representative to the United Nations Human Rights Commission (1974-77).

In 2002 Leonard Garment published a book, In Search of Deep Throat where he argued that Deep Throat was fellow presidential lawyer John Sears. This was publicly denied by Carl Bernstein, who, along with Bob Woodward, used Deep Throat as a source.

Leonard Garment died on 13th July 2013.

Primary Sources

(1) Leonard Garment, In Search of Deep Throat (2000)

The most obvious fact about Mullen & Co.'s relationship to the CIA was that if it were revealed, the CIA would have to discontinue it, along with the financial benefits it provided to the company. That is in fact what happened not long after Watergate, when the company's cover was finally blown.

This set of mixed motives made Bennett, to my mind, even more plausible as a Deep Throat candidate. When some writer claims that Deep Throat acted because he hated Richard Nixon's Vietnam policy, the alleged motivation is murky and uncertain. But when I thought of Deep Throat acting to keep the bread and butter coming, I had found a motivation I understood.

In addition, when I thought of Bennett as Deep Throat I remembered the one positive clue that Woodward had given me. The reason Deep Throat does not come forward even after all these years, Woodward said, is that his post-Watergate public persona is so different from the persona of Deep Throat.

There could not have been a Deep Throat candidate whom this description fit better than Robert F. Bennett. After Watergate, Bennett left Washington and made his fortune. In due course, he re-entered politics - this time electoral politics in his home state of Utah. Bennett, once an obscure public relations entrepreneur, succeeded his father as senator from Utah. The younger Senator Bennett is now a figure of considerable stature within the Senate...

Bennett even had the physique attributed to Deep Throat in All the President's Men. He is extremely tall. That would explain how he could, without thinking, place a message for Woodward on a garage ledge that Woodward could not reach. Finally, Bennett was the only Deep Throat candidate on record as admitting that he had provided Woodward with unacknowledged, off-the-record information. He had access, opportunity, and motivation...

I wondered why the Bennett testimony, once declassified, had not been enough to settle the question of Deep Throat's identity once and for all. If Bennett was not literally Deep Throat, in my view at the time, he was the closest that any candidate would ever come. Bennett knew immediately about the Watergate break-in; he knew as well about the White House connections to the event, both before and after the fact. Bennett also had a powerful motive for playing the "source" card with the press: He was anxious to safeguard the existence and economic well-being of his company by protecting the secrecy of its relationship with the CIA. He had confirmed under oath that he had preserved this secret by disclosing to Woodward "everything" he knew about Watergate-which was, at the time, just about all there was to know.

(2) Robert Finn, review of In Search of Deep Throat (2000)

To anyone over age 40, the term "Watergate" is by now as much a part of American history as "Valley Forge" or "Teapot Dome." It is the only event in our history that actually forced a sitting President to resign midterm.

A central figure in that wide-ranging web of mid-1970s scandal was an anonymous informant code-named "Deep Throat," who provided inside information, confirmation, and guidance to Robert Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the two dogged Washington Post reporters, whose hard digging kept the story of the now-famous burglary and political scandal alive until it finally blew up into a national disgrace. Deep Throat's identity has never been revealed by the two reporters, true to the journalist's code of absolute protection of sources. Woodward and Bernstein have pledged to break their silence only when Deep Throat dies --- and so far there has been only silence from them.

Leonard Garment became acting special counsel to President Richard Nixon after the Watergate story broke and during the two years or so that it dominated the news. He still held that title when Nixon resigned in August of 1974. In this book Garment retraces the tangled history of Watergate and names the man he thinks was Deep Throat. His candidate is John P. Sears, a former deputy special counsel to Nixon, who left the White House staff in 1969 but was still deeply involved and politically well-connected during (and after) the Watergate trauma.

Curiously, instead of building suspense toward a final revelation of his candidate's name, Garment reveals it on page two of his 270-page book and then backtracks to fill in the details. He seems uninterested in making a political "whodunit" out of the story. He gives the reader first a general scene-setting chapter, then a short but trenchant summary of the whole Watergate mess. Then he runs methodically through a list of no fewer than 24 other names that have been suggested as possible Deep Throats over the years. This section is fascinating, including as it does such bizarre suggestions as Henry Kissinger, Alexander Haig, Ron Zeigler (Nixon's press secretary!), Melvin Laird, and Garment himself (he denies he's the right man).

By this time we are well past the book's halfway mark. Then follows a chapter detailing Garment's own efforts to nail down Deep Throat's identity. He finally brings Sears back onstage for the final 55 pages or so of his text, explaining why he thinks Sears fits all the available clues to Deep Throat's identity --- and dutifully recording that when he asked Sears (who once worked for him) about it, Sears vehemently denied everything.

The book is smoothly and engagingly written. Oddly enough, its main value may lie in areas only remotely related to its actual subject. It gives a vivid picture of the clashing personalities within the Nixon White House staff and the often unpredictable ways in which a Presidential staff works when under extreme stress. It also offers a fascinating attempt to explain "the larger puzzle of Richard Nixon," this man whose psyche and mind remain a mystery to many, admirers and detractors alike, seven years after his death.

Garment acknowledges all the well-known Nixon faults --- the ruthless vindictiveness toward enemies, the loathing of the press, the thuggish political instincts; but he also sees good qualities that he regrets were overtaken and overwhelmed by the man's dark side. He was, says Garment, "thoughtful, knowledgeable and sophisticated" and had a "poetic nature." Garment presents himself as a liberal surrounded by ruthless conservative activists in the Nixon inner circle. At least he tries to present a balanced view of Nixon, neither liberal caricature nor conservative hagiography.

As I read this unfailingly interesting and civilized book, a thought drifted into my head that could perhaps only occur to someone who had lived through Watergate: Just suppose for a minute that Leonard Garment himself was indeed Deep Throat, as some have suggested. What more perfect diversionary tactic could there be for him than to write a book fingering someone else? It's just a vague thought, perhaps inspired by the deep and tangled web of conspiracy and deceit that was Watergate. But who knows?

Garment says that only four people know the identity of Deep Throat: Woodward, Bernstein, Ben Bradlee (their editor at the time), and Deep Throat himself.

(3) Godfrey Hodgson, The Guardian (23rd July, 2013)

Garment did not turn on Nixon. He remained loyal for as long as he could in the unravelling of the Watergate drama. It was he who advised Nixon that it would constitute obstruction of justice to destroy incriminating White House tape recordings, as Nixon had threatened to do.

In the end, after Nixon suggested faking a tape to cover the missing 18 minutes that had been erased from a crucial tape, Garment joined the group of advisers who travelled to Key Biscayne, Florida, to tell Nixon that, in effect, the game was up.

After the fall, when the Watergate scandal was over and Nixon had retired to California, Garment maintained he was unaware of the extent of Nixon's antisemitism. With his habitual dexterity, he summed up the complexity of his feeling towards his political chief. They were, he said, "a tangle of familial echoes, affections and curiosities never satisfied"....

He became an effective Washington attorney with international clients such as Fiat and Toshiba, and wrote two books. The first, Crazy Rhythm (1997), was a sprightly autobiography. The second, In Search of Deep Throat (2000), argued that the mysterious informant who steered Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein towards the exposure of the Watergate scandal was the Republican lawyer John Sears. It is possible that Garment wrote the book in part to deflect the suspicion that he himself was Deep Throat. In any case, in 2005 Mark Felt, who had retired as deputy director of the FBI, admitted having been the source.