Watergate prosecutor that brought down Richard M. Nixon dies

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The Watergate prosecutor that brought down the U.S. President Richard M. Nixon has died at the age of 86.

The family of Earl J. Silbert confirmed on Wednesday, September 14 that he had died on the 6th in hospital after suffering an aortic dissection.

Silbert was the Principal Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Colombia when five men wearing business suits had been arrested. They were attempting to bug the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee.

Among those arrested James W. McCord Jr., the Security Chief for President Richard M. Nixon’s re-election campaign and a former CIA employee.

Years later he said that he did not immediately grasp the case’s magnitude when he set out to obtain indictments. These included the five arrested as well as their two key co-conspirators, former White House aides G. Gordon Liddy and E. Howard Hunt.

Following his stint prosecuting those involved in the Watergate case he spent five years as a U.S. attorney for the District of Colombia before going into private practice.

In later years Silbert was criticised for not going after Nixon himself, but rather concentrating on prosecuting those involved in the break-in.

Many did come to his defence saying that he worked under difficult conditions including interference by then FBI Director L. Patrick Gray III. Gray was guilty of feeding details about the enquiry to the Nixon White House Counsel John W. Dean III. He later pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice.

Silbert is survived by his wife of 52 years, the former Patricia Allott of Chevy Chase, two daughters, a sister and three grandchildren.

The Watergate prosecutor that brought down Richard M. Nixon was working on his memoirs when he died, with his wife reminiscing that at many times he threatened to give up given the impossible circumstances under which he worked.


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Written by

Peter McLaren-Kennedy

Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]

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