Former Nixon lawyer Leonard Garment dies at 89

Leonard Garment, a lawyer who advised President Nixon during the Watergate scandal, has died at the age of 89.

Garment met Nixon when the two men practiced law together in New York at Mudge, Stern, Williams & Tucker, report the New York Times and the Associated Press. Garment became White House counsel and played a central adviser role after the break-in at the Democratic National Committee offices at Watergate. He discouraged the president from destroying White House tapes and encouraged him to resign as early as 1973.

The Times describes the two men’s association as “an odd pairing.”

“Mr. Garment was a liberal in a Republican administration,” the Times says, “a Democrat who voted for John F. Kennedy over Nixon in the 1960 presidential election. He was a Jew from Brooklyn working for a native Californian given to making anti-Semitic comments in private. He was a gregarious man with a talent for jazz who counseled a dour president. He was a champion of human rights in an administration that many blacks considered hostile to minority issues. And he was regarded as a voice of conscience in a White House that had lost its ethical bearings.”

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