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This Day in History: Watergate Leaker 'Deep Throat' Reveals Self in 2005

  • VOA News

Richard Nixon says goodbye to members of his staff outside the White House as he boards a helicopter for Andrews Air Force Base after resigning the presidency on August 9, 1974.

Twelve years ago today, May 31 — and 31 years after the resignation of President Richard Nixon — the principal leaker in the Watergate scandal, known as “Deep Throat,” revealed his identity in an article published in Vanity Fair magazine.

Mark Felt's coming forward stunned both Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, whose reporting in The Washington Post newspaper helped bring down Nixon’s presidency. Both went to great lengths to conceal Felt’s identity, and they promised to keep it a secret until his death.

Washington Post reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward at work in 1973.
Washington Post reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward at work in 1973.

Although his name was circulated in the years after Nixon resigned, Felt consistently denied being Deep Throat.

“I never leaked information to Woodward and Bernstein or to anyone else," he wrote in his 1979 memoir.

Just six years before his 2005 admission, Felt, then aged 91, was quoted as saying, “It would be contrary to my responsibility as a loyal employee of the FBI to leak information.”

Former Associate FBI Director W. Mark Felt, and his wife Audrey, appear on NBC's "TODAY" television show in Washington, D.C. on April 11, 1978.
Former Associate FBI Director W. Mark Felt, and his wife Audrey, appear on NBC's "TODAY" television show in Washington, D.C. on April 11, 1978.

During the middle of the night in an Arlington, Virginia, parking garage, Felt corroborated stories linking Nixon’s reelection committee to the Watergate break-ins and illegal investigations of the Democratic Party.

He also alerted Woodward to the far-reaching nature of the scandal, indicating that it could be traced back to government higher-ups, including Nixon himself.

Sen. George McGovern (D-SD) reads the newspaper headline of President Nixon's resignation, Aug. 7, 1974.
Sen. George McGovern (D-SD) reads the newspaper headline of President Nixon's resignation, Aug. 7, 1974.

Nixon resigned — the first president to ever do so — while impeachment proceedings were underway. Top aides H.R. Haldeman, John Erlichman and White House Counsel John Dean all spent time in prison.

Other key players who were jailed: John Mitchell, Attorney General, Howard Hunt and G. Gordon Liddy, both former White House staffers, along with Charles Colson, special counsel to the president.

President Nixon's White House Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman, left, and presidential adviser John D. Ehrlichman, right, deplane Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base in Md. in this April 1973 file photo.
President Nixon's White House Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman, left, and presidential adviser John D. Ehrlichman, right, deplane Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base in Md. in this April 1973 file photo.

Additionally, five burglars, who were caught breaking in to the Democratic national headquarters at the Watergate Hotel, were jailed.

In 1973, The Washington Post won a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage. Hollywood made of a movie in 1976 called “All the President’s Men,” starring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman.

Mark Felt died ​on December 18, 2008, at the age of 95.

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