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New York Times: today in 1973

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/big/1010.html#article Agnew Quits Vice Presidency And Admits Tax Evasion In 67; Nixon Consults On Successor
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 10, 2004
      Agnew Quits Vice Presidency And Admits Tax Evasion In
      '67; Nixon Consults On Successor
      U. S. Believes Moscow Is Resupplying Arabs by Airlift
      Judge Orders Fine, 3 Years' Probation
      Agnew Resigns the Vice Presidency and Admits He Evaded
      Taxes on 1967 Income
      U. S. Judge Imposes Fine, Orders 3-Year Probation


      Special to The New York Times


      Evidence Shows Gifts to Agnew: Cites Requests and
      Receipt of Over $100,000 -- Denial Also Entered in

      Agnew Plea Ends 65 Days of Insisting on Innocence

      Congress to Vote: Opposition Is Hinted if Choice Is
      Possible 1976 Candidate

      Soviet Could Spur Move to Aid Israel

      A 10-Mile Egyptian Gain

      Israel Claiming Heights

      Mets in World Series; Defeat Reds for Flag

      I.R.S. Sees Nothing to Prevent New Tax Cases Against

      Washington, Oct, 10--Spiro T. Agnew resigned as Vice
      President of the United States today under an
      agreement with the Department of Justice to admit
      evasion of Federal income taxes and avoid

      The stunning development, ending a Federal grand jury
      investigation of Mr. Agnew in Baltimore and probably
      terminating his political career, shocked his closest
      associates and precipitated an immediate search by
      President Nixon for a successor.

      "I hereby resign the office of Vice President of the
      United States, effective immediately," Mr. Agnew
      declared in a formal statement delivered at 2:05 P.M.
      to Secretary of State Kissinger, as provided in the
      Succession Act of 1792.

      Minutes later, Mr. Agnew stood before United States
      District Judge Walter E. Hoffman in a Baltimore
      courtroom, hands barely trembling, and read from a
      statement in which he pleaded nolo contendere, or no
      contest, to a Government charge that he had failed to
      report $29,500 of income received in 1967, when he was
      Governor of Maryland. Such a plea, while not an
      admission of guilt, subjects a defendant to a judgment
      of conviction on the charge.

      Tells Court Income Was Taxable

      "I admit that I did receive payments during the year
      1967 which were not expended for political purposes
      and that, therefore, these payments were income
      taxable to me in that year and that I so knew," the
      nation's 39th Vice President told the stilled

      Judge Hoffman sentenced Mr. Agnew to three years'
      probation and fined him $10,000. The judge declared
      from the bench that he would have sent Mr. Agnew to
      prison had not Attorney General Elliot L. Richardson
      personally interceded, arguing that "leniency is

      In his dramatic courtroom statement, Mr. Agnew
      declared that he was innocent of any other wrongdoing
      but that it would "seriously prejudice the national
      interest" to involve himself in a protracted struggle
      before the courts or Congress.

      Mr. Agnew also cited the national interest in a letter
      to President Nixon saying that he was resigning.

      "I respect your decision," the President wrote to Mr.
      Agnew in a "Dear Ted" letter made public by the White
      House. The letter hailed Mr. Agnew for "courage and
      candor," praised his patriotism and dedication, and
      expressed Mr. Nixon's "great sense of personal loss."
      But it agreed that the decision was "advisable in
      order to prevent a protracted period of national
      division and uncertainty."

      The resignation automatically set in motion, for the
      first time, the provisions of the 25th Amendment to
      the Constitution, under which the Republican President
      must nominate a successor who will be subject to
      confirmation by a majority vote in both houses of
      congress, where Democrats predominate. Until a
      successor is confirmed and sworn in, the Speaker of
      the House, Carl Albert Democrat of Oklahoma, will be
      first in line of succession to the Presidency.

      Mr. Agnew's sudden resignation came only 11 days after
      he made an emotional declaration to a Los Angeles
      audience: "I will not resign if indicted! I will not
      resign if indicted!" It marked the second time in the
      nation's history that the Vice-Presidency was vacated
      by resignation. The first occasion was in 1832, when
      John C. Calhoun stepped down after he was chosen to
      fill a Senate seat from South Carolina.

      Mr. Agnew's decision appeared to have been based on
      personal, rather than political or historic,

      Close and authoritative associates of Mr. Agnew said
      that, contrary to official White House denials, Mr.
      Nixon at least twice asked him to resign after it was
      disclosed on Aug. 6 that the Vice President was under

      The requests were said to have been spurned by Mr.
      Agnew until sometime in the last week. According to
      some associates, Mr. Agnew was advised by his defense
      attorneys that the Department of Justice and the
      Internal Revenue Service had obtained
      "incontrovertible evidence" of unreported income while
      he held office in Maryland.

      Even so, the Vice President's closest associates had
      expected him to fight the accusations or at least to
      continue to seek a forum to try, as he did in his
      courtroom statement today, to place the accusations
      within the context of "a long-established pattern of
      political fund raising" in his home state.

      Said to Have Accepted Reluctantly

      Yesterday, the defense attorneys and officials at the
      Justice Department reportedly reached agreement on the
      plan under which Mr. Agnew would resign, plead no
      contest to the single tax-evasion charge and accept
      the department's pledge to seek a light sentence.

      According to the sources, Mr. Agnew reluctantly
      accepted the proposal when he returned to Washington
      from a speaking engagement yesterday in New York and
      then told the President of his reluctant decision at 6
      o'clock last night.

      Shortly after 2 P.M. today, Mr. Agnew's staff was
      assembled in his office in the Executive Office
      Building next to the White House. As the Vice
      President was addressing the court in Baltimore, his
      military advisor, Maj. Gen. John M. Dunn, informed the
      staff of his decision.

      Some of the aides wept. Others, stunned by the
      announcement, asked such things as how they should
      answer the telephone. And a number of them privately
      and bitterly denounced the President.

      One of Mr. Agnew's stanchest supporters, Senator Barry
      Goldwater, Republican of Arizona, declared publicly
      that Mr. Agnew had been "treated shamefully by persons
      in responsible Government positions."

      Justice Department Is Assailed

      As Mr. Agnew had done until today, Senator Goldwater
      accused the Justice Department of having "convicted"
      the Vice President by headlines and newscasts based on
      leaks of official information before a single legal
      charge had been filed."

      Until today, Mr. Agnew had waged a determined campaign
      to halt the investigation of his Maryland political
      career, in which he was Baltimore County Executive
      before he became Governor. His attorneys had argued in
      preliminary legal skirmishes that the Constitution
      forbade the indictment of an incumbent Vice President
      and that the leaks of information about the charges
      against Mr. Agnew had destroyed any prospect for a
      fair hearing.

      Thus, Mr. Agnew's surprise appearance this afternoon
      in the Baltimore courtroom marked a swift abandonment
      of his campaign for vindication. Judge Hoffman had
      been scheduled to hear in the courtroom arguments by
      reporters and news organizations seeking to quash
      subpoenas served on them by the Vice President's

      Feared Effort Would Take Years

      At the same time, Mr. Agnew insisted that he was
      innocent of any other wrongdoing. But he said that his
      attorneys had advised him it might take years to
      establish his innocence and that he had been compelled
      to decide that "the public interest requires swift
      disposition of the problems which are facing me."

      Some of Mr. Agnew's associates said later today that
      the signals of his momentous decision had been there
      but that they had not wished to accept them for what
      they became.

      After the Vice President's emotional speech to the
      National 'Federation of Republican Women on Sept. 29
      in Los Angeles, his aides described plans for
      subsequent speeches in which Mr. Agnew would reiterate
      the charge that the Justice Department had selected
      him as a "big trophy" to use in restoring reputations
      blemished by "ineptness" in the investigation of the
      Republican burglary of the Democrats' headquarters in
      the Watergate complex here.

      But last Wednesday, President Nixon declared at a
      White House news conference that the charges against
      Mr. Agnew were "serious" and he defended the Justice
      Department's conduct of the case.

      One Associate Is 'Flabbergasted'

      The next night, in Chicago, Mr. Agnew delivered a
      speech marked by the absence of the accusations
      against the Justice Department and he asserted to
      assembled newsmen that "a candle is only so long, and
      eventually it burns out."

      His press spokesman, J. Marsh Thompson, and other
      Agnew associates were reportedly ordered to make
      themselves unavailable to newsmen beginning early last

      As one stunned Agnew associate remarked this
      afternoon, "I felt things were beginning to close in,
      but I still don't understand it. I'm flabbergasted."

      A White House official familiar with previous
      discussions between Mr. Nixon and Mr. Agnew said,
      significantly, that the decision was "not altogether
      unexpected here--I think the initiative, this time,
      was from [Mr. Agnew's] side."

      The shock of the announcement of Mr. Agnew's
      resignation had barely worn off when the White House
      and leaders in Congress began deliberating about both
      the politics and the mechanics of Vice Presidential

      Mr. Nixon was said to have begun consultation with
      leaders "both within and outside the Administration"
      on the nominee to succeed Mr. Agnew.

      Mike Mansfield, Democrat of Montana, the Senate
      majority leader, assembled bipartisan Congressional
      officials to discuss the selection process and prepare
      for hearings to assess the qualifications of the

      Speculation About Successor

      The White House has repeatedly denied that it had a
      "contingency" list of potential successors. Published
      reports, and renewed speculation today, centered on
      the possibility that Mr. Nixon would nominate Attorney
      General Richardson, Governor Rockefeller of New York,
      former Secretary of the Treasury John B. Connally,
      Deputy Attorney General William D. Ruckelshaus or
      Senator Goldwater.

      But Democratic leaders in the House have hinted
      privately that they would oppose a nominee who could
      be expected to confront their party three years from
      now as a Presidential candidate. Thus, others said to
      be under active consideration were such Republican
      elder statesmen as former Gov. William W. Scranton of
      Pennsylvania, former senator John Sherman Cooper of
      Kentucky and former Secretary of State William P.

      Mr. Agnew, his career ended at the age of 54 years,
      was said to have begun telephoning friends to thank
      them for their past support. He disappeared from
      public view this afternoon as the limousine in which
      he was riding pulled away from the Baltimore
      courthouse and the former Vice President waved to spectators.
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