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
By JAMES M. NAUGHTON
Special to The New York Times
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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
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
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
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.