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Government Shutdown Day 17
I. For the next is Iraq where we take just ten minutes to get you smarter on the intersection of tech business and politics sponsored by X Broadway. I'm Denver MAC on today's show. Facebook complains about its media coverage, and what's next for Sears, the first the federal government shutdown? So we're now in day seventeen of this thing with President Trump and congressional Democrats battling over whether or not they'll be funding appropriated for border wall. And that also means we're in day seventeen of hundreds of thousands of government workers going without paychecks trash piling up national parks, all sorts of federal approvals from new food products to initial public offerings not being granted and then pending disruptions for everything from tax refunds to stamps and for context, please. Remember, this is not at all normal. So in history, they've only been nine other times at the federal government shutdown for five days or more. And only one other time in the past twenty years if things don't open by Friday, we tie the record set in one thousand nine hundred five. If it lasts a Saturday. This one would stand in a league of its own and to be honest. There's not much cause for optimism. So President Trump has dug in his heels on the idea of five point six billion dollars for a border wall. And it doesn't seem to matter that the White House hasn't said exactly where it would put this wall or how it even gets to a specific number given that Trump keeps vacillating between the need for a concrete barrier or something made of steel slats or even the vice president Pence reportedly offered Democrats deal for only around two and a half billion. Nope. Trump wants what he wants Democrats. Meanwhile, aren't moving either. Instead, the house plans to offer as Lucians this week that would reopen all government agencies except for homeland security, which is where border protection sits. But there's no indication that Trump would sign such bills and history's any guide. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell won't bring a vote on something. He doesn't think Trump will sign the bottom line is always broken. But this is the difference between a flat tire and a busted. Axle when the auto repair guys out sick. Everyone agrees a fixes needed. But no one has a clue on how to do it in about twenty seconds. We'll go deeper on the shutdown with Xia executive editor, Mike Allen. But first this Tf X Broadway is bringing Times Square into the digital age. The project will be a powerhouse for event activation with a forty six story. Tower wrapped in LED screens, a luxury hotel experiential retail space and time squares only permanent outdoor stage. Learn more about this breathtaking platform at TSN, Broadway dot com. We're joined now by axios executive editor Mike Allen, so Mike you're in Vegas this morning for the conference, which means I assume you flew there were there TSA delays there weren't, but what a conversation about it here. Dan. It's something that's really breaking through in America. I think it was about way story for maybe the first ten days and now day seventeenth in one week really started to kick in and the stuff gets real as they say this Friday yesterday on meet the press, the president's acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, who's doing the job of the president's chief of staff said that if this isn't resolved by choose day that then that's gonna mess up the billing cycle of paychecks. The would go out Friday. So in the next twenty four ish next thirty six hours or or Metalitz throwed in a way that had had not before Friday. President Trump had a press conference, and he expressed optimism. There was going to be negotiations over the week. End. And maybe something would come of it, it appears that nothing came of those meetings. So is there any real reason for optimism right now that the government will reopen not only after Tuesday, but really anytime in the foreseeable future. We've known each other for a long time. I think that you know that I'm always up mystic. Not this time. There is at most one person in America. He's close to being solved. Maybe the president recently someone inside the White House told me that the president really believes he's winning. But Dan, I bet it doesn't look that way to you. It doesn't look like anyone's winning to be honest at this point the Democrats in theory. The house is gonna vote this week to reopen all agencies outside of homeland security from your perspective will Mitch McConnell bring that to the floor and bring that to a vote on his side to make Trump veto it or is he just going to ignore it altogether. Are right now that that will not happen. What does he had over the Christmas break when he stayed in the White House, what have gone to the capital of the rotunda? When the. Other congressional leaders were up -cation and said, I'm here. What's the Goshi eight? Let's make a deal. I mistake here by people inside wished that he had done something like that might have given him some leverage, it feels very much the Trump shutdown President Trump in that Oval Office meeting. He said two liter Schumer now speaker Pelosi said, I don't know hold my breath, and I'm gonna turn blue and they said, okay. And that's kind of where we are. You wrote over the weekend that from your perspective, the one thing that could change not just the narrative could actually potentially change the White House and Trump position on this is more and more and more stories when people do start losing paychecks and the paycheck really doesn't start to come in. And people start missing their rent potentially being victim and up, you know, in food blinds and stuff like that. That could be the thing that changes it is that you're feeling that. That's really the only thing that could break this impasse, which would basically make Trump back down Republican sources think that this pain is going to excavate quickly, especially if we get into a situation where we're in a payroll psycho. Where people are actually not going to be paid right now. People are on paper working not for money or at home be for load, maybe getting the money later, but getting the money later, it doesn't pay the rent that could make a big difference people in America with paycheck to paycheck, and most of the people who serve us in our government or serve government buildings as contractors don't make a lot and the president at that epic cre- wheel and some people called it devil-may-care. I called news conference at the president had in the rose garden the other day one of the reporters asked him a good question. They PLO would you say to a government employee who is working without pay. And he said, well, I'm gonna pay you in secure borders. Well, that may be great, but secure borders. Of course, do not buy shoes for your kids or like give them money for their field trip. And that's where we start hearing these stories, I think specifically from the military, I think Pacific from Trump country from red states from heartland state that foot Republic. Think 'cause instantly make a big difference? I remember the Josh green book about the campaign the two thousand sixteen campaign in there. He quotes him number former Trump adviser who said that it was number and Roger stone who came up with the idea of the wall really isn't demonic device to remind Trump to talk about immigration and to talk about border security, isn't as strange to you as it is to me that the government is now shutdown over something that was really just kind of a cliff note post it note during the campaign, and how it went from that to something tangible, so true. And by the way this morning on morning, Joe, Joe Scarborough Seinfeld suck down down about nothing. But usually shutdowns have very specific pinpoint being debated here. This abstract the ball, the president keeps changing his definition of what a wall is. And I can tell you that people inside the hill, the White House do not know how you solve this. No people keep saying on TV you can't just be a little on each sad. I think you can I think you can mess around with a deaf. Initiative border security is and maybe come up with something. But it's hard. And some Republicans were telling me g I don't see how we sold this short of the big deal. And Dan, I think we're gonna hear a lot about this today's app. So the big deal would include Dhaka big deal would include some protection for the dreamers came into this country as citizens, but that's months away. There's a supreme court ruling in between that and it's part of what I think a lot of people are complaining is the sort of callous way, the president has talked about this just throw out this could go on for year or years. We'll couldn't. But if you're a federal employee, and if you're really struggling, and if you heard that that might hit you kinda hard my gallon executive editor of axios the normally optimistic except for today. Mike, Allan, thank you very much and welcome back. Thank you. My final two right after this every day four hundred thousand people pass through Times Square and soon titans of the digital economy will have a new way to reach them. TSL's? Broadway is a retail playland designed to host fifteen million visitors every year. With interactive retail, live performances, food and beverage service and a luxury hotel. Learn more at TSN, Broadway dot com. Now, it's for my final two, and I up Sears, which Reuters reports is preparing for the worst. Hiring liquidation firm in case a can't finalize a rescue deal. With chairman Eddie Lampert liquidator called Abacus has done worked for Sears in the past. But this would be to sell everything left all remaining inventory, plus even things like store shelves and lighting fixtures. We should know more tomorrow when Sears Lampard's firms appear in bankruptcy court finally NBC's Dylan Byers reports that Mark Zuckerberg and other top Facebook executives are quote fed up with the antagonistic coverage by the New York Times. So I this defensiveness isn't surprising. No one likes to be regularly hammered in the press. But the reality is here with great power comes great scrutiny and complaining about media coverage doesn't stop that media coverage just after President Trump, and we're done. Thanks for listening to my producers, Adam Grassi and Tim show. Vers have a great national bobblehead day, and we'll be back tomorrow with another pro rata podcast.
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6 - Episode 6: A Disappearing Act
What you're about to hear? I think is one of the most surreal clips, I've maybe ever heard when it comes to American politics. This is a TV interview with the vice president, and what he's about to allege here is that the president of the United States who he served with was threatening to have him murdered. This is not an outtake from some overacted political thriller. This is a real interview that really happened and the vice president here, of course, is Spiro Agnew Agnew says he left because of a death threat from the White House a quotes Nixon chief of staff Alexander Haig urging him to resign. With the words. The president has a lot of power. Don't forget that Agnew writes that the remarks at a chill through his body. He took it as an innuendo that anything could happen. He might have in Agnew's words convenient accident. An interpretation that even today he refuses to disown. I didn't know what general Haig meant when he said. Anything may be in the offing things may get nasty and dirty. There's no doubt in my mind that these things are possible. I don't say it was a probability. But I do say it was a possibility you think that there were men around Richard Nixon, either in the White House staff or in the official mechanism of the CIA or capable of killing a vice president of the United States if they felt he was an embarrassment. I don't doubt that at all. Spiro agnew. Didn't just make that allegation. That one time. He made it repeatedly. We wrote about it in a book. He went on the record in a series of interviews stating that he believed president Richard Nixon might have him killed. You say that you were actually fearful that if you did not go along president Nixon, our general Haig, it's not quite clear might have ought to do SAS innate. Who'd you explain that? I was concerned. And I think my concern at that time based on my frame of mind after being seven months in a pressure cooker of attempts to get me to resign office. Gave me reason to be concerned. I brought along with me this testimony from the select committee on the government operations committee involving intelligence activities. This is what Spiro Agnew pulls out at. This point is a copy of US government report about the CIA as efforts to assassinate Cuban dictator. Fidel castro. He says what that report shows is that even though the CIA was never given a direct order from the president to kill Castro. They knew they were authorized to do it. He's making the point that even if Nixon never gave a direct order to kill him to kill his vice president it's conceivable the CIA would take its cues from Nixon and act anyway, it is possible for these things to happen. I've never said it was a probability that my life was in danger. I said, it was one of the factors that crossed my mind, and it was the straw that broke the camel's back after all the pressures that have been put on me Spiro Agnew was alleging on national television that as a sitting vice president he was possibly the target of a contract killing by the president. He said he even bought a gun at the time for his own protection. You acknowledge that you had fear this time. But after you left office, did you ever go to the federal government to get a permit for a handgun? Yes. Why did you get that handgun? What period was I think it was immediately after I left office. I got it because I still had some fears. You'll have a Hinden. No, I've never carried a handgun. I thought it was sufficient that people would know permit to carry one. This is the story that Spiro Agnew wanted people to believe about the circumstances in which he left office that he was another one of Richard Nixon's victims Agnes tale of woe was that Nixon's inner circle specifically Nixon's chief of staff Al Haig pressured him for weeks to resign. And when he refused to do it. They threatened his life and thereby forced him out when he otherwise wouldn't have left. Okay. Maybe seems nuts. But maybe that said there is another explanation for why Spiro Agnew step down when he did. And it does involve a three letter federal agency, but not the CIA. It involves special agents from the IRS who had been quietly and very diligently going through vice president Agnew's mast those agents and the Baltimore federal prosecutors working with them had already turned up, the smoking gun evidence of the bribery and extortion scheme that Agnew had been running in Maryland and in the White House, but they also started turning up something else. Details about what exactly Spiro Agnew seemed to be doing with all that money. He was making as a criminal and that part of the investigation got into areas of Agnew's personal life that were may be becoming a little uncomfortable for him. There were some personal expenses in there that pre Monica Lewinsky and pre all that we come across in some stories that we came across. Which unlike Ken, sorry, I guess we just said this is this is not a part of the case, Ron Liebman and his fellow Baltimore. Prosecutors had stumbled upon an aspect of Agnew's life and crimes that may have hit a nerve for the vice president. These guys. Personal peccadilloes, you know, they have money and power. They do stupid things, and we came across financial evidence of that. And we heard some stories about that one of them quite bizarre. But we that was some part of the case. The baltimore. Prosecutors never actually used the information. They would start to uncover about Agnes personal life. But Spiro Agnew was aware that the IRS was digging into it. And what it involved was evidence of what seemed like a secret life mistresses sports cars expensive gifts that never seemed to make it to Agnew's wife. Judy. Here's prosecutor Tim Baker. There was jewelry to truly to Agnew a woman's watch. Which Hugh de never got a sense against. Death threats and handguns and CIA assassination plots sounded like a really cool reason to have to step down. But that probably wasn't the reason he had to step down Spiro Agnew had carefully. Crafted this straight arrow, moralistic hardline public image as a man of honesty and virtue and conservative integrity. He knew that. If he continued to fight all of that would come crashing down around him. It was finally time to cut his losses and go away. You're listening to back. Now, I'm your host. Good evening. Washington was stunned today by the disclosure that vice president Agnew was under criminal investigation by federal authorities in his home state of Maryland concerned. Why's he, you know, he gets into court, and he says waving I changed my mind and the people in the room the guest, then became clear what this is. Straight Ballin can power a convicted criminal. Dinnertime can be a challenge for busy families, especially this time of year. Well, gobble is here to help. They are your solution for delicious stress free dinners, this holiday gobbles dinner. Prep kits are delivered fresh right to your doorstep and can be cooked up in just fifteen minutes. Really? That's because gobble sous. Chefs do all the prep work for you. They take care of peeling chopping marinating and creating the perfect sauces by a long shot the gobble meals. I've cooked where some of the simplest and quickest I've ever made. I haven't stopped thinking about the roasted broccoli and cauliflower. Keen wobble? I made from gobble gobble wants to help you keep your holiday season stress free and healthy. So they're offering listeners of bag, man. This special limited time deal to get fifty dollars off your first box of fresh, delicious dinners. Just go to gobble dot com slash bag. Man, that's gobbled dot com slash bag, man. Episode six a disappearing act the night show will not be seeing tonight. So that way may bring you the following NBC news special report evening, the country tonight is in the midst of what may be the most serious constitutional crisis in its history. The Saturday night massacre took place on October twentieth. Nineteen Seventy-three it was Richard Nixon in a fit of rage. Trying to end the investigation into Watergate that his own Justice department was conducting Nixon ordered his attorney general Elliot Richardson to fire the special prosecutor who was leading that investigation. And when Richardson refused to do that and resigned himself. Instead that sparked a true blue constitutional crisis ages of the FBI acting at the direction of the White House sealed off the offices of the special prosecutor the offices of the attorney general and the offices of the deputy attorney general that's a stunning develop. Velopment and nothing even remotely like it has happened in all of our history. The Saturday night massacre is the signal moment in US history. But many of the people who've lived that history are still around to tell it JT. Smith was Elliot Richardson's top assistant at the Justice department that day found like a pretentious twenty nine year old, but I was sorely vexed by events, and I had a lot of yellow legal pad notes bore upon to stuff we've been talking about. I took my notes put them in my briefcase and walked out without being searched by the FBI, and I took him home. And I was sufficiently paranoid about the direction of the country. I hid them in. The attic of my house what sort of incredible to realize with hindsight. And what's never mentioned in the history books about that moment is that Elliot Richardson and his team when the Saturday night massacre happened they were just. Coming off. What may have been one of the most dramatic moments in the history of the US Justice department the Saturday night massacre happened on October twentieth. Nineteen Seventy-three just ten days before that on October tenth attorney general Elliot Richardson, had single-handedly forced the resignation of the vice president of the United States. It was October ninth when Elliot Richardson cut a high stakes plea deal with vice president Agnew's, lawyers that would keep Agnew out of jail. But in exchange he would offer his immediate resignation from office. Agnew's attorney mardi London helped reach that deal. I feel at Elliot Richardson in the end made a deal because he saw this as a potential constitutional crisis and a national disaster. The deal was made as controversial as it was. It was made. But what happened to Spiro Agnew in the last twenty four hours of his vice presidency. It was this all night sirens. Wailing down to the last minute surprise sweat fest. Like, you can't believe in all of US history. A vice president had never before been forced to resign. And at that moment. It wasn't really clear how to do it logistically even they had to dig through the archives to figure out the logistics to figure out that the way of vice president technically resigns, the instrument of resignation turns out it's through a letter submitted to the secretary of state. Okay. So he'll resign to the secretary of state after figuring that out and finalizing the deal and setting a court date for the very next day October tenth mardi London. And the rest of Agnew's defense team rushed back to the vice president's office to draft that resignation letter again, there was no precedent for what that should look like what should the letter say nobody had written thought about preparing for this. We've got two hours to get out of resignation letter. I don't know how so many people got in that room. He had the vice president had some guy who is like counsel to the vice president another guy was there. Another guy was Frank Sinatra had sent a lawyer and now people writing fantastic long explanations. One guy said resigning because the president is pushing me out and -rageous another letters. I'm really zoning. Because of the press wanted me gone. The guys of the parliament of Justice wanted me gone this fucking Democrats. They want me gone. You know, and we're going away an hour later. The clock is ticking. The temperature room is the guy said I got a guys I got it. That's Pat myself on the back here. I've got the hill. You what's your letter? I hereby resign vice presidents United States. Respectfully vices chase. That'll do it. That chaotic scene in the vice president's office, though, that was nothing compared to what was happening back in Baltimore that night at the US attorney's office the plea deal that had been reached with Agnew allowed. The prosecutors to submit a detailed statement of evidence into the record laying out what crimes exactly Spiro Agnew had committed. The payoffs has governor the payoffs vice president everything the prosecutors had what the prosecutors would ultimately draft was a forty page long statement of evidence laying out Agnew's alleged crimes, but the night before the court date. It wasn't done yet. And these three Baltimore prosecutors they stayed up all night that night trying to get it finished in time Zoll written the night before we went to court. I mean like this old nighter thing was back in college. We were exchanging jabs I think maybe TIMMY wrote, you know, these parts, and I wrote some parts Ron mode some. We just started dictating and drafts would go pages wasn't like complete drafts. Sections would go back and forth. Back and forth. Marked up retype marked up retyping. We were on a deadline like one or two in the morning, the Turney generally United States and Henry Peterson. I think drive to Baltimore in the middle of the night early in the morning and sit in George Bell's office as we start feeding him these papers, which was a strong deterrence. You're on the United States two in the morning, and Baltimore, you know, my best days I wouldn't want to be in Baltimore two in the morning. And I think at like six AM it's given to the US marshals who then we were later told it points on the Baltimore Washington expressway were doing in excess of eighty five miles an hour. And then it had to be to Agnew's lawyers by something like eight AM in Washington with some terrible. Our they had they got it there. Just in time. They got it there. In fact, I've minutes late this forty page statement of evidence that was thrown together all night overnight. It was rushed to DC with sirens. Wailing police escort. Like, it was the holy grail for these. Prosecutors it kind of was Spiro Agnew was about to walk into court and plead to a felony count of tax evasion. And these prosecutors wanted the American people to know that he had not only been caught for tax evasion. We knew what it had to do it had to bury them. So that the country could see this wasn't a witch-hunt to use a current expression that there was a very substantial solid case against him. It was a big issue for all of us all of us because what we certainly couldn't allow to happen would be for the vice president to plead Nola to attacks count. And then the walkout and say, this is nothing. This is. Is some little mistake. I made this is absolutely. These guys are liars, I made a little stake on my tax returns. I have made amends. I've been pay back the money that I should have paid. And I'm going back to work. So the statement of evidence was finally ready. The vice president's resignation letter was finally ready. A two pm court date was set, but not a single soul in the country except for the people directly involved knew what was about to happen in that courtroom. Now, the press knew that there was going to be a hearing in court that afternoon something to do with the wrangling over the Agnew case. But with the press thought the hearing was going to be about was them about newspapers efforts to quash these subpoenas that Spiro Agnew lawyers had sent to various reporters to try to get them to reveal their sources, the press showed up that day ready to cover a hearing about that all of the lawyers for the news organizations showed up at the council's table ready to fight about those subpoenas to the reporters and then into the courtroom walked the attorneys for the vice president and they see us walking in. And we sit the near table, and they look at us. With hostility. I mean. I me sneering move ever just angry and then to federal marshals come over to them. And they say pick up all your papers and moved to the gallery, and they're resistant. But I mean, these federal marshals and marshals do not explain why they just said clear this table and clear it now, you're go stand in the back, and they stand in the back man in walks to occupy that table, Elliot Richardson, George bell. I some more of bells assistance, the bailiff a makes an announcement, ladies and gentlemen, proceedings about ready to begin this courtroom is going to be locked. So if you can't stay you have to get out you have to leave now. The Baltimore prosecutors are they're sitting next to the attorney general himself. They know and the vice president's lawyers know that what was about to happen in that courtroom was something really big and surprising the resignation was ready. The forty paid statement of his crimes was ready. The deal was ready and the country was about to have the whole thing. Sprung on them for the first time the hearing was set to begin at two o'clock sharp. There was just one problem. It's now two o'clock. I am sweating because at our table is me and Jay tuchus and Judd best is back in clerk's office on the telephone. And it's two o'clock and somebody from this plays missing. Everything was set. One of Agnew's lawyers was in the clerk's office at the court waiting to give the order over the phone to deliver Agnew's. Resignation letter to transmit that letter to the secretary of state as soon as the vice president himself walked into the courtroom. It was all choreographed each moment scripted and ordered for a very specific reason. And the time was now, but the vice president of the United States was nowhere to be found on the prosecution side, they had long feared that something just like this might happen. But we concerned was he, you know, he gets into court, and he says, he's not changed my mind. Bogus charges. I don't know. Why? I'm here. I'm the vice president of the United States. I'm immune from prosecution. Marshall could you unlock that door? Please. I gotta go. You know, we're dealing with vice person in the United States. We are being as careful as we can be. We're on tenterhooks. Right. We want this done. Just so it had to be done. Just so it wouldn't happen at two o'clock when the vice president was the only one missing it looked for a brief moment. Like, it might not happen even to Agnew's lawyers. Listen, you wanna know if I if I got a little nervous between two and two. Oh one. Cause the man was omitted -ly users. I was anxious. I wouldn't say nervous, but I was anxious. Look, you know. If I have a two o'clock court date, I'm there to quarter of two for a long time. I can understand him not wanting to come into that courtroom. I do get him not wanting to come into that courtroom. And sit there that table for fifteen minutes with all those people staring at the back of his neck. So I don't know. I assume that he he may have been there. Two quarter two sitting in his car out at the curb looking at the say, okay, I better go in. And maybe my watch was admitted fast. Maybe he was there at two o'clock. I was anxious. But I'd never occurred to me that he was not going to do it. That wait for the vice president to show up the question of whether or not he would show up that hung in the air for a very tense moment until the courtroom doors. Swung open again. Tool. One exactly in walks out client, and the people in the room, the guest, then became clear, what this is about was a noticeable hush gasp. It was. Surprise to so many people in their port was locked Agnew walks. In charge gets on the bench bail the locker calls way. All rise. Everybody rises seventy six out, and there's you know, Spiro Agnew, well, tailored suit, and is nice haircut about the plea mellow contender to filming Judd best comes out of the clerk's office and says I just been on the telephone with the offices of the secretary of state they have received the vice president's resignation letter. And ultimately, the judge accepts the plea and sentenced them to a fine and sense of probation, and we walk out of the courtroom with the ex vice president of the United States. It was a stunning. Stunning stunning development. For the first time in American history. A sitting vice president appeared in court to answer criminal charges for the first time in American history. Vice president pled to a felony and for the first time in American history. Vice president resigned his office into scrapes Spiro Agnew arrived at the courthouse as the vice president as he crossed the threshold into the courtroom his resignation was simultaneously submitted. He left that courtroom minutes later as a convicted felon. He then spoke to the stunned reporters outside who had had no idea that any of this was coming. I gotta go and black blade deny the assumption. By the prosecutors with regard to that. Bribery, extortion on my part, I will have nothing more to say. I will make dressed to the nation within a day Spiro Agnew decision to agree to a plea deal. And resign it happened. So fast that Agnew's own staff at the White House. Didn't even know that day that it was going to happen. Here's David Keene Agnew's top political aide. He went to Baltimore to plead. No lo and Mike Dunn. Who's on the chief of staff and called the senior staff together to pouted fist on the desk. Can't the son of the balls become intelligent. She'll there was a lot of crazy stuff that happened in the United States of America in nineteen seventy three, but the vice president of the United States suddenly resigning in disgrace surprise that's done the country. Good evening. If you have just joined us, we are Blige to tell you the story we've been running since shortly after two this afternoon. Namely that vice president Spiro t avenue is now the former vice president he resigned today. It's been quite a day for news J. She really has. I think the public is still in shock many people. Just this believe it it's hard to accept that. It has come to this. There was this belief on Capitol Hill where most house and Senate members had come to believe the vice president's assertions that he fully intended to fight the charges all the way, we have a period of time. His politically Rosen confidence and faith of the whole system has been challenged by many people now to have this kind of confirmation of the worst suspicions of some people held is really a very profound impact on the volt country. And you tell us what your reaction is the resume. It was totally unexpected. And I. I don't know what to say that was the majority leader in the Senate at the time democratic Senator Mike Mansfield, the reaction in the country to Spiro Agnew sudden resignation kind of a muddled mess. It was a lot of things all at once. It was stunned confusion from a lot of people. There was elation from those who felt that Justice had been served. There was also absolute outrage from Agnew supporters who really had stayed with him right till the very end. And just think about it. I think he's a man of these word, and I think they've been doing the same thing ever since I started building. And I think it's just that. He's a great, man. I think it was very unnecessary. I'm just oh, I'm just sick. I'm very unhappy. I don't think it would never here. I think it's a lot of political hob wash in. Oh, did you. Certainly did. But he's thinking, no. I think it's very unfortunate. Amancio, it'd be railroaded or something I don't know if this is all fact. Has been brought Spiro Agnew built this base of support in the Republican party. He convinced his supporters that he was innocent. He was the victim of a witch-hunt. And even though he had just pled no contest to a felony in open court, his supporters, just still couldn't accept it. The couldn't absorb it. They had been prime to believe in his innocence and to hate and resent and suspect everything about this prosecution. But you know, a weird thing happened in the courtroom that last weird day. It was just an odd moment in the courtroom itself that didn't seem like much at the time, but it would alternately shake even Agnew's most committed supporters, and it would alternately cost Agnew much more than just having to resign from office and walk away. That's next. Hey, it's MSNBC's Chris as if you enjoyed bag man, be sure to check out, my friend, Rachel meadow. On my podcast. Why is this happening, right? Get the opportunity to dig deep into the forces behind the story's playing out in the news in order understand why certain cultural and political phenomena came to be Rachel joins me to talk about covering the news in this unprecedented political moment, we also talk all about bagman, and how this incredible podcast came to be so click on over and check out. Why is this happening and you can list now wherever you get your podcasts. Spiro Agnew is in disgrace fallen from power convicted criminal. It's something that none of his critics would even have predicted not long ago. And it is one of the biggest news stories of our time the day that Spiro Agnew walked into a federal courthouse in Poltimore to plead to a felony and resigned, the vice presidency one of the people inside the courtroom that day was a law professor from George Washington University, professor named John bans half, I showed up and initially. They would not let me in. I was reluctantly let into the courtroom. But with a very solemn warning that if I attempted to say anything if I stood up if I did anything at all that were too big marshals behind me, and they would immediately take me out of the courtroom. And I was told in very strong language. Don't stand don't say anything. Don't try to have any ROY. Will it was a little bit of a strange thing for this law professor to be in court that day to him. It was stranger still the way that he felt threatened by those federal marshalls. But in his view, the strangest thing about the whole proceeding in that courtroom that day was the resolution of it Spiro Agnew was being allowed to plead to a felony. But he wasn't being sent to jail, and he wasn't even being forced to pay back any of the bribe money that he allegedly took what was the punishment here. Exactly. I mean resigning from office. Yes. But is that it after that remarkable day in court where surprise the vice president is pleading to a felony? And oh, by the way, he's also resigned after that day fans out went back to his law classes at GW. And there he found that his law students were as perplexed as he was about how the whole thing shook out. I mean, they said to me. Professor van ships if somebody robs a Bank, and he's given a plea deal. He's at least required to give back the money Agnew as a governor. Vice president should be held to an even higher standard. They were outraged that he was allowed to get off on a minor plea. No time and keep all the ill-gotten gains, Spiro Agnew had resigned. His office. He was basically starting to disappear into obscurity, but this class of law students decided they were gonna make a project out of him. They weren't going to let him go away quietly. The law students in professor John bans afs class came up with a plan. Their first effort was to lobby Maryland's governor to bring a civil lawsuit against Agnew since after all when he was taking those bribes shaking down those contractors. It was the state of Maryland that was being defrauded the state of Maryland should get that money back. The governor of Maryland met with these students to hear them out here their plan. But even though he took the meeting, and he heard what they had to say at the end, he told them. No, he wouldn't do it. When we left we will literally be wilder recall writing back in the car, and there's students why didn't they bring it it? We we don't understand what's going on. What's the, and I'm there professor who's supposed to know these things. And of course, I had no answer for them. I could not figure out why they wouldn't want to bring the actions only quite a bit later when we learned that governor Marvin Mandel was likewise on the take. And with probably on the take literally while he was decided not to bring this action the state of Maryland had been harmed. But the governor of the state said he wasn't willing to bring this case. So the students went to plan B, they found an old British common law legal principle that they believed would let them sue on Maryland's behalf. Even if they didn't have the states support to do it. They found some Maryland taxpayers to be there plaintiffs and those law students did sue Spiro. Agnew on behalf of Maryland tax payers to recoup the bribe money that he had taken it ended up taking years, but eventually they won a court ruled that Agnew had in fact taken bribes that he had to frauded the state, and he was ordered to write a check to the state of Maryland for more than a quarter million dollars. And those students they not only exacted some of the punishment. They felt like Agnew had escaped back in nineteen seventy three. They also got one more crucial thing when it comes to the scales of Justice here. They got a confession. Well, a confession by proxy back in nineteen Seventy-three when this little investigation in Baltimore, I started Agnew himself. It turns out admitted the whole scheme to his lawyer his personal lawyer a man named George white then later in his own book about the scandal Agnew hoops broke the confidentiality of his own attorney client relationship with George white when he chose to write about the conversations he'd had with white while the case was unfolding that was a mistake. Because when that lawsuit was eventually brought against Agnew by the law students at GW, not only was the court able to force Agnew to pay back. Some of the money he had ripped off from the tax payers. The court was also able to get worn testimony under oath from Agnew's own lawyer about Agnew confessing that he was guilty today only because ordered to by the judge. George white broke his islands. He described learning about the kickbacks from three Agnew associates who were threatening to implicate the vice president confronting Agnew. He said Ted, this is terribly serious. You've got to level with me. I've got to know the truth, according to white Agnew replied, it's been going on for thousand years what they told you is true. Quietly in the courts when Spiro Agnew is already a trivia question and a hard one quietly while basically nobody was watching Agnew's entire story fell apart all the denials all the claims that this was a witch hunt or that he was the real victim here. It all fell apart and his guilt was laid bare in court and for the record because his longtime personal lawyer flipped on him. When Agnew showed up to court that Dan October nineteen Seventy-three to plead to a felony and resigned, the vice presidency that forty page statement of evidence that was assembled by the prosecutors it was released to the public. It was this damning recitation of what Agnew had done as an elected official all of the payoffs all of the extortion, all of the crimes committed even as vice president, and that document all these detailed allegations from the prosecutor's. It is a matter of public record. But even so it's one that sort of feel secret. Even now all these years later, it is hard today to find that document, even if you're really looking for it. The information contained in it is not what people immediately think when they hear the name Spiro Agnew. Oh, yeah. Agnew nixon's. Vice president did me have like taxation problem something from back before the time he became vice president. That's how Agnew's remembered but Agnew really was way worse than history remembers him for if he's remembered at all Agnew, basically disappeared into history after he resigned, he got a job working for Eva Gabor 's fifth husband seriously, Frank Sinatra helped him pay the relatively minor fines that were imposed by the court back in nineteen Seventy-three Agnew wrote a bad novel, a thriller with sort of unsettling sex scenes in it, frankly, he also published that memoir in which he claimed that Richard Nixon was going to have him killed. But basically big picture Agnew just went away and the few times that he did reappear. He was always asking for sympathy. This is from an interview with him in nineteen eighty. Penalty. I pay is very heavy people say Agnew didn't Patty penalty. He bought his way out of jail with vice presidency. But they don't know what a penalty pay. They don't understand. I lost my right to practice law. I lost my pension and the worst penalty of all is during those years immediately following my resignation when I was not at all answering the charges to walk down the street and see people say there, he goes to be recognizable not just in the United States, but any place I went in the world that's a pretty severe penalty Spiro Agnew. Probably does deserve to be more infamous than he is. But the team of federal prosecutors discovered his crimes and took him down. They deserve to be more famous than they are George bell. The US attorney who refused to let pressure from the White House interfere with his investigation. He went on to prosecute that subsequent. Sitting governor of Maryland for corruption Marvin Mandel democrat got him to Ron Liebman Barney Skolnick they both took part in that prosecution of Maryland's next governor and then like George bell. They both moved into quiet careers in private practice. Tim baker. He ended up getting George bells old job as Maryland US attorney before he too went into private practice. They all ended up doing fine. But none of them ended up at into our history books and our national memory for the role that they played in well, saving the Republic from a national catastrophe saving the country from a criminal vice president ascending to the presidency amid the ashes of Watergate, which would have plunged the country from Watergate right into another catastrophic scandal in the lighthouse and likely the forced removal of the next president right after Nixon what further damage. Would have been inflicted on the country if we'd had to remove not one but two corrupt criminal sitting presidents back to back within months of each other. These young kids from Baltimore these determined federal prosecutors, they saved us from that disaster. Their case was obstructed from the White House on down. They were attacked and maligned by the most powerful politicians in the country. They endured that at the ripe old average age about thirty two. They kept their heads down, and they kept going their bosses. US attorney George bell and attorney general Elliot Richardson, they lead them without fear or favor. They shielded them. And then Elliot Richardson singlehandedly got Agnew out restoring and protecting the line of succession for the American presidency. Elliot Richardson hell the press conference the day after Spiro Agnew resigned as Feis president. And remember Elliot Richardson would himself before stout of office just days later less than two weeks later in the Saturday night massacre. But during that press conference upon the resignation of Agnew Richardson was asked directly what lessons the country should take from what we just been through. We've been unprecedented in American. What do you believe relation? Can learn. I would hope that. Nation would feel at. The process. Of criminal Justice is one that it can trust and have confidence. I would hope that would feel that. The interests of the nation have been placed first by all those concerned in pudding the vice-president. So. I would hope that most fundamentally. All of us would have confidence that our system works. Indeed, I think this is the most primitive as Beck of all that has taken place over. All the closures the investigations the indictment. They have exposed. The shoddy side of. Governmental and political process. But they have also demonstrated that governmental political process is capable of uncovering these things and having uncovered taking proper action. The system works. The system is not destroyed by bad people behaving badly it can deal with bad behavior with corruption from those in power our system doesn't break when that happens it's designed to confront that problem and to fix it. And in this case, it did a criminal occupant of the White House who tried to obstruct Justice at every turn to destroy the credibility of his own Justice department to smear the free press reporting on it. He was not allowed to get away with it. Thanks to Elliot Richardson, and George bell and that team of young scrappy Baltimore. Prosecutors the line of succession to the US presidency was restored and protected and Justice was done. George bell passed away not long ago. He died in January of twenty seventeen just days before the inauguration of our current president. Upon his passing one of his successors as US attorney in Maryland put on a public statement honoring the work that George bell did throughout his career. But particularly focusing on this case, the statement said this George bell was a legendary federal prosecutor and exemplary public servant and a lawyer of unsurpassed integrity. Although George Bell's family was politically active and vice president Agnew was a member of Bell's own political party bell did not hesitate to pursue this case his commitment to Justice serves as an example to us all that statement about one Republican having the courage to pursue another without hesitation that was written by one of George bell successors as Maryland US attorney. It was written by rod Rosenstein, who is now deputy attorney general of the United States. Sure to join us next week for the final episode of bag, ma'am. You will hear how this all turns out? That's next week. We'll see them. Bag man is a production of MSNBC NBC universal. This series is executive produced by Mike yard yards. It was written by myself and Mike Yar editorial and production support from Jonathan Hirsch and Marissa's Schneiderman from neon media, and you can find much more about the story on our website, which is MSNBC dot com slash.