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Bag Man: The Wild Crimes, Audacious…
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Bag Man: The Wild Crimes, Audacious Cover-up, and Spectacular Downfall of… (edição 2020)

por Rachel Maddow (Autor), Michael Yarvitz (Autor)

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1718125,839 (4.39)3
"The knockdown, drag-out, untold story of the other scandal that rocked Nixon's White House, and reset the rules for crooked presidents to come-with new reporting that expands on Rachel Maddow's Peabody Award-nominated podcast. Is it possible for a sitting vice president to direct a vast criminal enterprise within the halls of the White House? To have one of the most brazen corruption scandals in American history play out while nobody's paying attention? And for that scandal to be all but forgotten decades later? The year was 1973, and Spiro T. Agnew, the former governor of Maryland, was Richard Nixon's second-in-command. Long on firebrand rhetoric and short on political experience, Agnew had carried out a bribery and extortion ring in office for years, when-at the height of Watergate-three young federal prosecutors discovered his crimes and launched a mission to take him down before it was too late, before Nixon's impending downfall elevated Agnew to the presidency. The self-described "counterpuncher" vice president did everything he could to bury their investigation: dismissing it as a "witch hunt," riling up his partisan base, making the press the enemy, and, with a crumbling circle of loyalists, scheming to obstruct justice in order to survive. In this blockbuster account, Rachel Maddow and Michael Yarvitz detail the investigation that exposed Agnew's crimes, the attempts at a cover-up-which involved future president George H. W. Bush-and the backroom bargain that forced Agnew's resignation but also spared him years in federal prison. Based on the award-winning hit podcast, Bag Man expands and deepens the story of Spiro Agnew's scandal and its lasting influence on our politics, our media, and our understanding of what it takes to confront a criminal in the White House."--… (mais)
Membro:strangewallpaper
Título:Bag Man: The Wild Crimes, Audacious Cover-up, and Spectacular Downfall of a Brazen Crook in the White House
Autores:Rachel Maddow (Autor)
Outros autores:Michael Yarvitz (Autor)
Informação:Crown (2020), 304 pages
Colecções:A sua biblioteca
Avaliação:
Etiquetas:Print_books

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Bag Man: The Wild Crimes, Audacious Cover-up, and Spectacular Downfall of a Brazen Crook in the White House por Rachel Maddow

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Mostrando 1-5 de 8 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
More of a 4.5.

I had heard of the Bagman podcast but never got around to catching up. But I remember watching Rachel talk about Agnew during a couple of A blocks of her show and was surprised that I hadn’t even heard the name of this supposedly infamous VP. So when I saw the announcement for this book, I was obviously very excited and immediately got around to reading it as soon as I got my library copy.

I naturally don’t want to hash the facts from the book again in this review, but reading about this whole saga of a corrupt VP who took envelopes of cash bribes even while in the White House was just stunning, and even more surprising was the fact that this seems like a very forgotten piece of history, probably overshadowed by the Watergate scandal and its aftermath. However, the main point I took from this story was the parallels to the Trump administration - from the numerous similarities between the two figures and their brazen corruption, as well as the attacks they go on when caught. It’s almost like I was reading about the past four years and not something that happened almost 50 years ago. And just like what happened with Agnew, it feels like this administration might also escape prosecutions or any consequences, either due to a too lenient Biden admin or more possibly, lots of self serving pardons.

But what felt not similar between Agnew’s case and the current administration was the conduct of the Attorney General, the US attorney of Maryland as well as the prosecutors. Rightfully, the authors highlight the relentless work done by these civil servants who did their duty despite pressure from the higher ups and ultimately got a corrupt person out of the presidential line of succession, even if they were unable to get their preferred indictments or sentences. This is obviously in stark contrast to our recently resigned AG who never felt like someone who would support the prosecutors under him if they wanted to pursue similar lines of inquiry against anyone in the administration. This just goes to show that while the corruption has lived on, principled people - who would put up a fight against those in power using their positions for nefarious activities - are now a rare commodity, which is very unfortunate for the country.

All in all, this was a well written and interesting read with lots of first hand information from the lawyers who were involved, and despite the brazen corruption of a person in high office, I did enjoy the book a lot. There’s quite a bit of snark in the writing, which I think I can attribute to Rachel’s signature humor, but it never lessened the importance of what happened. And just like Rachel mentioned many times in her previous book Blowout, the strength of our small-d democratic institutions depends on the people who are ready to defend them, even against those in power - and the past four years have shown that they are not invincible. It’s now upto the people how they want to hold their electeds accountable. But before you do that, read this book and listen to the podcast, but sometimes history really teaches us lessons which can help us make better choices in the future. ( )
  ksahitya1987 | Aug 20, 2021 |
In a few short months in summer and fall of 1973, Spiro Agnew rewrote the rules for how a White House occupant can respond, and fight back, when his own Justice Department comes knocking. Damn the investigators. Damn the press. Damn the opposition. Damn the facts. Hang in there, baby! A legitimate investigation, it turns out, can be smeared and muddied up with a simple but aggressive counteroffensive-one that privileges feelings over facts, base loyalty over evidence, and obstruction over cooperation.
Ultimately, Agnew failed to save himself. But he left a scorched earth battle plan for any corrupt office holder that followed. Punch back. Hard. Until either you are broken or the system is.
  taurus27 | Jan 31, 2021 |
I distinctly remember the day that Spiro T. Agnew resigned the Presidency, and had I know the true extent of his crimes, I would have been even more ecstatic to see him leave office. I always thought that he had been nabbed for tax evasion. Little did I know.

If you think that Donald Trump has been a unique politician, think again. Before there was Donald Trump, there was Spiro Agnew, a man who was chosen by Richard Nixon to be his running mate because he would attract those Southerners who would otherwise have voted for George Wallace, and a man who originated the scorched earth battle plan for corrupt officeholders:
• Label any investigation as a witch hunt
• Obstruct the investigation behind the scenes
• Attack the investigators in personal terms
• Attack the credibility of the justice department
• Attack the media
• Always punch back hard until either you or the system is broken
Sound familiar?

Agnew got his start - both politically and criminally - in 1962 as the executive of Baltimore County. In that position, he was responsible for a large number of road and bridge contracts and he made sure that he got a kick-back on each and every one that was awarded. When he became governor of Maryland in 1967 there were even more public works projects and even more kickbacks - kickbacks he continued to receive at his office in the White House when he became Vice President in 1969.

He was caught in the most mundane way. One of the contractors who had been paying Agnew off (and then Agnew's successor as Baltimore County Executive) decided to talk. And he talked, and talked and talked.

The great thing about this book is that so many of the conversations that demonstrate Agnew's guilt are on tape, courtesy of the infamous taping system that Nixon installed in the White house. These tapes were largely ignored as the larger Watergate case took over the nation's attention in 1973. Maddow, however, seems to have listened to them all .She has also interviewed many of the Federal prosecutors who were on the case at the time.

It's a great story, and much like the story of the 2020 election, it's heroes are fairly ordinary civil servants who insisted on doing their jobs and refused to be intimidated by powerful men in office. There are also the usual political weasels (Agnew also had 100 members of Congress who tried to stop his investigation), and some surprising bad guys.

This book reads like a great political thriller and I had a hard time setting it down. Read it and learn something. ( )
1 vote etxgardener | Dec 29, 2020 |
The informal writing style is occasionally very jarring. I also wish Maddow and Yarvitz had dug deeper into the question of what Agnew did with his bribes. But overall it is a good story, well told and placed well into a modern context.

> Agnew's specific brand of "toughness" appealed to Nixon at that moment in particular because he was already anticipating a snag in his election plans—a snag named George Wallace. The unreconstructed segregationist and recent governor of Alabama had thrown his hat in the ring as an independent candidate for president

> The vice presidency of Spiro T. Agnew marked the birth of the bruising, know-nothing confrontational conservatism that has been eating the lunch of seemly, Kiwanis Club Republicanism ever since.

> an Agnew associate had drawn up a list of all the state contracts Green had been awarded in the previous two years, contracts that would continue to pay out. So starting at the end of 1968, and throughout the entire first term of the Nixon administration, Green told prosecutors, he made trips to Agnew's office three or four times a year, each time carrying $2,000. Always in envelopes. Always in cash. In all, Green paid Agnew a total of almost $30,000 in cash over his first term as vice president.

> in addition to the old contracts Agnew had given out as governor, he quickly got to work on steering brand-new federal contracts to the businessmen who were now streaming into his office with those wads of cash. With his eyes constantly on the prize, Agnew rankled the top Nixon aides H. R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman by effectively trying to wrestle control of the federal contract-awarding process and centralize it inside his vice presidential office.

> Nixon had gone through two attorney generals by then, both victims of the Watergate scandal. His first, John Mitchell, was eventually convicted and sent to prison for his role in the cover-up. His replacement, Richard Kleindienst, was forced from the job in Nixon's purge of the scapegoats at the end of April 1973—the same purge that saw the exit of the felons-to-be John Dean, H. R. Haldeman, and John Ehrlichman.

> At that moment, a little after noon, July 3, 1973, Elliot Richardson had been in the job of attorney general for a grand total of thirty-nine days and was already overseeing the most sensitive criminal probe, maybe, in the history of the Justice Department.

> The clear mission, while never explicitly voiced, was to pry the vice president of the United States from office before it was too late. Before he could ascend to the presidency.

> The first article of impeachment drawn up against Richard Nixon a little more than a year later would be "obstruction of justice" for his role in Watergate. But what these conversations reveal is Nixon and Agnew carrying on an obstruction effort—in a totally separate matter.

> he was asked to take part in obstructing an ongoing investigation into the vice president, an obstruction organized and directed by the then president, Richard Nixon, to pressure the prosecutor through his family, using political leverage. And George H. W. Bush did it. He delivered the message to Senator Glenn Beall, who then relayed that pressure to his brother George.

> the young prosecutors who were building their case that spring and summer—the case the president and the vice president were trying to shut down at the same time—have never known about any of this. More than four decades later, this is all brand-new information to them.

> The Nixon-Agnew ticket had won a landslide reelection in 1972, with 61 percent of the popular vote and a stunning 520 of a possible 537 electoral votes. Not even Franklin Delano Roosevelt's massive victory in 1936 could match that. Nixon enjoyed approval ratings just north of 70 percent in the early weeks of his second term and, according to the assessment of The New York Times, " presided over what many believed to be the most powerful Presidency the nation had [ever] seen.

> Agnew's attorneys were preparing to argue that per Article I, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution, a criminal indictment could be handed down only after a vice president had been impeached by the House and convicted by the Senate: "Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law."

> mistresses, sports cars, expensive gifts. "There was jewelry, too," says Tim Baker

> By writing about the conversation with White, Agnew had waived any attorney-client privilege that protected exchanges with his lawyer. And that mistake was a very big reason why Spiro Agnew, finally, would get some measure of comeuppance.

> three years of unsupervised probation and a $10,000 fine.

> 1981, seven and a half years after Agnew's resignation, a judge ruled that Agnew had, in fact, defrauded the people of Maryland. He ordered Agnew to pay back everything he had taken as governor and vice president. Agnew briefly protested the ruling, but ended up writing a check to the state for $268,482. (The bribe money plus interest.)

> Agnew went beyond denying the "damned lies" about his criminal activity; he also rallied his supporters against the public officials in the Justice Department who were working on his case. He raised the specter of politically motivated "leaks" from bad actors on the inside. He attacked witnesses said to be cooperating with the government as "crazy" and self-motivated while also claiming he barely even knew them. He demanded that the investigators be investigated and purged from the government payroll if need be.

> The assault on his own government was paired with ceaseless attacks on the media, stoking his supporters' distrust of legitimate reporting. He portrayed the press itself as one of his chief adversaries, encouraging crowds at his events to shows of open hostility toward journalists. He threatened reporters covering his case with subpoenas and even jail time.

> Ultimately, Agnew failed to save himself. But he left a scorched-earth battle plan for any corrupt officeholder that followed: Attack the investigation as a witch hunt. Obstruct it behind the scenes. Attack individual investigators in personal terms. Attack the credibility of the Justice Department itself. Attack the media informing Americans about the case. Punch back. Hard. Until either you are broken or the system is. ( )
  breic | Dec 28, 2020 |
I did listen to the podcast but the book is WONDERFUL---maybe I'm just more of a book person but this was so well written....a definite page turner! It's almost as if Rachel is talking to you, the reader, the way she does on her TV show. There is so much here that I sort of missed in the podcast when I'm usually trying to do something else at the same time. THIS---I could hardly put down. Absolutely fascinating probably because history is repeating itself....with Trump, only much WORSE. ( )
  nyiper | Dec 24, 2020 |
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"The knockdown, drag-out, untold story of the other scandal that rocked Nixon's White House, and reset the rules for crooked presidents to come-with new reporting that expands on Rachel Maddow's Peabody Award-nominated podcast. Is it possible for a sitting vice president to direct a vast criminal enterprise within the halls of the White House? To have one of the most brazen corruption scandals in American history play out while nobody's paying attention? And for that scandal to be all but forgotten decades later? The year was 1973, and Spiro T. Agnew, the former governor of Maryland, was Richard Nixon's second-in-command. Long on firebrand rhetoric and short on political experience, Agnew had carried out a bribery and extortion ring in office for years, when-at the height of Watergate-three young federal prosecutors discovered his crimes and launched a mission to take him down before it was too late, before Nixon's impending downfall elevated Agnew to the presidency. The self-described "counterpuncher" vice president did everything he could to bury their investigation: dismissing it as a "witch hunt," riling up his partisan base, making the press the enemy, and, with a crumbling circle of loyalists, scheming to obstruct justice in order to survive. In this blockbuster account, Rachel Maddow and Michael Yarvitz detail the investigation that exposed Agnew's crimes, the attempts at a cover-up-which involved future president George H. W. Bush-and the backroom bargain that forced Agnew's resignation but also spared him years in federal prison. Based on the award-winning hit podcast, Bag Man expands and deepens the story of Spiro Agnew's scandal and its lasting influence on our politics, our media, and our understanding of what it takes to confront a criminal in the White House."--

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