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-G. Gordon Liddy, a brash former FBI agent who helped orchestrate the 1972 Watergate break-in, a crime that began the unraveling of Richard Nixon's presidency, died on Tuesday at the age of 90.
Liddy, who parlayed his Watergate infamy into a 20-year career as a conservative talk-radio host, died surrounded by family at the home of his daughter in Mount Vernon, Virginia, his son, Thomas P. Liddy, told Reuters by telephone.
"He had a full life, and it just had run its course," the younger Liddy said of his father, adding that COVID-19 was not a factor. "He did all the good Lord asked of him and then a little more."
Liddy had been diagnosed a few years ago as suffering from Parkinson's disease, his son said. News of Liddy's death was first reported by the Washington Post.
Liddy, born George Gordon Battle Liddy, was one of the notorious White House "plumbers" whose job it was to plug leaks to the media in the Nixon administration. His portfolio at Nixon's Committee to Re-elect the President was "dirty tricks" - and he approached the job with gusto.
He and colleague E. Howard Hunt, a former CIA agent, came up with schemes so outlandish and illegal that their superiors often squelched them.
Among them were a plot to kill investigative columnist Jack Anderson, an ardent Nixon critic; having anti-war protesters at the Republican National Committee in San Diego in 1972 kidnapped and taken across the border into Mexico; and luring Democratic Party officials to a party with prostitutes.
But not all their plans were rejected. In 1971 a few months before the Watergate burglary, Liddy was part of the break-in at the offices of a psychiatrist who was seeing Daniel Ellsberg, a former U.S. military analyst who leaked the top-secret Pentagon Papers about the U.S. war in Vietnam.
Then came the break-in that would undo Nixon. Liddy and Hunt came up with the plan to get into the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate hotel-office complex in Washington as Nixon was seeking re-election in 1972.
After his team was caught, Liddy would be convicted of conspiracy, burglary and wiretapping for the Watergate and Ellsberg break-ins.
He was sentenced to up to 20 years in prison and served nearly five before being released - thanks to a commutation in 1977 from Democratic President Jimmy Carter, who felt his sentence was out of proportion to those meted out to other Watergate criminals.
Unlike his six co-defendants, Liddy refused to cooperate with prosecutors, which had led a judge to add 18 months to the prison term because he would not answer a grand jury's questions.
UNREPENTANT AFTER PRISON
Liddy's time in prison was the longest of any Watergate figure but he remained unapologetic about his crime and told the New York Times he would do it again if asked. He also was proud about not cooperating with the grand jury while denouncing those who had. He drove a Rolls-Royce with a license plate that said "H20-GATE."